Can Gerbils Eat Apples?

The phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has helped to immortalize apples as an essential fruit. Apples are excellent sources of dietary fiber, antioxidants, flavanoids, and a bunch of other vitamins and minerals. Additionally, in humans, they help to reduce the risk of stroke, prevent dementia, and even ward off breast cancer. With all of the health benefits that come from apples, you may be wondering: Can gerbils eat apples?

In short, yes, ​gerbils can and should eat apples as an occasional snack. Apples can make for a very nutritious and irresistible gerbil snack that can be fed quite regularly. However, there are some dangers with apple consumption that must be mentioned.

What Do Gerbils Eat In The Wild?

In order to better understand why apples make for a good snack and what to be cautious of, it helps to know what gerbils naturally eat in the wild. Gerbils have only been kept as pets for a short while, so that means that they’ve been roaming free throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia for thousands of years. During this time, they’ve been eating a very consistent diet, resulting in the fine-tuning of their digestive systems around that food.

This is why matching your gerbil’s captive diet to their natural diet is so important — their bodies are designed for it!

Gerbils are technically omnivores, but they have diets that could almost be considered vegetarian. This trait means that gerbils can and do eat a wide variety of foods to get their essential nutrients. However, a massive majority of their diet consists of different kinds of plant matter. So, a healthy mixture of different grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables make up a wild gerbil’s diet.

Wild gerbils are scavengers. This means that they run around and look for their food, eating basically anything that they can find. While the exact diet of a gerbil varies depending on where in the world they’re located, the same dietary trends still exist. Gerbils have a diet that’s made up for a mixture of seeds, bulbs, roots, insects, fruits, nuts, and even bird eggs.

Health Benefits & Dangers Of Apples

Once you’ve learned about the natural diet of a gerbil, it’s quite clear why apples would make for a good snack. Although gerbils don’t have much access to apples specifically, they still eat fruits and vegetables that have similar properties. This allows gerbils to properly digest and process apples to get good nutritional value from it.

One characteristic of a wild gerbil’s diet that you may have noticed is that it’s quite lacking in sugar. Although there are fruits and vegetables in a gerbil’s diet that contain sugar, they don’t make up a huge portion of their daily food intake. This means that gerbils shouldn’t eat foods that contain large amounts of sugar. Unfortunately, apples are one of those fruits.

There are quite a few problems that come with feeding your gerbil a diet that contains a lot of sugar. One of the most prominent problems that you’ll come across is excessive weight gain. Weight gain can result in gerbils looking cuter, but it can absolutely result in serious health problems or even death. So, apples must be fed to gerbils in moderation to help ensure their health.

Although apples contain a lot of sugar, they still make for amazing gerbil snacks! Gerbils can absolutely benefit from the copious amounts of nutrients that exist in apples, and they also can’t get enough of the taste. Nutritious and tasty are two traits that make apples a great choice for a diet addition.

How To Properly Feed Your Gerbil Apples

The reason why apples aren’t the absolute best snack for gerbils is because they contain decently large amounts of sugar. Gerbils only have the ability to process a little bit of sugar per day, so excessive sugar consumption can have quite a few health drawbacks. So, apples make for a great snack, but must be fed in moderation.

Because of their higher sugar content, apples should only be fed around 2-3 times per week. They could be fed daily, but the serving sizes would have to be smaller than standard. A “standard” apple serving for a gerbil is a piece around the size of their head. These pieces can either be cut up for safety or left whole, as long as the seeds are removed as they can be toxic.

If you do decide that you want to feed your gerbil apples, you need to first make sure that their dietary needs are being met. Apples do contain lots of nutrients, but they aren’t able to act as a dietary staple for your gerbil. Therefore, gerbils should be getting the bulk of their essential nutrients through other means.

The staple food in a gerbil’s diet is going to be a high-quality seed mixture. These mixtures contain a high-quality blend of different grains and seeds that gerbils go crazy for. This diverse mixture tastes great and helps to deliver the nutrients that gerbils need in order to live a happy and healthy life.

Ways Gerbils Can Eat Apples

There are actually several ways that gerbils can eat apples! Apples are great when served normally, but changing it up can also be great! Gerbils may be small, but they’re able to know whether or not they’re bored of their food. Below are some of the most common ways that apples are served, in addition to whether or not they’re safe for gerbils.

  • Fresh apples – This is the way that apples are most commonly eaten, and you can’t go wrong with it! Fresh apples make for a juicy, tasty snack that can either be purchased from an organic store or grown in your own backyard. Fresh apples should be fed to gerbils around 2-3 times per week, and the seeds should always be removed. Also, fresh apples should be cleaned out of a gerbil’s cage regularly as they go bad quickly.
  • Dehydrates apples – Dehydrated apples are apples that have had around 90-95% of their water removed. This makes for a very different yet tasty snack that gerbils go crazy for. These can easily be made with a simple food dehydrator, so many gerbil owners feed these regularly. However, since these apples have less water, that means that they’re more nutrient and sugar-dense. So, smaller servings of these apples should be fed to gerbils.
  • Dried apples – These are basically dehydrated apples but with even more water removed from them! Dried apples are also commonly referred to as apple crisps, as they’re put into an oven until they’re crispy. Once again, these are nutrient-dense, so smaller serving sizes are essential. Also, it’s best if you make these yourself, as store-bought apple crisps can contain more sugar or additives.
  • Apple juice/sauce – Neither of these options are safe for gerbils. Despite the fact that they’re very tasty, and gerbils would undoubtedly go crazy for them, they’re not healthy at all. These products contain massive amounts of sugar, which gerbils cannot have large amounts of. It’s best to stick to the standard, natural apple.