Do Gerbils Eat Apricots in the Wild?
Gerbils live in arid regions and Mongolian gerbils are no exception. Mongolian gerbils live in an area with grassland, shrubland, and desert and are used to living with only a limited amount of water.
The temperatures in the natural habitat of these gerbils can get up to 50 °C (122 °F), although usually, the temperatures are lower. Water is scarce in this region and you would think that an apricot tree wouldn’t grow well in this region.
Apricot trees need water to grow and the desert doesn’t have enough water or rainfall to sustain apricot trees. Only an oasis can sustain apricot trees. This means that there are no apricots available in the natural habitat of gerbils.
Mongolian gerbils will eat seeds, roots, bulbs, and herbs. When they’re available, gerbils will also eat fruit and insects, but this depends on the time of year and their region.
So, wild Mongolian gerbils don’t have apricots or apricot seeds on their plate but this doesn’t mean that pet gerbils won’t eat apricots when you give them. However, gerbils don’t get a lot of nutritional value from them and don’t need them to stay healthy.
Nutritional Value of Apricots (Analysis)
You can find the nutritional value of apricots on FoodData Central, a database of the US Department of Agriculture. Below you can find the most important data:
|Nutrient||Amount (per 100 grams)|
|Vitamin C||10 mg|
Gerbils have a very simple stomach and don’t have a well-developed cecum and colon. According to the book Nutrient Requirements of Laboratory Animals, this suggests that they are adapted to mostly eat low-fiber foods such as seeds.
Fresh apricots have 2% fiber per serving, while dried or dehydrated apricots have around 7% fiber per serving. These percentages are similar to or even less than the fiber content of seed mixes and pellets for gerbils. So, gerbils won’t have too many problems digesting apricots.
Gerbils are prone to seizures and there is an elevated risk when gerbils are fed a low-magnesium diet. However, according to a study from Harriman in 1974, this risk was eliminated when magnesium was added to the diet at 1.39 grams per kilogram. Magnesium also plays a role in preventing alopecia and weight loss. The recommended dietary magnesium concentration is 1.5 grams per kilogram, while the minimum is 1.0 grams per kilogram.
Apricots contain around 10 mg of magnesium per 100 grams, which equals 0.1 grams per kilogram. Most quality seed mixes and pellet diets will contain enough magnesium to keep your gerbils healthy. Apricots won’t do too much but can add a little bit of magnesium.
Apricots are rich in several vitamins and have a very high concentration of vitamin C. Vitamins play an important role in keeping gerbils healthy and can prevent certain health issues.
Gerbils don’t drink a lot of water, but they should have access to water at all times. They’re desert animals and can survive a long time without water. In captivity, you should provide fresh water daily.
A gerbil’s body isn’t adjusted to drinking a lot of water and apricots contain approximately 86% of water. So when you give too many apricots or give them too many times in a week, your gerbil can get health issues such as diarrhea.
Fresh apricots contain around 9% sugar per piece and dried or dehydrated apricots even contain around 50% sugar per piece. Gerbils aren’t used to eating many sugary foods and their sugar intake should be limited. Too much sugar is bad for your gerbil’s teeth and their body will have problems digesting it.
Calcium to phosphorus ratio of apricots
The calcium to phosphorus ratio is a ratio between two minerals. It’s vital for bone growth and bone health in humans and rodents. According to the book Nutrient Requirements of Laboratory Animals, the amount of calcium that gerbils need is 5.0g/kg diet and the amount of phosphorus is 3.0g/kg diet. Based on this data, the correct calcium to phosphorus ratio for gerbils is around [1.7]:.
An apricot’s calcium to phosphorus ratio is :[1.76], which is also an indication that it isn’t good as part of the main diet. But as a treat, it can be given just fine.
Can Gerbils Eat Apricots? (Feeding Instructions)
Based on the nutritional value of apricots, we can conclude that gerbils can eat apricots. However, they shouldn’t be the main diet and should only be given occasionally. Most herbs and vegetables are better alternatives to feed more regularly.
Now that you know that gerbils can eat apricots, we’re going to learn how many apricots they can eat and how many times a week you can give apricots to gerbils.
What kind of apricots can you give?
Apricots are edible fruit and you can find apricots almost anywhere in the world. You and your gerbils can eat them in different ways:
- dried or dehydrated
Fresh, dried or dehydrated apricots
Fresh apricots are more popular than dried or dehydrated apricots, but they contain more water and less fiber per serving. Fruits high in water content can cause minor health issues, especially when too much is given.
Dried or dehydrated apricots go through a process where most water is removed from the apricot. The result is a smaller piece of apricot that looks wrinkled.
There is a notable difference between fresh and dried/dehydrated apricots:
|Nutrient||Fresh apricot||Dried/dehydrated apricot|
How many times can you give apricots?
Gerbils can eat small pieces of fresh apricot once a week. Dried or dehydrated apricots should be limited to only once every two weeks or once a month. If you give more than that, your gerbil’s diet can become unbalanced. Apricots contain a lot of water and sugar, which can cause health issues.
How many apricots can you give?
Gerbils should only eat a small bite-sized piece (up to one teaspoon) of fresh apricot per gerbil per serving. It’s not recommended to give dried or dehydrated apricot because of its large percentage of sugar. But, if you give dried or dehydrated apricot, you should limit it to half a teaspoon.
Gerbils have a small stomach and giving too much apricot might lead to your gerbil not eating its daily seed or pellet mix. This would be similar to eating only snacks the entire day and not having the appetite to eat a nutritional meal.
Can gerbils eat apricot kernel (seeds)?
You should never give apricot seeds to gerbils. These seeds contain the chemical compound amygdalin, which is composed of cyanide and sugar. When your gerbil chews on the seed it will release the cyanide. Cyanide is poisonous and will cause to death of your gerbil quickly, even in small amounts.
Can gerbils eat dried apricots?
Gerbils can eat dried apricots but only in very small amounts. Dried apricots contain a high amount of sugar which isn’t healthy for gerbils. Therefore you should only give them on rare occasions and only in a small amount (up to half a teaspoon).
Want to Learn More?
If you’re interested in learning more about gerbils as pets, please read the following articles:
- Complete and illustrated gerbil diet guide
- Can gerbils eat fruit? (List of safe fruits to give)
- Can gerbils eat bananas?
- Can gerbils eat apples?
- Can gerbils eat grapes?
- Can gerbils eat mangos?
- Can gerbils eat kiwi?