Cheese has always been associated with rodents, especially rats – Tom & Jerry generation – so it’s natural that one would wonder if it’s safe to feed it to your pet gerbils.
However, cheese is a dairy product derived from milk, and therefore not part of the gerbil’s natural diet, but it does not mean a gerbil can’t eat cheese.
In fact, gerbils can eat cheese except for blue cheese which contains mold that is toxic to gerbils and most pets, but cheese contains very little lactose levels less than 6%, gerbils are lactose intolerant to levels higher than 20% which is much more than what cheese contains, but still, cheese should be fed to gerbils in small quantities as a supplement to their natural diet and is best used as a treat.
Gerbils in their natural habitat feed mostly on seeds, grasses, roots, nuts and a variety of grasses, and some small insects every now and then, that’s why trying new fruits, vegetables, and other foods that contain proteins is a good idea to balance their diet as pets in captivity.
Choosing healthy foods to balance the gerbil’s diet is important, but not as important as their primary diet which needs to be healthy and of good quality and the one we recommend is the Oxbow Garden Select Fortified Gerbils Food (check current price at Amazon) it’s made of pellets so gerbils – known for being picky with the seeds – can’t get picky with their food.
Do gerbils eat cheese in the wild?
Gerbils are desert species, that’s why they’re called desert rats, and in the desert which is an arid environment, they only feed on seeds roots, and grasses.
In the wild gerbils have zero chance of finding cheese which is made of milk so it’s not part of their natural diet.
Gerbils can get their protein needs by feeding on some small insects similar to mealworms and small species that live in the desert.
What’s important to note is that gerbils don’t feed on insects on a daily basis, but rather occasionally when they have the chance to get one, that’s a clear indication that they need very little protein in their diet.
That’s why cheese should only be fed as an occasional treat and not as a primary food that gerbils can eat every day.
Can baby gerbils eat cheese?
Gerbils have a relatively short lifespan which is why baby gerbils are weaned at the early age of five weeks.
When bought from a breeder or a store gerbil pups are often old enough to eat regular adult food, it’s the ones born in captivity that need more attention and they are in general very sensitive to sudden changes in food.
Gerbils from birth to three weeks old
Baby gerbils from birth to two weeks old feed exclusively on their mom’s milk and can’t handle any other form of food.
At this young age, they still don’t have any teeth to gnaw on food and their eyes are closed so they can’t have any cheese.
Gerbils From three To five weeks Old
At this age, gerbils start to mouth and grow their tiny teeth which makes them able to gnaw on regular gerbil food but it’s best to stick to natural food like seeds.
However, they still feed on their mother’s milk when they get a chance, so it is best to provide food and not to separate them from their mothers at this age.
Gerbils at five weeks and older
At five months old baby gerbils are weaned and their teeth are fully grown and they can feed on regular adult food permanently.
At this age, the gerbil babies are considered adults and can have additional fruits, vegetables, and cheese to balance their diet.
Do gerbils like cheese?
Gerbils do like cheese and enjoy eating it in fact they’ll prefer it over many other foods, but it’s not their favorite food by any means.
The whole rats and rodents like cheese thing in movies and cartoons is no more than a myth, gerbils and other rodents will eat cheese but would prefer some fatty seeds over it.
In general, cheese makes it on the top of foods that gerbils would eat if given a choice so it makes a good treat.
Is cheese safe for gerbils?
Cheese isn’t toxic or poisonous itself so we can assume that it is safe for gerbils, but some types of cheese may contain added ingredients that could potentially be harmful to gerbils.
Cheese contains very little lactose levels, less than 6%, and studies have shown that gerbils and most rodents except for the golden hamster are lactose intolerant to levels higher than 20%.
Blue cheese on the other hand is toxic to most pets, the fungus used to make these cheeses can cause serious digestive troubles.
cheese is heavy on fat so it might cause your gerbil to become fat if consumed in large quantities so it’s better to use it as a treat.
Is cheese good for gerbils?
