Broccoli is a vegetable that's hated and loved by an equal amount of people around the world. Despite its controversy, there's no denying its health benefits. Broccoli contains great amounts of vitamins K and C, folate, potassium, and fiber. It can also be prepared in several different ways, making it quite a diverse food. With all of its health benefits, you may be wondering: Can gerbils eat broccoli?
Yes, gerbils can eat broccoli as an occasional treat. Gerbils tend to love the taste and texture of broccoli, having no trouble finishing an entire floret when it's made available. However, broccoli must be fed to gerbils in moderation to keep them as healthy as possible.
What Do Gerbils Eat In The Wild?
To better understand why broccoli makes for a tasty gerbil snack, it helps to know what gerbils eat in the wild. For thousands of years, gerbils have roamed throughout Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. During this large period of time, gerbils have eaten roughly the same foods, fine-tuning their digestive systems for those particular foods that they commonly run into.
This is why it's so important to match your gerbil's diet to the diet of a wild gerbil -- their bodies are designed for specific foods!
While gerbils are classified as omnivores, they have a diet that closely resembles that of an herbivore. Thus, gerbils are able to eat a wide variety of different foods, but they primarily eat different forms of plant matter. Due to this, gerbils are able to get most of their essential nutrients from eating a mixture of vegetables, fruits, and grains.
In the wild, gerbils scavenge around for their food and eat whatever food they happen to come across. Because of this, the exact diet of a wild gerbil depends on their geographical location and the time of year. However, all gerbils eat roughly the same foods, and those are grasses, roots, insects, fruits, seeds, bulbs, nuts, and bird eggs.
Health Benefits & Dangers Of Broccoli
Looking at the natural diet of a gerbil, it makes sense why though would be such big fans of broccoli. While wild gerbils don't eat broccoli specifically, they do eat a variety of foods that are quite similar in nature, helping their compatibility.
One factor that you'll notice about a gerbil's diet is that it's very dry. This is because many of the foods that wild gerbils eat simply don't contain much water. This results in a wild gerbil consuming only about 4ml of water per day! Broccoli is about 91% water by weight, meaning that it has quite a high water content.
In gerbils, excessive water consumption results in quite a few issues. Large amounts of water in a gerbil's body will dilute their sodium and electrolytes, resulting in hyponatremia. Additionally, too much water can result in diarrhea, and this can lead to dehydration and severe intestinal distress. On top of that, foods with high water content simply won't deliver too many nutrients in a gerbil-sized serving.
Fortunately, the downsides listed above can easily be avoided when a gerbil is appropriately fed broccoli. When treated as a snack, broccoli helps to keep a gerbil's diet interesting while providing them with some nutrients that they may not get from other sources.
How To Properly Feed Gerbils Broccoli
Broccoli isn't a very healthy food for gerbils in large amounts due to its high water content. Due to the fact that gerbils don't require much water in their daily lives, broccoli can easily provide them with excessive amounts. Because of this, broccoli is a great occasional snack, but it must be fed in moderation.
In terms of feeding frequency, gerbils can generally safely eat a small floret of broccoli about 2-3 times per week. Depending on the other foods that your gerbil is eating, you may be able to feed them slightly more than this, or you may have to feed them less. It's up to you to calculate your gerbil's daily nutrition intake and adjust their feeding accordingly.
If you do want to fit broccoli into your gerbil's diet, you need to first ensure that their dietary needs are being met. While broccoli is a healthy food, it's nowhere near nutritious enough to act as a dietary staple for gerbils. Therefore, it must only be treated as a supplement.
The most important aspect of a gerbil's diet by far is a high-quality seed mixture. This mixture closely mimics the diet of a wild gerbil, it's very diverse in flavors and textures, and it's very nutritionally-dense. Once you've made sure that you're meeting your gerbil's nutritional requirements, then you can focus on supplementing their diets with fruits and veggies.
Ways Gerbils Can Eat Broccoli
While broccoli is a great snack for gerbils in its raw form, there are other ways that it can be eaten! Gerbils may be small creatures, but they are still capable of becoming bored of a food if it's all that they're eating. Therefore, it can be beneficial to feed your gerbil several different forms of the same food to keep things interesting.
Other Healthy Snacks For Your Gerbil
While broccoli does make for a good gerbil snack, it's certainly not the only fruit or vegetable that you should be feeding your gerbil. There are quite a few other fruits and vegetables that are very healthy in moderation and that gerbils find irresistible.