Can Gerbils Eat Pears? (Fresh and Dried)

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, pears are a tasty fruit full of vitamins. But can gerbils eat pears, or are there better alternatives?

Gerbils can eat pears but only as a treat. You should feed only small pieces because of the high percentage of water. While dried berries contain less water, they do have more sugar per piece. Therefore, only feed pears as a treat once or twice a week.

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

Do Gerbils Eat Pears 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 pear tree wouldn’t grow well in this region.

Pear trees need water to grow and the desert doesn’t have enough water or rainfall to sustain pear trees. Only an oasis can sustain pear trees. Pear trees are best grown in cold and wet climates. The natural habitat of gerbils doesn’t fit this profile. This means that there are no pears 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. Pears aren’t available to them but this doesn’t mean that a gerbil won’t try a pear if you leave it in its enclosure.

Nutritional Value of Pears (Analysis)

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

NutrientAmount (per 100 grams)
Water84 g
Protein0.36 g
Fiber3.1 g
Sugars9.75 g
Calcium9 mg
Magnesium7 mg
Phosphorus12 mg
Vitamin C4.3 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 pears have 3% fiber per serving, while dried or dehydrated pears have around 8% fiber per serving. These percentages are similar to 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.

Pears contain around 7 mg of magnesium per 100 grams, which equals 0.07 grams per kilogram. Most quality seed mixes and pellet diets will contain enough magnesium to keep your gerbils healthy. Pears won’t do too much but can add a little bit of magnesium.

Vitamins

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

Water

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 pears contain approximately 84% of water. So when you give too many pears or give them too many times in a week, your gerbil can get health issues such as diarrhea.

Sugar

Fresh pears contain around 9% sugar per piece and dried or dehydrated pears even contain much more (60% 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 pears

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 pear’s calcium to phosphorus ratio is [1]:[1.33], which is not a good ratio for gerbils but also not as bad as some other fruit.

Can Gerbils Eat Pears? (Feeding Instructions)

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

What kind of pears can you give?

Pears are edible fruit and you can find pears almost anywhere in the world. You and your gerbils can eat them in different ways:

  • fresh
  • dried or dehydrated

Fresh, dried or dehydrated pears

Fresh pears are more popular than dried or dehydrated pears, 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 pears go through a process where most water is removed from the pear. The result is a smaller piece of pear that looks wrinkled.

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

How many times can you give pears?

Gerbils can eat small pieces of pear once or twice a week. However, if you routinely give more than that, the diet of your gerbil will become out of balance. Pears contain a lot of water and sugar and can cause health issues when you give too much.

How many pears can you give?

Gerbils should only eat a small piece of fresh pear (up to 10 grams) per gerbil per serving. If you give dried or dehydrated pear, you should give even less (up to 5 grams) because of the high sugar content.

TypeAmount per gerbil (grams)Amount per gerbil (oz.)
Fresh pear10 grams0.36 oz.
Dried or dehydrated pear5 grams0.18 oz.

Gerbils have a small stomach and giving too much pear 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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