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Can Gerbils Eat Peanut Butter? (Delicious Treat or Dangerous Dainty?)

can gerbils eat peanut butter

It can be a struggle to give your little nugget a tasty treat, especially when you want to keep them happy and energized! Not everything is safe for your gerbil, and some foods can cause harm. But what about peanut butter?

 Can gerbils eat peanut butter? If so,  how much peanut butter can they safely eat, and should it be a staple food for your pet? Let’s find out more about peanut butter and if it’s good for your pet. 

Can Gerbils Eat Peanut Butter?

Gerbils can eat peanut butter and it is perfectly safe for your pet! It contains plenty of nutrients that will keep your gerbil healthy and happy. There is speculation online and in other circles that peanut butter isn’t safe for gerbils. However, we’re here to put that assumption to rest. No research has shown that peanut butter is bad for gerbils. In fact, it’s actually a healthy treat that they can both benefit from and enjoy. 

Do Gerbils Eat Peanuts in the Wild?

Peanut is made by grinding the peanuts until they have a smooth texture. Gerbils do like a variety of textures and peanut butter’s silky smoothness is no different. However, peanut butter is not something they would encounter in the wild – unless they have a blender hidden somewhere out there!? Gerbils are omnivores and eat plants and sometimes insects when they can find them. 

In the wild, gerbils also eat seeds and the green parts of crops that they have access to regularly. Their diet is also varied depending on the seasonality, as they live in various areas across the globe.  If gerbils encounter peanuts in the wild, this is something they would definitely munch on. Peanuts are something that your pet gerbil will especially enjoy due to the crunchy texture and high-fat content. 

Is Peanut Butter Safe for Gerbils?

This will all depend on the type of peanut butter purchased. Some peanut butter brands are all-natural, while others contain ingredients that are not safe for gerbils in excessive amounts. These include salt, sugar, oil, and a substance known as Xylitol.

Is Xylitol Safe for Gerbils?

Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that is included in many sugar-free products on the market. It is found naturally in certain fruits and vegetables. Because of its sweet taste, it is a good substitute for some products. One of the other benefits of using this is that it doesn’t cause tooth decay, unlike what sugar can do. It actually reduces levels of the bacteria that cause tooth decay which is a big plus. Xylitol is completely safe for humans but is toxic to dogs, which might give it a bad wrap among some pet owners. 

At this time, there is no conclusive evidence that Xylitol is unsafe for gerbils in the same way that it is with dogs. However, we can’t be sure if it will not cause harm if eaten in excess. For this substance, it is best to avoid it, unless your vet says otherwise. 

Is Sugar Safe for Gerbils?

Sugar is as safe for your gerbil as it is for you. However, due to their small size, they should not ingest much. Sugar that naturally appears in foods such as dried fruit is ok for your gerbil in moderation, but too much could be harmful. If your gerbil eats too much sugar, it can be stored as fat which leads to the inevitable weight gain. 

This can lead to problems like mobility issues, stomach cramps, and high blood pressure which lowers your gerbil’s life expectancy. Because most commercial peanut butters contain sugar, these are not healthy choices for your pet. 

Is Salt Safe for Gerbils?

Salt is helpful for proper thyroid function, staying hydrated, and preventing low blood pressure, which is great for your gerbil. But as you may already know, too much of anything is not good. Excess salt causes the obvious high blood pressure in humans and will do the same to your gerbil. This can happen if you go overboard with his salt intake. It can also lead to sodium poisoning as gerbils will most likely get enough salt from their regular diet. Therefore, your gerbil does not need additional salt from peanut butter. 

Is Hydrogenated Oil safe for gerbils?

We, humans, consume a lot of oil from fast foods, chips, and even candy. While a moderate amount of healthy oils is good, too much can affect your gerbil’s system. Hydrogenated oil on the other hand is not the best product to consume. It is used to bind ingredients together and create a silky texture in peanut butter. 

Even though the FDA confirmed the safety of this oil for human consumption, Medical News Today states that this does not make it healthy or good for humans to eat. Hydrogenated oil is not easy for your gerbil’s body to digest as it takes too much energy for his body to convert the fats it contains. Because of this, the fat will be stored in your gerbil’s body which can cause weight gain. 

Therefore, it is best to avoid any peanut butter brands that contain xylitol, sugar, salt, and hydrogenated oil. Try to find organic and all-natural peanut butter that is not only healthy, but delicious. 

Do Gerbils Like Peanut Butter?

gerbil being held

It will come as no surprise that gerbils like peanut butter – the ones that have tried it anyway!

The other gerbils are missing out. Just kidding! Gerbils enjoy the tasty treat because of the sweet taste and delicious aroma. I mean, who doesn’t like sweets?

It’s also easy for them to eat even though it’s nothing like the crunchy texture of its other favorite food.