Cheese is a great source of calcium, fat, and protein. It also contains high amounts of vitamins A and B-12, along with zinc, phosphorus, and riboflavin. Cheese made from the milk of 100 percent grass-fed animals is the highest in nutrients and also contains omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K-2.Healthline
All of these nutrients can only be good for gerbils especially that some are not found in their seeds, fruits, and vegetables diet.
Cheese can be a good substitute for the insects gerbils feed on in the wild to get proteins but since they only feed on them occasionally this should also be the case for cheese.
How much cheese can gerbils eat?
In general, substitute and supplement foods, should not make more than 10% of the daily portion of the gerbil’s diet.
Cheese and fatty foods, in particular, should be less than that to avoid obesity, so a small quantity that is bite-sized is more than enough.
No matter how good and full of nutrients cheese is, too much of it will certainly have negative effects on the gerbil’s diet.
How often can gerbils eat cheese?
Cheese is a food gerbils like and would make a great treat, so it’s best to only use it on occasions to bond with your gerbil and to reward good behavior.
Cheese should not be fed to gerbils more than once or twice a month at most, anything more than that could make your gerbil fat.
The supplements you use to balance your gerbil’s diet including cheese, fruits, and vegetables should be multiple and used in turn.
What types of cheese can gerbils eat?
The types of cheese gerbils can eat are based on their levels of lactose and their toxicity, but in general, most cheese varieties are safe to feed your gerbil.
We are going to list the most popular and produced cheese varieties in the united states according to the US Department of Agriculture besides blue cheese.
Can gerbils eat blue cheese?
Blue cheese is one of those foods that you either love or hate passionately, however, gerbils don’t really have that choice.
Blue cheese with the Penicillium mold added to it is toxic to gerbils and many other pets for that matter, so gerbils can’t eat blue cheese.
If they do eat blue cheese gerbils could have serious gastric troubles and may need a visit to the vet.
Can gerbils eat processed cheese?
Processed cheese popularity has been declining fast in the US with the rise of awareness about the importance of fresh food.
However, processed cheese remains a popular choice in American households and the third most-produced cheese in the country mainly because it’s the easiest on the budget.
Processed cheeses are those made from real cheese and non-cheese products, like salt, food dyes, preservatives, extra dairy, and emulsifiers.
the added ingredients make the processed cheese not so healthy for gerbils that’s why they can’t eat it.
Can gerbils eat American cheese?
It may come as a surprise to some people but American cheese is no longer the most popular cheese in the US.
However, it still is appreciated by gerbils and they can eat it of course in small quantities as an occasional treat.
Generally, cheddar dominates the production of American cheese and is most probably what most gerbil owners would have in their fridge.
Can gerbils eat Italian cheese?
Italian cheese has made it to the top of the most popular cheeses in the US, and it’s understandable when you think about it.
On average today, Americans consume about 11.57 pounds of mozzarella per capita per year which is a lot and it’s natural that most people have it in their fridge most of the time.
So the idea of feeding it to gerbils will certainly cross the mind of many gerbil owners and luckily it’s perfectly safe to do so.
Can gerbils eat Swiss cheese?
Swiss cheese is certainly not in the top three most popular cheese varieties in the United States but it’s Iconic signature holes (eyes) have always been associated with rodents.
Tom & Jerry and other cartoons were not doing false advertising, gerbils can eat Swiss cheese and it’s perfectly safe for them.
Swiss cheese has nothing particular that makes it good or liked by gerbils(or other rodents) it just happens to be the one that has been associated with them in movies and cartoons for some reason.
Ways gerbils can eat cheese
The only form in which cheese can be fed to gerbils is fresh and natural with no additions, there should be no added ingredient to it.
Just take a small bite-sized portion of any natural variety of cheese except for blue cheese and processed cheese and serve it to your gerbil and bon appétit.
You have to make sure though that your gerbil eats the whole portion of cheese once given and remove the rest.
