Do Gerbils Eat Grapes 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 a grapevine wouldn’t grow well in this region.
Grapevines need water to grow and the desert doesn’t have enough water or rainfall. Therefore, only an oasis or artificial greenhouses can sustain grapevines. Unfortunately, this means that there are no grapes available in the natural habitat of gerbils.
Mongolian gerbils will eat seeds, roots, bulbs, and herbs. Depending on the time of year and their region, gerbils will also eat fruit and insects when they’re available. However, wild Mongolian gerbils don’t have grapes or grape seeds on their plate.
This doesn’t mean that pet gerbils won’t eat grapes or raisins 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 Grapes (Analysis)
You can find the nutritional value of grapes (and raisins) 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||3.2 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 grapes have less than 1% fiber per serving, while raisins have around 4 to 5% fiber per serving. These percentages are less than the fiber content of seed mixes and pellets for gerbils. Therefore, gerbils won’t have too many problems digesting grapes and raisins.
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.
Grapes contain around 7 mg of magnesium per 100 grams, which equals 0.07 grams per kilogram. However, raisins contain 36 mg of magnesium per 100 grams (0.36 grams per kilogram).
Most quality seed mixes and pellet diets will contain enough magnesium to keep your gerbils healthy. But grapes and raisins won’t do much to add magnesium to the diet of your gerbils.
Grapes are rich in vitamins. Vitamins play an important role in keeping gerbils healthy and preventing 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 grapes contain approximately 80% water. So when you give too many grapes or give them too many times in a week, your gerbil can get health issues such as diarrhea.
Fresh grapes contain around 15% sugar per piece and raisins even contain about 65% 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 grapes
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, gerbils’ correct calcium to phosphorus ratio is around [1.7]:.
A grape’s calcium to phosphorus ratio is :, which indicates that it isn’t good as part of the main diet. But as a treat, it can be given just fine.
Can Gerbils Eat Grapes? (Feeding Instructions)
Based on the nutritional value of grapes, we can conclude that gerbils can eat grapes. 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. According to the RSPCA, gerbils shouldn’t eat grapes. However, anecdotal evidence on forums and Facebook groups suggests that gerbils can eat grapes.
Now that you know that gerbils can eat grapes, we’re going to learn how many grapes they can eat and how many times a week you can give grapes to gerbils.
What kind of grapes can you give?
Grapes are edible fruit and you can find grapes almost anywhere in the world. You and your gerbils can eat them in different ways:
- dried or dehydrated (raisins)
You can also mix grapes into juice, but grape juice is low in fiber and high in sugar and should be avoided.
Fresh grapes and raisins
Fresh grapes are more popular than raisins, 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.
There is a notable difference between fresh grapes and raisins:
|Fiber||<1%||4 to 5%|
How many times can you give grapes and raisins?
Gerbils can eat small pieces of fresh grapes once a week. Dried/dehydrated grapes (raisins) 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. Grapes contain a lot of water and sugar, which can cause health issues.
How many grapes can you give?
Gerbils should only eat a small bite-sized piece (up to one teaspoon) of fresh grapes per gerbil per serving. Giving dried or dehydrated grapes (raisins) is not recommended because of their large percentage of sugar. But, if you give raisins, you should limit them to half a teaspoon.
Gerbils have a small stomach and giving too many grapes 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.
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 strawberries?
- Can gerbils eat avocados?