Is Cheese Safe For Gerbils? [Can They Eat It?]

Can gerbils eat cheese?

Yes, gerbils can have cheese in moderation. However, keep in mind that gerbils are lactose intolerant and can cause digestive problems like diarrhea, bloating, and other discomforts.

However, a bite or two won’t likely make you gerbil sick, but it’s not the best choice.

Can Gerbils Eat Cheese

In fact, there are a lot of snack options for gerbils with high nutritious value and no or minimal side effects.

Read to know more.

What Do Gerbils Eat In The Wild?

What they eat in the wild is an important question because it helps you understand their eating habits and dietary requirements.

Gerbils are omnivore rodents usually found in desert regions, so they typically eat a dry type of food like grasses, seeds, and roots. However, they are not limited to it.

They also eat a small number of insects like mealworms and other found in the deserted area when they get a chance to.

This means cheese is nowhere in their natural diet.

But it doesn’t mean gerbils cannot have cheese; they can eat it but in small quantities. Gerbils are lactose intolerant which means their body cannot digest the milk protein like most omnivore animals.

So, for an owner, it’s important to mimic their pet’s wild eating habits by offering the food they usually eat in the wild. For omnivores like gerbils, it’s a mixture of grain, seeds, and pellets. Additionally, a small quantity of vegetables and fruits is essential for complete nutrients.

Can I Feed Cheese To My Gerbils?

Yes, you can feed cheese to your gerbils; however, I do not recommend it. The reason is simple, cheese is processed food and not suitable for your gerbils.

However, a bite or two won’t likely harm them.

Gerbils are lactose intolerant which means they cannot digest the milk protein of the cheese efficiently because they do not have the enzyme for it, resulting in upset stomach, bloating, or tummy ache.

Can I Feed Cheese To My Gerbils

Besides, cheese is too fatty for them. Gerbils usually eat a light-fat diet, primarily grasses, seeds, and pellets. Too much fat can lead to several health problems like obesity.

Thus, if your gerbils happen to eat a small bite of cheese, it’s fine but does not feed them intentionally. It can harm your gerbils.

Do Gerbils Like Cheese?

According to research, most gerbils like sweet treats, any fruits, and definitely cheese. Cheese is rich in fat and calories that attract your gerbils. So, if you see your pet nibbling on cheese, you’ll know why.

If you look closely, gerbils are similar to rats, and they love eating cheese. In fact, they can be so addictive that they’ll reject their regular food.

This could be dangerous as cheese doesn’t provide complete nutritional value to your gerbil, leaving them malnourished.

Gerbils need a diet of high-quality grass, seeds, and pellets.

So, it’s important to keep cheese in a safe and secure place so your pet cannot reach them easily.

Is Cheese Safe For Gerbils?

Cheese is absolutely safe for gerbils. The only catch is it should be in limited quantities. Too much cheese can be harmful to gerbils for several reasons.

Firstly, gerbils are lactose intolerant, which means they cannot digest the milk protein of cheese efficiently, which can cause digestive discomforts like tummy aches or diarrhea.

Besides, cheese is high in fat and protein, which is not suitable for gerbils. Too much fat can lead to several health problems like obesity.

Thus, if you want to feed your gerbil cheeses, do it in moderation.

Health Benefits of Cheese

Cheeses have no particular health benefits for gerbils except protein and fat. They also contain some vitamins and minerals, which are good for your pet but insufficient to keep your gerbils healthy.

For example, cheese contains vitamins A, B2, and B12, calcium, zinc, and other essential nutrients for a healthy being.

Nutritional Benefits: 100g (USDA)

  • Calories: 402
  • Total Fat: 33 g
  • Carbohydrate: 1.3g
  • Sugar: 0.5 g 
  • Protein: 25g

Problems With Cheese

Cheese is not toxic for gerbils; however, they are not the best choice for them. Gerbils are omnivores, meaning they primarily eat a plant-based diet such as grains, grass, and seeds. They do eat small insects and eggs if they get the chance to.

This means cheese or milk product is clearly not a part of their regular meal. However, they can eat small amounts of cheese, approx 1-tsp or less.

More than that can be problematic.

For example, gerbils can experience digestive problems due to lactose intolerance. Their body cannot efficiently digest the milk protein of cheese, resulting in tummy aches, bloating, diarrhea, and other digestive issues.

Besides, cheese contains a significant amount of fat and protein, which is not suitable for gerbils. Too much fat can lead to several health problems – especially in gerbils.

Thus, avoid feeding cheese to your little buddy; instead, opt for a health alternative (I have listed below). They are highly nutritious and cause no harm to your pet.

How Much Cheese Can Gerbils Have?

The thumb rule is gerbils can have less than 10% of their total diet as treats; it could be fruits, vegetables, cheese, or something else.

For example, you can give your gerbil a small bite (1 teaspoon) of cheese occasionally but don’t overdo it, as cheese is high in fat.

Gerbils are plant-based eaters and do not need high fat in their diet. They can easily put on weight which leads to a number of other health problems such as obesity, blockage, and diabetes.