Gerbils are known to hoard food especially fatty food, that’s fine for seeds but the cheese will turn into a mold colony in a short period and can become a time bomb waiting to happen.
That’s why cheese should always be served in very small quantities that your gerbil will eat right away and the same thing goes for any food that will attract mold if stored in bedding.
Can gerbils eat cheese and onion crisps?
No, like we’ve explained earlier gerbils should not eat cheese that is mixed with any other ingredients.
Cheese and onion crisps are not a good mix for gerbils, plus it contains way too much salt which is not good for gerbils that naturally don’t consume too much water so they risk getting dehydrated.
In the case of dehydrated gerbils, water-rich fruits and vegetables are a good way to hydrate their bodies fast, there are a lot of them like tomatoes, watermelon, cucumber, avocado, or any water-based food.
Can gerbils eat cheese puffs?
Cheese puffs also known as corn curls are puffed corn snacks, coated with a mixture of cheese or cheese-flavored powders.
So most of the time it’s not even natural cheese used in these, which makes it not a good choice for gerbils.
Cheese puffs are a manufactured food that contains ingredients gerbils should not eat, they only can eat natural fresh food to avoid any gastric problems.
Cheese nutrient facts
Cheese is a good source of proteins, fat, calcium, and vitamins, they can only be valuable for a balanced and complete diet.
For the data geeks we’ve gathered in details the nutrient facts of cheese per serving size of 100g:Vitamins
|Folic acid||0.00 mcg|
|Vitamin A, RAE||330.00 mcg|
|Carotene, alpha||0.00 mcg|
|Carotene, beta||85.00 mcg|
|Cryptoxanthin, beta||0.00 mcg|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin||0.00 mcg|
|Vitamin B12||1.10 mcg|
|Vitamin B12, added||0.00 mcg|
|Vitamin B6||0.066 mg|
|Vitamin C||0.0 mg|
|Vitamin D||0.60 mcg|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||0.71 mg|
|Vitamin E, added||0.00 mg|
|Vitamin K||2.4 mcg|
|Saturated fatty acids||18.867 g|
|Butanoic acid||0.634 g|
|Decanoic acid||0.820 g|
|Dodecanoic acid||0.935 g|
|Hexadecanoic acid||8.625 g|
|Hexanoic acid||0.536 g|
|Octadecanoic acid||3.394 g|
|Octanoic acid||0.337 g|
|Tetradecanoic acid||3.005 g|
|Monounsaturated fatty acids||9.246 g|
|Docosenoic acid||0.001 g|
|Eicosenoic acid||0.065 g|
|Hexadecenoic acid||0.504 g|
|Octadecenoic acid||7.403 g|
|Polyunsaturated fatty acids||1.421 g|
|Eicosatetraenoic acid||0.053 g|
|Octadecadienoic acid||1.171 g|
|Octadecatetraenoic acid||0.000 g|
|Octadecatrienoic acid||0.114 g|
|Calcium, Ca||710.00 mg|
|Copper, Cu||0.030 mg|
|Iron, Fe||0.14 mg|
|Magnesium, Mg||27.00 mg|
|Phosphorus, P||455.00 mg|
|Potassium, K||76.00 mg|
|Selenium, Se||28.5 mcg|
|Sodium, Na||653.00 mg|
|Zinc, Zn||3.64 mg|
Conclusion: can gerbils eat cheese
- Gerbils can eat cheese as a supplement to their diet in small quantities.
- Cheese is a good source of proteins and other nutrients for gerbils.
- Gerbils can’t eat blue cheese and processed cheese.
- Cheese should be fed to gerbils fresh without any added ingredients.
- Cheese contains very little lactose and gerbils are only lactose intolerant to high levels of lactose.
- Gerbils should not be allowed to hoard cheese because it will attract mold and become toxic.
- Cheese is a perfect treat that gerbils should get only on occasions.
Other foods gerbils can eat
- Apples (without seeds)
- Almonds (not bitter almonds)
- Green beans