Gerbils love to eat all kinds of seeds and need a balanced diet to keep them healthy. However, an occasional (healthy) snack can bring a little bit of variation in the diet. For example, kiwis are a tasty fruit full of vitamins. But can gerbils eat kiwi, or are there better alternatives?

Gerbils can eat kiwi but only as a treat. You should feed only small bite-sized pieces because of the high percentage of water. Dried kiwi contains less water but more sugar. Fresh kiwi can be given as a treat once a week. Dried or dehydrated kiwi should be given less often.

Fruit should never replace the main diet of gerbils. Gerbils are desert animals and they naturally feed on seeds and grasses. Specially formulated seed and pellet mixes contain all nutrients that your gerbil needs to live a long and healthy life. 

Many seeds and pellet mixes contain a small percentage of fruits, so an occasional (piece of) kiwi won’t hurt your gerbils. However, you should only give small amounts. There are also several ways to feed kiwi to gerbils (fresh, dried, dehydrated); some are better than others.

Do Gerbils Eat Kiwi in the Wild?

Gerbils live in arid regions and Mongolian gerbils are no exception. Mongolian gerbils live in grassland, shrubland, and desert areas 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 kiwi vines wouldn’t grow well in this region.

Kiwi fruit growing on a vine

Kiwi vines need water to grow and the desert doesn’t have enough water or rainfall to sustain kiwi vines. Only an oasis can sustain them. Kiwi vines are best grown in semi-tropical climates. The natural habitat of gerbils doesn’t fit this profile. This means that no kiwifruit is available in the gerbils’ natural habitat.

Mongolian gerbils will eat seeds, roots, bulbs, and herbs. When they’re available, gerbils will also eat fruit and insects, depending on the time of year and their region. Kiwi isn’t available to them but this doesn’t mean that a gerbil won’t try a kiwi if you leave it in its enclosure.

Nutritional Value of Kiwi (Analysis)

You can find the nutritional value of kiwis on FoodData Central, a US Department of Agriculture database. Below you can find the most important data:

NutrientAmount (per 100 grams)
Water83.5 g
Protein1.1 g
Fiber3 g
Sugars9 g
Calcium34 mg
Magnesium17 mg
Phosphorus34 mg
Vitamin C92.7 mg

Fiber

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 kiwis have 3% fiber per serving This percentage is lower than the fiber content of seed mixes and pellets for gerbils.

Minerals

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.

Kiwis contain around 17 mg of magnesium per 100 grams, which equals 0.17 grams per kilogram. Most quality seed mixes and pellet diets will contain enough magnesium to keep your gerbils healthy. Kiwi won’t do too much but can add a little bit of magnesium.

Vitamins

Kiwis are rich in several vitamins and have a high concentration of vitamin C. Vitamins play an important role in keeping gerbils healthy and can prevent certain health issues.

Water

Gerbils don’t drink much water, but they should always have access to water. 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 kiwis contain approximately 84% of water. So when you give too many kiwis or give them too many times in a week, your gerbil can get health issues such as diarrhea.

Sugar

Fresh kiwis contain around 9% sugar per piece and dried or dehydrated kiwis even contain much more (65% or more). 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 kiwis

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]:[1].

A kiwi’s calcium to phosphorus ratio is [1]:[1], which is neither good nor bad for gerbils. If you only use kiwis as a treat, the ratio does have limited influence and the main diet will keep the ratio in check.

Can Gerbils Eat Kiwi? (Feeding Instructions)

Based on the nutritional value of the kiwi, we can conclude that gerbils can eat kiwis. 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 kiwi, we’ll learn how many kiwis they can eat and how many times a week you can give kiwi to gerbils.

What kind of kiwi can you give?

Kiwi is an edible fruit; you can find kiwis almost anywhere in the world. You and your gerbils can eat them in different ways:

  • fresh
  • dried or dehydrated

Fresh, dried or dehydrated kiwi

Fresh kiwis are more popular than dried or dehydrated kiwis, 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 kiwis undergo a process where most water is removed from the kiwi. The result is a smaller piece of kiwi that looks wrinkled.

Dried or dehydrated kiwi contain more sugar but less water. Giving dried or dehydrated kiwi to gerbils is not recommended, but occasionally giving them as a treat won’t hurt your gerbil. If you do feed dried or dehydrated kiwi, limit this to once a week or, even better, once a month.

You can buy dried and dehydrated kiwi (such as these tiny kiwi slices) or you can make them yourselves with a food dehydrator.

How many times can you give kiwi?

Gerbils can eat small pieces of fresh kiwi once a week. Dried or dehydrated kiwi 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. Kiwis contain a lot of water and sugar, which can cause health issues.

How many kiwis can you give?

Gerbils should only eat a small bite-sized piece (up to one teaspoon) of fresh kiwi per gerbil per serving. It’s not recommended to give dried or dehydrated kiwi because of its large percentage of sugar. But, if you give dried or dehydrated kiwi you should limit it to half a teaspoon.

Gerbils have a small stomach and giving too much kiwi 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:

If you’re interested in getting gerbils as pets, you should read our beginner’s guide to keeping gerbils as pets and our gerbil care guide.

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