Thus, if you want to offer cheese to your little pet, keep the quantity small and limit the serving.

How Often Can Gerbils Eat Cheese?

1-2 times a week should be fine.

Gerbils are omnivore rodents that usually eat a light-fat diet consisting of high-quality grass, seeds, and pellets. On the other hand, cheeses are high in fat and calories, which can harm them in large quantities.

Too much cheese can lead to several health problems, like diarrhea and obesity. Cheese is highly addictive, so be aware of that too.

However, cheese has several health benefits too, but it can avail only if fed in small quantities. So, you can feed cheese to your pets but with a limit of 1-2 servings per week.

Remember, gerbils need a balanced diet. Any treat, whether cheese, fruits, or other vegetables, should be given after their dietary requirement is met.

Can Baby Gerbils Have Cheese?

It depends!

A newborn gerbil pup, till the 3rd week, should only nourish by its mother and should only consume their milk. This is the time when they need the most care and attention.

But the best part of gerbils is are weaned at the very early age of five to six weeks.

From the sixth week, gerbil starts growing teeth in their mouth to gnaw on food. At this stage, they should still consume milk along with other solid foods, including cheese.

At the 5th to 6th-month, gerbils are fully grown and should only feed on solid foods such as grass, seeds, and pellets. They lose the ability to digest lactose now so that they can have cheese, but it can be harmful to them.

How To Properly Introduce Cheese To Your Gerbils

Reminder: Gerbils are lactose intolerant, and we do not recommend feeding cheese to them; however, a bite or two won’t likely make them sick.

You can feed cheese to your gerbils; however, a few things should be kept in mind while feeding cheese.

Gerbils are omnivores, and their diet should be a high-quality mixture of grass, grains, and pellets. Additionally, fruits and vegetables should also be given to them occasionally. Cheese is not a part of their diet; however, a bite or two won’t harm your gerbils. It can be a great way to add a twist to their diet.

For example, a small teaspoon bite once in a while should be fine.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Start with choosing the right cheese for your gerbil. It should be plain, like Cheddar, Mozzarella, or Swiss. Avoid cheese with flavorings and additives; they can be highly dangerous for gerbils.
  2. The next step is to cut the cheese into bite-able size so that your pet can easily chew. It also prevents the risk of choking.
  3. The size shouldn’t be too small; a medium size should be fine.
  4. Serve them 1-2 small pieces of cheese at the start, and if they eat it, you can offer some more later, but if they reject, do not force it on them.
  5. Once they have finished eating cheese, remove the leftover from their cage before it spoils and starts stinking.

Before feeding cheese, ensure their daily nutritional requirement is met through their regular foods. Cheese is delicious and nutritious but not enough to fulfill their dietary needs.

Keep in mind that gerbils are lactose intolerant, so if your pet starts feeling unwell, you should immediately stop feeding it and contact your vet.

Can Gerbils Eat All Kinds of Cheese?

In short, no!

Gerbils are classified as rodents, and it’s natural to get attracted to cheese for them; however, not all cheeses are safe.

No doubt cheese is highly nutritious but unsuitable for gerbils because of its high fat. Moreover, gerbils cannot break down the milk’s lactase, making it difficult for them to digest; however, not all cheeses are the same.

For example, natural, unsalted with no added flavor cheese is best for your gerbils. They are low also low in fat and calories.

Here are some more safe options:

  • · Cheddar cheese
  • · Processed cheese
  • · Parmesan
  • · Ricotta
  • · Gruyere
  • · Swiss cheese
  • · Fresh cottage cheese

Alternative to Cheese For Gerbils

Gerbils can eat cheese, but it’s not the best choice for them. The reason is simple; gerbils are lactose intolerant just like cats meaning their digestive system cannot break down milk protein efficiently. 

As a result, they’ll experience upset stomach, bloating, or diarrhea. However, there are a lot safer, and healthy treat options for your pet.

Naturally, gerbils should eat a variety of grasses, leaves, bulbs, seeds, and pellets. Additionally, they can have fruits and vegetables in moderation.

Here are some alternatives:

  1. Fruits such as apples, pears, and melons are great choices.
  2. Vegetables like pumpkins, cucumbers, and carrots are good for an occasional treat.
  3. Pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds are also great supplements for your pet. They are also good for gnawing.

There are also commercial treat options available in the market. However, not all of them are good for your pet, so check the label before purchasing one.

Remember, gerbils should have access to fresh water all the time. It should be in a pet water bottle or bowl with your observation. If you are using a water bottle, it’s important to keep on check for leakage or damage.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, gerbils can have cheese in moderation. They are a rich source of protein, calcium, and other essential nutrients that are highly beneficial for your pet.

However, be aware that gerbils are lactose intolerant, just like cats, meaning they cannot digest milk products efficiently.

Besides, cheese is high in fat content which is not suitable for gerbils in large quantities. It can easily mess up with their digestive system leading to diarrhea. 

Also, regular consumption of cheese can cause obesity and other health problems.

Therefore, I do not recommend feeding cheese to gerbils; instead, I opt for other healthy treat options like hay, vegetables, and pellets.

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