Can gerbils eat mealworms? Should you serve them dead?

can gerbils eat mealworms

The most important aspect of caring for a pet is to provide healthy nutrition for him, and the best way to that is to feed him what he would eat in his natural habitat or at least simulate it as much as you possibly can.

Gerbils are omnivores animals, meaning that they can eat both plant and animal matter, they generally consume seeds, grasses, and other plants but occasionally they can feed on small insects for some protein and to balance their diet.

As pets gerbils are generally fed seeds, hay, and some occasional fruits and vegetables treats to balance their diet.

So if you want to go the whole nine yards and provide for your gerbil insects to provide similar nutrition to what he can get in the wild it can be a nice addition to his diet.

But there are plenty of insects sold in pet stores as pet food and it would be hard to distinguish which ones can gerbils eat, that’s why we’re going to start with the most popular ones, mealworms.

So can gerbils eat mealworms?

Yes gerbils can eat mealworms and they are a good source of protein, fat, and carbs, live mealworms are perfectly safe for gerbils and they are a great stimulant to their insectivore instincts and a good addition for a complete diet but they should be fed to gerbils in reasonable quantities and only as an occasional treat.

Choosing the best and healthiest fruits and vegetables to supplement your gerbil’s main diet and balance it is very important, but not as important as choosing a healthy diet for them.

That’s why we recommend feeding your gerbils the Oxbow Garden Select Fortified Food for Gerbils (check current price at Amazon) a great and healthy choice because it’s made of pellets and it’s always a better idea since gerbils tend to be picky when served separate seeds and would pick the fatty seeds over others.

Do gerbils eat mealworms in the wild?

Gerbils are desert species that feed essentially on seeds, a variety of roots and grasses, and occasionally on insects for some protein.

Mealworms are the larval form of the mealworm beetle which probably originated from the Mediterranean region but are now present in many areas of the world as a result of human trade and colonization.

It is possible that in some parts of the world gerbils can find mealworms, but even if they don’t gerbils do feed on similar insects and worms in the wild.

What’s important to note is that gerbils don’t feed on insects on a daily basis, but they feed on them when they can get their hands on one occasionally, so feeding them too many mealworms is not a good idea.

Can baby gerbils eat mealworms?

can baby gerbils eat mealworms

From birth to the age of three weeks baby gerbils feed exclusively on their mom’s milk, and usually they open their eyes at the age of 17 to 19 days.

So at this age baby gerbils can not eat adult food including mealworms, and they are still fragile so it is best to avoid touching them anyway.

Between the ages of 3 to 5 weeks, gerbil pups start to gnaw on solid food as their teeth are fully developed, but they still rely on their mom’s milk for nutrition.

At this age, baby gerbils start exploring new solid food and can eat fruits, vegetables, and small insects and mealworms are safe if fed to them in small quantities.

Gerbil babies are weaned at the age of five weeks and are considered adult gerbils and can feed on anything you feed their parents and other adult gerbils including mealworms.

Do gerbils like mealworms?

Gerbils like small insects they consider them as high value food and would choose it over other treats like fruits.

Mealworms are used as treats to supplement the gerbil’s diet they are useful for their high protein content.

They are commercially available in bulk and are typically available in containers, commercial growers incorporate a juvenile hormone into the feeding process to keep the mealworm in the larval stage and achieve an abnormal length of 2 cm or greater.

Are mealworms safe for gerbils?

Mealworms are safe for gerbils as long as they’re bought from a reputable pet store, they have been linked to the e coli but when raised in good conditions they’re perfectly safe.

Some pet parents will advise against feeding live mealworms to gerbils based on the fact that they can bite them and potentially hurt them.

You’ll often hear in forums and on Youtube that you have to crush the mealworms’ heads before feeding them to gerbils but that is not necessary since gerbils are used to deal with live insects in the wild.

mealworms do not have strong jaws as some pet parents claim, and gerbils do deal with much stronger insects than mealworms.

Are mealworms good for gerbils?

Mealworms are great for gerbils, they are a high value treat that will supplement your gerbil’s diet with proteins he can’t get through his natural seeds diet.

Not only do they contain proteins but a good amount of fat and carbs and they are a great way to diversify your gerbil’s diet and at the same time awaken his insectivore instinct that’s why they are best served alive.

Mealworms are good for gerbils but should be consumed in reasonable quantities and not as a primary food since they do contain, fat, carbs, and protein and that’s it so they lack all the nutrients a gerbil needs to maintain a healthy body.

How many mealworms can gerbils eat?

As a general rule of thumb, supplements and treats should only constitute around 10% of the gerbil’s daily diet.

That’s why one large mealworm or two medium ones are more than enough for a gerbil to get the protein his body needs.

mealworms are fat heavy and consuming too many could make the gerbil fat, so even though your gerbil likes them and it’s entertaining to watch him deal with them so smoothly but they should be fed in moderation.

How often can gerbils eat mealworms?

gerbils can’t have mealworms every day, they are basic treats with only three nutrients, and using them every day will not be beneficial to your gerbil’s diet, on the contrary, they can make him overweight.

One mealworm a week is more than enough to keep your gerbil happy and have a balanced diet.

It is best to diversify the treats you give your gerbil and use a different fruit or vegetable every day so your gerbil can have all the nutrients that his seeds diet may lack.

Can mealworms bite your gerbil?

Whenever the subject of small rodents being fed mealworms is raised there are always some pet parents that will suggest killing the insects before feeding them to the pet because they have strong jaws and can bite.

This information is totally wrong, mealworms do not have strong jaws and they are not able to cause any trouble for a gerbil.

Gerbils are wild animals that are used to prey on small insects that are sometimes much stronger than mealworms and they do not need any help killing them.

If it does make you feel better then you can crush the mealworms’ heads before serving them to gerbils but they will prefer them alive.

The only danger we can point to when dealing with alive mealworms is that one can hide and do make it alive out of the gerbil’s cage and infest your home.

They are known as pests and can be a menace to insulation and an annoyance to people so never release live mealworms, and always make sure dead ones are in fact dead before disposing of them.

Mealworms nutrition facts


When we talk about the mealworms’ nutrition data there isn’t much to really talk about, they are basic organisms with very few nutritious elements.

As you can see in the table below they’re mainly a source of protein and fat and that’s it.

Moisture, %62.44
Fat, %12.72
Protein, %20.27
Fiber, %1.73
Ca, ppm133
P, ppm3345
Mealworms nutrition facts

Ways gerbils can eat mealworms

gerbils can have mealworms in two ways either live or dried although gerbils seem to like live ones.

can gerbils eat dried mealworms?

Gerbils can eat dried mealworms and they have almost the same nutrients as live mealworms but with less

Crude Protein (min) – 53%
Crude Fat (min) – 24%
Crude Fiber (max) – 9.5%
Phosphorus (min) – 0.6%
Moisture (max) – 10%

Here is a video of a gerbil enjoying some dried mealworms:

gerbil eating mealworms

can gerbils eat live mealworms?

Live mealworms are a better meal for gerbils than dried ones but it might be a challenge to keep them under control.

gerbils prefer live insects they can prey on their own, so if you have the possibility to get some, from a reputable breeder or a pet store it would be much better.

Conclusion: can gerbils eat mealworms

  • Gerbils can eat mealworms in small quantities as a treat on occasions.
  • Mealworms are a good source of fat and protein for your gerbils.
  • Mealworms can’t be used as main food since they only contain fat, carbs, and protein.
  • gerbils like to feed on live mealworms and they are safe for them to eat but they can have dried ones too.

Other treats gerbils can eat