The banana is a wonderfully-healthy fruit that delivers a lot of energy through its natural sugars and fiber. Additionally, it’s an excellent source of carbohydrates, iron, phosphorous, and other essential vitamins and minerals. With all of the excellent health benefits that come with bananas, you may be wondering: Can gerbils eat bananas?
Yes, gerbils can and should eat bananas as an occasional snack. Bananas have a lot of essential nutrients that gerbils need to stay happy and healthy, and they also taste fantastic. These are the characteristics of a fantastic gerbil treat. However, there are some things about them that every gerbil owner should know.
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What Do Gerbils Eat In The Wild?
When deciding whether or not bananas make for a good snack for gerbils, it helps to know what gerbils would normally eat in the wild. Gerbils have only been kept as pets for a short while, so this means that they’ve been roaming free throughout Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia for centuries. During this time, the digestive system of gerbils has evolved to efficiently process the food that they most commonly eat.
Because of this, it’s very important to match your gerbil’s diet to the diet that they would eat in the wild. It’s much healthier for them and easier to digest and process.
Gerbils are classified as omnivores, while sticking to a diet that very closely resembles that of an herbivore. So, gerbils eat a wide variety of different foods in order to get the nutrients that they need to live, with most of the food being plant matter. A health mix of grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables is able to provide gerbils with their necessary vitamins and minerals.
In the wild, gerbils scavenge for their food, eating basically anything that they can find. Of course, the exact diet of a gerbil differs depending on where in the world they’re located, but the same general food groups are present world-wide. A wild gerbil has a diet that’s made of a mix of seeds, roots, fruits, nuts, insects, bulbs, and bird eggs.
Health Benefits & Dangers Of Bananas
After learning about what wild gerbils normally eat, it’s pretty clear why bananas make for a good snack. Despite the fact that gerbils don’t have much access to bananas specifically, they still eat many fruits and vegetables that are similar. This helps them to digest and process the food successfully without actually being used to eating it.
If you look at a wild gerbil’s diet, you may notice something about it: it’s fairly low in sugar. Sure, gerbils do eat some fruits and vegetables that have a higher sugar content, but their daily sugar intake is still quite low. This means that gerbils shouldn’t eat many sugar-rich foods. Unfortunately, bananas are fruits that are quite high in sugar.
When a gerbil has a diet that’s high in sugar, there are quite a few downsides that can occur. The most prominent problem is weight gain — something that many gerbil owners aren’t too knowledgeable about. Weight gain can make gerbils look cuter, but it will cause serious health problems if not death. Because of this, gerbils need to be fed bananas in moderation to maintain their good health.
Despite bananas having lots of sugar, they still make for a great snack. The nutrients in bananas are excellent for gerbils, and the taste is something that they can’t easily resist. They can also be served in different ways to keep things interesting for your gerbil. So, when bananas are fed properly, they can definitely spice up a gerbil’s diet.
How To Properly Feed Your Gerbil Bananas
The main reason why bananas don’t make the perfect snack is because they’re high in fructose, or sugar. Gerbils only have the ability to process a small amount of sugar per day, so there are quite a few issues that can come from excessive sugar consumption. Bananas make for a great snack when they’re fed in moderation.
Because of their high sugar content, bananas should only be fed to gerbils about 2-3 times per week. If they were to be fed daily, the serving sizes would need to be a bit smaller. A standard serving size is about the size of your gerbil’s head. These pieces can either be cut up or left whole — either one makes for a safe and easy snack.
Gerbil owners that decide to feed their gerbils bananas must first ensure that their gerbil’s dietary needs are being met. Despite the fact that bananas contain a lot of essential nutrients, they’re still unable to act as a dietary staple for your gerbil. Because of this, gerbils need to get their nutritional needs met through other means.
A high-quality seed mixture should be the staple food of a gerbil’s diet. These mixtures are made with gerbils in mind and contain a quality, tasty blend of nuts and seeds that gerbils love. This food will give gerbils most of the nutrients that they need so that the gaps can be filled in with other diverse foods.
Ways Gerbils Can Eat Bananas
Bananas aren’t a very boring food! There are several ways that bananas are eaten, and several ways that you can serve your gerbil bananas. Gerbils are small creatures, but they’re still able to determine whether or not they’re getting tired of a certain food. So, changing up the way that you feed your gerbil bananas could keep things fun and interesting.
- Fresh bananas – This is, of course, the most popular way that bananas are eaten. Fresh bananas make for a healthy snack that can either be purchased from an organic store for a very low price. Fresh bananas should be fed to gerbils around 2-3 times per week, and so can small pieces of the skin. Fresh bananas need to be cleaned out a gerbil’s cage at the end of the day as they can start to go bad quickly.
- Dehydrated bananas – Dehydrated bananas are simply bananas that have had around 90-95% of their water content removed. This is a very simple task if you have a food dehydrator, and it makes for some awesome gerbil snacks. One thing to note about dehydrated bananas is that since they have most of their water removed, the density of their nutrients and sugar is higher, resulting in a gerbil getting more sugar per serving. So, you’ll want to shrink the serving size of this banana.
- Banana chips – Chips are banana slices that are baked in an oven, removing virtually all of their water. This results in a tasty, crispy chip that gerbils love. If you’re making the chips yourself, make sure that there are no additives. Store bought banana chips aren’t recommended as they can contain added salt or sugar that isn’t healthy for gerbils. Serving sizes of these should also be reduced due to the sugar density.
- Banana bread – Banana bread can be fed to gerbils, but it isn’t recommended. If you make your own banana bread with very simple ingredients and no added sugar, it’s generally okay to give your gerbil a tiny piece. However, store-bought banana bread should never be fed to gerbils due to the unhealthy additives.