Because they are small, cute and, easy to care for, gerbils are very popular pets. However, they still need a good habitat where they can thrive, and if you’re looking for a cage for your gerbils, you can find more info here.
Being burrowing animals, gerbils are related to mice, but they don’t have such a diverse diet. Despite popular belief, however, mice don’t like cheese that much, and the dairy product can be harmful to them. The same can be said about gerbils.
To better understand if gerbils can eat cheese or not, it’s important to consider what they eat in the wild. Only recently has the gerbil become an animal that is kept as a pet. Before that gerbils could only be found in certain parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. But since they have been domesticated, their digestive system has adapted a bit and they can now eat more things that they couldn’t before.
However, it’s still important to feed a gerbil with the food it would consume out in the wild because its body is best optimized for that. Gerbils are omnivores, but they mainly consume plants. They eat a huge variety of foods, but due to where they live and the availability of the food around them, they tend to eat plant matter.
They are thus able to get all the nutrients they need from fruits, vegetables, and grains, all balanced well. Because they are omnivores gerbils can adapt well to new situations and in the wild, they use this quality to constantly scavenge around for foods and eat almost anything.
Depending on the region they live in, certain gerbils prefer certain things. However, most of them enjoy eating roots, grasses, seeds, nuts, bulbs and they supplement this vegetarian lifestyle with some insects and bird eggs.
So is cheese safe?
Judging by what they eat in the wild, it’s tempting to say that cheese or dairy products have no place in a gerbil’s diet. And that is true, as the elements that make the cheese aren’t safe for them. Gerbils are specialized in eating and digesting plant matter and their stomachs can process insects or raw eggs if those are eaten in small quantities.
Because they aren’t exposed to dairy products, their bodies aren’t used to digesting them. Most experts say that gerbils are actually intolerant to lactose and their bodies can’t digest the lactose that can be found in dairy products including cheese.
This is a common thing that can be said about small animals like gerbils. Most of them should avoid cheese or any similar products. So if your gerbil loves cheese, consider only giving your pet really small amounts of it, otherwise, you risk causing intestinal problems.
Although it contains many vitamins, cheese cannot be well processed by the gerbils’ digestive system, and that is why it has close to no value for them in terms of nutrition. That is an additional reason not to feed gerbils cheese. This dairy product is also high in fat and you should always avoid feeding your pet food that contains a lot of fat, especially if your gerbil is one that sits all day long.
Despite all these negative things, some gerbils will still love eating cheese from time to time. So if you really want to feed them cheese, make sure you do it seldom and you watch their diet.
Can you avoid cheese?
Your gerbil doesn’t know that cheese is dangerous for it, so you have to make sure you keep its appetite in check. Fortunately, there are some alternatives that you can use to replace cheese. Dairy products aren’t the worst things a gerbil can eat, but they’re certainly not great for it. Cheese isn’t good as a snack either, especially when there are other things to feed your pet.
You can give your gerbil vegetables that are safe and healthy. Amongst these, carrots, cucumber, cauliflower, small amounts of lettuce, or broccoli are great choices. You can give small pieces of these vegetables once a day.
If you want to give your gerbil some sweet treats, you can cut some apple for it, as well as bananas or strawberries. Due to their high sugar content fruits should only be consumed by your gerbil 2 or 3 times per week.
Giving your gerbil cheese
Although cheese might not be great for most gerbils, some people say that their pet loves it and it causes no harm. So if you want to feed your gerbil cheese, here’s how to do it. However, keep in mind that no matter how much your pet loves cheese, never feed it too much of it.
When giving cheese to your gerbil, always cut it in small pieces and serve only small amounts. Diversifying your pet’s diet is a nice thing to do and offering a small piece or two every week won’t hurt. The cheese you choose to offer to your gerbil should be a standard one, something like cottage cheese, cheddar, or Swiss.
Cut the cheese in very small cubes that weigh half a teaspoon. If you give your gerbil cheddar, cut it in a piece small enough that the pet can hold it between its paws. When the pet doesn’t eat the cheese immediately be sure to check on it and don’t let the food sit in the cage for too long. You don’t want your gerbil to eat spoiled food.
If you feed your gerbil cheese with additives it’s probably that the animal won’t be able to digest them and it would be a bad experience for everyone. Cheese for gerbils is like the cheat food you eat when you’re trying to be on a diet. So when giving cheese to your pet make sure that everything else the pet eats is safe and healthy.
When you want to make things more interesting for your beloved animal and also keep its diet in check, you can put some cheese in the seed blends it eats. These blends contain grains, pellets, dehydrated vegetables, and adding a bit of cheese gives more taste to the mix.
Gerbils already get all the nutrients needed from these blends. Seed mixtures mimic what the gerbils eat in the wild, so they keep the animals healthy. Adding some cheese from time to time also makes the animal happy and more interested in the food.
It’s hard to keep your gerbil on a healthy diet, but managing to give it the food it needs while keeping it happy is essential for long life. If you meet the nutritional needs of your gerbil, you can let your pet indulge in something unhealthy like cheese.
What cheese is best for gerbils?
Because some gerbils can’t be kept away from cheese, we thought it’s also important to see what types of cheese cause the least physical distress to your pet. As a rule of thumb, it’s safer to opt for milder varieties of cheese.
Mild cheddar, however, is high in fat and this is why it should only be served to your gerbils occasionally. There are some good things about mild cheddar. It serves as a good source of vitamin A, proteins and calcium. Being a source of many calories, this cheese is not great for those gerbils that sit more than they should.
A better alternative would be cottage cheese. It’s a dairy product that is lower in fat and that will make it easier for the gerbils to digest it. It also has good amounts of vitamin A, B 12, proteins and calcium in it. Additionally, this type of cheese is full of potassium and magnesium.
Make it a priority that every time you feed cheese to your gerbil you also encourage it to do some exercise. Encourage your gerbil to run on the wheel a bit or simply play with it.