Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables in people's diets, and it's clear why that is. This vegetable contains some excellent vitamins and minerals such as fiber, beta-carotene, carotenoid, vitamin A, and potassium. On top of this, they're quite tasty and can be eaten many different ways. So, with all of the benefits that come with carrots, you may be wondering: Can gerbils eat carrots?
In short, yes, gerbils can and should eat carrots. Carrots make for a nutritious and very tasty gerbil snack that can be fed as frequently as many other vegetables. However, there are a few things you must know as a gerbil owner.
What Do Gerbils Eat In The Wild?
To better understand why carrots make for a healthy gerbil snack, it helps to know what they naturally eat in the wild. Gerbils have only been kept as pets for a short time, so that means that they've been roaming free throughout Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia for thousands of years. Over this time, their bodies have changed to very effectively digest and process the food that they most commonly would eat.
This characteristic is why it is so important to match your pet gerbil's diet to their natural one -- it's what their bodies have been shaped for!
Gerbils are defined as omnivores, but have a diet that very closely resembles that of an herbivore. This means that gerbils can and do eat a wide variety of different foods, but these foods are primarily plant matter. Due to this, gerbils are able to get all of their essential nutrients through a healthy mix of grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.
Wild gerbils are scavengers, running around and eating basically any food that they can find. While the exact food that's eaten varies depending on the region a gerbil is located in, the same trends still apply. Gerbils' diets are primarily made up of a mixture of fruits, seeds, nuts, bulbs, grasses, roots, insects, and bird eggs.
Health Benefits & Dangers Of Carrots
After analyzing the natural diet of a gerbil, it's quite clear why carrots make for such a great snack. Although gerbils don't have frequent access to carrots in the wild, they do eat a lot of fruits and vegetables that are similar in nature. This has resulted in gerbils being able to digest and get nutrients from carrots quite easily.
One thing to note about a wild gerbil's diet is that it's quite lacking in sugar. Although they do eat the occasional fruit or vegetable that contains sugar, their daily sugar consumption is incredibly low. So, gerbils shouldn't eat many foods that contain a copious amount of sugar. Unfortunately, carrots are one of those sugar-filled vegetables.
Quite a few problems can arise when a gerbil is fed a diet that consists of too much sugar. The most prominent problem that exists, of course, is excessive weight-gain. Weight-gain in gerbils isn't just something that makes gerbils look plump -- it can also be fatal after a prolonged period of time. So, carrots are vegetables that absolutely must be fed in moderation to prevent such a problem from arising.
Despite the downside of high sugar content, carrots still make for great snacks! There are quite a few nutrients in carrots that gerbils can benefit from greatly. In addition to the nutrients, they're almost irresistible to gerbils, and the texture is something that's not seen in too many other foods.
When fed properly, carrots make for fantastic snacks that gerbils will go absolutely crazy for!
How To Properly Feed Your Gerbil Carrots
The main reason why carrots aren't the best snack for gerbils is because of their high sugar content. Gerbils can only process a small amount of sugar per day, so excessive sugar consumption can result in weight gain and other internal problems. So, carrots make for a great snack, but they must be fed in moderation.
Because of their higher sugar content, carrots can be fed at the same frequency as most fruits -- about 2-3 times per week. As far as serving size goes, a piece of carrot that's a bit smaller than a gerbil's head is generally appropriate. These pieces can either be cut up further for safety or left as they are. Carrot tops can also be fed, but they're not as tasty.
If you do opt to feed your gerbil carrots, you first need to make sure that all of their dietary needs are being met. Although carrots do have a lot of nutrients, this doesn't make them a dietary staple for gerbils. Gerbils need to get their required nutrients from other, healthier sources.
The most important aspect of a gerbil's diet is their high-quality seed mixture. This blend of seeds and grains is a dietary staple because it delivers most of a gerbil's nutrients through a tasty and diverse mixture. Once you've ensured that your gerbil is having all of their dietary needs met, then you can focus on supplementing their diet with snacks such as carrots.
Ways Gerbils Can Eat Carrots
Gerbils can eat carrots in several different ways! Normal carrots are tasty, but it's always a great idea to diversify your gerbil's diet. Although they're small, gerbils have a decently refined pallet and really enjoy when their diets are diversified. Below are some of the most popular ways that carrots are eaten, in addition to whether or not they're safe for gerbils.