Vegetables and fruit
Gerbils enjoy most sorts of vegetables, but take care with them. After all, the Mongolian gerbil comes from a habitat with very little water (semi-desert) and is not used to large quantities of food with high water content. They can cause diarrhoea. Now and again your pet can be treated to a small piece of chicory, carrot, cauliflower, paprika or apple. It will enjoy most fruits, although citrus fruits are often too acid. Gerbils also enjoy dandelion, freshly cut grass and clover.
Lettuce and cabbage are best left out of their diets. These vegetables can easily cause intestinal problems. Make sure that all fresh food has been washed well (insecticides) and never gather grass, clover or dandelion from patches next to busy road, because of pollution. Take care to remove from the cage any pieces of fruit or vegetables that have not been eaten. There is a change they will start to rot, which could make your gerbil ill.
Mongolian gerbils love mean-worms, sunflower seeds and nuts. They are rich in fat and therefore not that healthy. Therefore, give them only sparsely and never feed salted nuts. Gerbils also enjoy a small piece of old bread or a raisin.
Almost all rodents eat their own droppings from time to time. This is not only normal, but also necessary. During the digestion process, vitamin B12 is produced in the intestines. By eating their droppings the animals take in this important vitamin.
Young gerbils eat their parents’ dropping, because they contain the bacteria they need to be able to create vitamin B12 in their own intestines during digestion.
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals are elements every body needs to stay healthy. As long as a gerbil enjoys a good, varied diet it does not need additional vitamins and minerals. These are in their food.
Some breeders hang a so-called “mineral lick” in the cage. The animal takes in minerals by licking the stone and it seems that pregnant females, particularly, use them. Sometimes small blocks of limestone are placed in the cage. By gnawing on these the animals get extra calcium and at the same time keep their teeth sharp.
Many rodents drink only small amounts of water. They come from regions where water is scarce and have learned to be careful with it. Some varieties can go with almost no water a all. Gerbils do, however, take in water in form of dew. It is therefore important for your gerbil to always have fresh water available. Any time it is thirsty it can drink. It is best to give water in a drinking bottle, which you hang on the outside of the cage, with the spout inside. Make sure that all animals (old and young) can reach it.
A dish of water is quickly overturned of filled with sawdust of other dirt.