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Can Gerbils Eat Sunflower Seeds? The Nutty Truth!

can gerbils eat sunflower seeds

Are you someone who enjoys sunflower seeds? Some people don’t find them the tastiest when raw, but add a pinch of salt, and voila….sunflower delight!

The mild, nutty flavor can be particularly enjoyable, and it’s quite versatile too. Sunflower seeds can be transformed into roasted seeds, sunflower spread, sunflower oil, and even sunflower seed flour!

Can gerbils eat sunflower seeds though? Gerbils do eat quite a few dry seeds in the wild. Seeds help contribute to a healthy and balanced diet for these small animals, so some are safe for them

Let’s find out if sunflower seeds are ideal for gerbils or if your pet should avoid them.

Can Gerbils Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Gerbils can eat sunflower seeds and incorporate them in their diet. However, it is best if eaten in moderation because of the fat content. Sunflower seeds are great as treats because gerbils enjoy them. Also, it’s best to feed your gerbil raw sunflower seeds for the best nutritional value. 

Sunflower seeds are often found in healthy gerbil food mixes, so you can be sure that it’s completely safe. Most seeds are safe for gerbils, but they tend to be high in fat, so be careful!

Do Gerbils Enjoy Eating Sunflower Seeds?

If you’ve never fed your gerbil sunflower seeds before, plenty of gerbil owners will tell you that they absolutely LOVE this snack! While every gerbil has a particular taste and may turn up their nose to certain foods, for the most part, sunflower seeds seem to be a big hit. 

Sunflower seeds are not only crunchy, but they are also fatty and have a mild tasty flavor. Which gerbil is gonna say no to that? Also, sunflower seeds do contain a range of nutrients that are great for your pet!

Nutritional Benefits of Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are great for us humans and our gerbils too. According to the USDA, 100 grams of sunflower seeds contain the following nutrients:

  • Calories 619
  • Protein 17.2g
  • Carbohydrate 20.6g
  • Fiber 11.5g
  • Calcium 57 mg
  • Iron 6.81 mg
  • Magnesium 129 mg
  • Phosphorus, P 1160 mg
  • Potassium 491 mg
  • Sodium 3 mg
  • Zinc 5.3 mg
  • Copper 1.83 mg

So as you can see, sunflower seeds have quite a healthy nutritional profile and just enough protein for your gerbil. Even though it’s somewhat low in calcium, it does make up for it in other aspects. 

Also, since your gerbil is eating sunflower seeds alongside other healthy nuts, seeds, fruits, and veggies, his nutritional intake should be fine.

Apart from the apparent nutrients, other benefits of snacking on sunflower:

  • Averts inflammation
  • Supports Immune Function
  • Reduces risk of heart disease
  • Boosts energy levels
  • Regulates blood sugar levels
sunflower seeds uses

Potential Downfalls of Sunflower Seeds

With all that said, sunflower seeds can be harmful to your gerbil’s health if you overfeed them. Here are a few things to be aware of:

Sodium Intake

If you allow your gerbil to crack open sunflower seeds themselves, think again. The outer shell of this delicious snack is covered in about 2500 mg of sodium. That’s WAY too much for your little guy to handle.

Instead of allowing your pet to open the shell themselves, crack them open and allow them to feed a few 


So we are all aware that sunflower seeds contain a high amount of fat. With that said, your pet does need fat, just not a whole lot. If your gerbil really enjoys sunflower seeds, feed him only a small amount once in a while to avoid obesity which can easily happen. 


This is a heavy metal that can affect the kidneys if taken in excess. Because sunflowers contain this metal, it’s best to feed your pet in moderation. Sunflower seeds absorb the cadmium from the soil which is transferred to the seeds, so there’s no way to avoid it.

The best way to prevent any harmful effects is to limit your pet’s sunflower consumption. 

Can Gerbils Eat Roasted Sunflower Seeds?

Gerbils can eat roasted sunflower seeds, as they are completely safe. In fact, when roasted, they bring out a vibrant taste that your pet will enjoy. However, roasting does cause the seeds to lose some nutritional value, so feed raw nuts more often than the roasted option.

Can Gerbils Eat Salted Sunflower Seeds?

Gerbils should not eat salted sunflower seeds, because the sodium content could harm them. Gerbils should not eat foods with additives such as salt, or sweeteners. The best option for gerbils is to eat foods in their pure or raw form because it’s best for them.

Humans do enjoy salted sunflower seeds because let’s face it, they do taste better. However, to keep your gerbil in the best shape, keep them away from the salted seeds. This gerbil forum, recommends avoiding salted foods and nuts at all costs. 

Can Gerbils Eat Sunflower Seed Butter?

While sunflower seed butter is healthy on its own, the fat content is extremely high because it takes a large number of seeds to make a small amount of butter. If your gerbil tastes a small amount once in a while it won’t affect him, but large portions eaten often can lead to obesity.

Also, store bought sunflower seed butter may contain unhealthy additives which are not good for your gerbil. So avoid these as well and feed raw sunflower seeds instead. 

How Often Should Gerbils Eat Sunflower Seeds?

According to Stortvet, gerbils should eat sunflower seeds in small amounts because they are low in calcium and high in fat. The source also mentions that ‘gerbils particularly like sunflower seeds; you will notice that your gerbil will take out and eat all the sunflower seeds first’. They maintain that owners should keep track of much their gerbils eat to avoid overconsumption. 

A good rule when choosing how much and how often to feed your pet is sticking to feeding them no more than 3 times per week, but it’s up to the owner to use their discretion.

Can Gerbils Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Yes, for the most part, gerbils can eat sunflower seeds – but in moderation. They love this flavourful seed and will gobble them all up if they have the chance, so you do need to monitor just how much they consume.

Sunflower seeds are great for gerbils for the fact they contain a good nutritional profile and protein content. However, the low calcium and high fat mean it should be eaten in small quantities. 

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