16 Comments on BAD FOOD FOR GERBILS TO EAT


Like in all mammals, including us, there’s some food that we can not eat because for us it is either toxic, hard to digest or not digestive at all, and that can cause some serious problems. The same goes for gerbils. We can’t just give them anything to eat, we ourselves won’t eat anything that we see either, will we?

Gerbils can be picky with their food sometimes and probably won’t eat all the good stuf for their health, and will like something that isn’t really good for them like for example they love sunflower seeds but shouldn’t eat to much of them because the seeds contain a lot of fat. Or even worse chocolate.

Once I left a chocolate bar on my bed (unopened), and my gerbils somehow managed to escape their home and when I got home they were on my bed chewing the chocolate bar, luckily they didn’t chew a lot of the chocolate before I returned home, I immediately hid all the chocolate and candy so they have no access to it at all.

It is up to us that we provide them a diet as healthy as possible so that they can live a happy and healhty life. Ofcourse, it doesn’t need to be as strictly as said, treats are good for them too, but everything in its measures, some treats are given once a day and some once a week.

There’s a lot of food that gerbils can eat, but here are the ones that you should avoid so your gerbils can stay healthy without problems:

– Black nightshade
– Buttercups
– Clematis
– Clover is high in prussic acid (cyanide)
– Coltsfoot can cause cancer and is toxic to the kidneys of rodents
– Daffodil
– Dairy products (gerbils are lactose intolerant and can’t digest milk)
– Dandelion (can cause cancer and is a diuretic)
– Deadly nightshade
– Garlic, onion, leeks and chives are dangerous and can cause haemolytic anaemia (abnormal breakdown of red bood cells)
– Hemlock
– Hydrangea
– Ivy
– Kidney Beans (raw)
– Laburnum
– Laurel
– Oleander
– Poinsettia
– Potato (raw)
– Potato tops
– Rabbit Mix (containing antibiotic ingredients)
– Rhododendron
– Rhubarb
– Rhubarb (raw)
– Rhubarb leaves
– Shallots (destroy blood cells)
– Tomato leaves
– Yarrow
– Yew
– Yucca

*Edit: One of our followers posted that their gerbil accidentally ate their Pothos plant (Devil’s Ivy) which unfortunately resulted in its death. I just wanted to warn everyone who has decorational plants in their house and lets their gerbil run around to take caution, so you can prevent things like that from happening.*

The absolute nono’s:

can kill your gerbil with just a drop. Avoid giving any kind of alcoholic beverages to your gerbils.

Avocado fruits have a creamy, greenish-yellow flesh containing a high amount of fat that is primarily monounsaturated fats (liquid at room temperature but start to solidify at refrigerator temperatures).  Gerbils can get severe poisoning or it can even result in death if they eat avocado (leaves, bark, skin, or pit). Avocado contains a toxic fatty acid derivative which is known as persin. If eaten a lot it can cause poisoning, and even death.

Chocolate is toxic for many animals including rodents, and should be avoided even as a small treat, because it contains a toxic chemical substance called Theobromine and a small amount of caffeine. Toxicity of Theobromine depends on the animals weight, the type of chocolate and how much the animal took of it. Theobromine affects an animals heart, central nervous systema and kidneys. It can cause cardiac arrhytmias, seizures and in worst case a heart attack. Other sweets should be avoided too.

Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, tangerines, limes or grapefruit should be avoided (or given only in very small amounts – dried citrus fruit preferable) because of their acidity, which is to high for gerbils .

Coffee/tea and similar beverages contain a high amount of caffeince which is dangerous for gerbils (small animals), as they are already active enough, they don’t need any more substances for keeping them up and more active.

Vegetables/Fruit containing too much water such as lettuce and cabbage can have some dangerous laxative effects on your gerbils, so if you do feed your gerbils with them do it in small amounts.

Fruit seed from apples, oranges and peaches contain dangerous substances called cyanides, which can kill your animal.

Uncooked eggs can have a bacteria called salmonela, not necessary in them but more probable on their surface. To avoid that, cook the egg in boiling watter, that should kill the bacteria. If a gerbil gets infected with salmonela, one of the main simptoms will be diarrhea and it can be deadly. If you notice that somethin’s wrong, visit the vet asap. Be sure that you don’t touch the feces and wash your hands so you avoid getting infected too.

Note that not every food named here is a big danger for your gerbils. Some just have to be given less often and in smaller amounts, and others have to be avoided for sure, which you have already read above. Every person, owner, expert has their own theories of what a perfect diet is, what food to/not to use and how to overall care for a gerbil. I did my research and put my own opinions of bad food for gerbils here. Let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree with my list.


  1. Jen

    Thank you Christina for the great list of foods gerbils should never eat! I find it very confusing when trying to determine what they can eat, especially when you see people posting various pictures of their gerbils or hamsters with foods, flowers, etc. that you assume they are probably eating. Little did we know that those foods may be harmful.

    I never knew that dandelions and some of the other plants are toxic. I also liked your detailed nono’s of people food and why they are toxic and can harm gerbils. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Kristina Post author

      Hello Jen, I am glad that this post gave you some usefull information about bad food for gerbils. In first when i just got my gerbils it was really confusing for me too, which food is good and which not, especially like you said when seeing other people pictures of their pets with various foods. So I did a lot of research and decided to make a list.
      It is good to do some resesearch to find out what is good and what is bad so that our pets can stay healthy.:)

  2. Lamont

    Way trendy, some valid points! I appreciate you making this post available, the rest of the website is also high quality.
    Have a enjoyable.

  3. Sierra Boshart

    Thank you so much for this! I just got my first gerbil today(his name is Felix and hes an early christmas present from my daddy) and I wanted to make sure that i am feeding him the correct things. My school serves alot of fresh veggies, and alot of it gets thrown away so im gonna start bringing that home so he can have a well balanced snack along with his regular food. I wanted to make sure I didnt kill him!

    1. Kristina Post author

      I am glad that this helped you in any way. I love to see owners like you who care for their pets so much. Little Felix has a lovely and caring home.
      Just make sure to wash the veggies and give in smaller amounts as treats.
      If you have any questions you can contact us on social media or by e-mail (
      Happy holidays, wish you all the best!:)

  4. Valerie Shourie

    Hi Kristina,

    Our Gerbil die over the weekend after eating my Pothos plant. I just want you guys to be aware.


    1. Kristina Post author

      Hi Valerie,
      I’m so sorry for your loss, it is really hard to lose someone u love. Thank you for your warning it is highly apreciated!
      Wish you all the best!


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