This member from the Gerbil Forum stated, “Well yes it is ok for gerbils. I give it to mine, like get one of their little biscuits from their food bag, and smear it in peanut-butter and they LOVE it haha!”

While it will depend on preference, gerbils do enjoy peanut butter and will probably keep coming back for more!

Nutritional Benefits of Peanut Butter for Gerbils

According to WebMD, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter contain the following:

Protein 9 grams
Fat18 grams
Carbohydrates6 grams
Fiber3 grams
Sugar1 gram

As you can see, fats take up a large amount of the servings in peanut butter, so it is not appropriate to feed your gerbil too much. On the other hand, it does have a healthy nutritional profile which makes it a good occasional treat for your pet. A few important vitamins and minerals found in peanut butter include:

  • Vitamin E is great for reproduction, eye health, and maintaining the health of the brain, skin, and blood. What’s also great about vitamin E is that it has antioxidants that protect cells against free radicals. 
  • Niacin or B3 is a vitamin that helps to convert food into energy and aids in repairing DNA. It also boosts levels of good HDL cholesterol and lowers triglycerides. 
  • Manganese is a trace mineral and is only needed in small amounts. However, it does help with vital functions such as supporting bone health, reducing blood sugar levels, and even healing wounds. Just like vitamin E, it also has antioxidant properties. 
  • Vitamin B6 helps the immune system to function better by guarding against infection. It also aids in proper circulation by balancing the hormone homocysteine in the body. 
  • Magnesium is a mineral that keeps blood pressure normal, maintains bone health, and even regulates the heartbeat. 
  • Copper helps to maintain bone health, and blood vessels and boosts immune function. 

As you can see, peanut butter contains nutrients that will benefit your pet’s health if eaten in small amounts. 

How Much Peanut Butter Should my Gerbil Eat and How Often?

From what we saw earlier in the nutritional profile of peanut butter, it is clear that fats are one of the higher elements comprised in this food. Too much fat is not to be consumed because it can raise the ‘bad cholesterol’ in the blood which can increase the risk of heart disease. 

Even though natural peanut butter is healthy enough on its own, you should not feed too much to your gerbil. Gerbils have tiny bodies and too much fat will lead to weight gain. When looking for peanut butter for your gerbil, try to purchase a natural product that has no added salt, sugar, or oils.  Your gerbil should eat only about 1 teaspoon of peanut butter a week at most. Preferably, peanut butter should be given as an occasional treat, and not as a staple food. 

Give it to your gerbil in very small amounts when introducing the product and watch how they react to it. Allow him to lick it from a spoon, so he can choose the safest amount. 

Downfalls of Eating Peanut Butter for Gerbils

The main reason why peanut butter should not be fed to your gerbil too often, is because of the high-fat content. There is also the risk of getting too much protein and other nutrients which can be detrimental. Too much protein can lead to issues such as:

  • Intestinal discomfort and indigestion
  • Dehydration
  • Unexplained exhaustion
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea

Also, your pet can only digest and absorb a certain amount of protein at a time. The remaining protein will be stored as fat. Keep in mind that peanut butter already has a high amount of fat, which makes this a double whammy!

Healthier and Less Fatty Options for Gerbils!

Your gerbil will be happy with or without peanut butter once you feed him other healthy options that he already loves. Here’s a list of some of the best food items for your gerbil, that won’t pack on the pounds!

Best Seeds for Gerbils

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds (in moderation)
  • Clover seeds
  • Camelina seeds
  •  Quinoa
  • Alfalfa seeds
  • Red clover seeds
  •  Sesame
  •  Evening Primrose seeds
  •  Poppy seeds
  •  Brown linseeds
  •  Nettle seeds 

Healthy Fruits for Gerbils

  • Banana
  • Strawberry
  • Cherry
  • Kiwi
  • Apple
  • Blueberry
  • Plum

Healthy Veggies for Gerbils

  • Bell pepper
  • Zucchini
  • Green bean
  • Cucumber
  • Pea
  • Carrot (in moderation)

Should I Make Natural Peanut Butter for my Gerbil?

Personally, I think this may be the best option! You can rest assured knowing that the treat is healthy, as you made it yourself! You can create a recipe using natural sweeteners instead of store-bought sugar like raisins, blueberries, apples, and any other fruits that gerbils eat. 

Here’s a healthy peanut butter concoction for your pet:

Peanut butter recipe

Can Gerbils Eat Peanut Butter?

Peanut butter is safe for gerbils in moderate amounts. Gerbils can eat about 1 teaspoon of peanut butter in a week. Still, he should not eat it every week due to its fat content. Your gerbil will enjoy peanut butter as an addition to a balanced diet containing pellet food as well as fresh fruits and veggies in smaller amounts. Healthy food options include carrots, strawberries, and pumpkin seeds, just to name a few. 

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