Checking whether a certain food or drink is safe for your pet before giving it to them is always a good idea.
Sometimes you can be surprised about what certain animals can’t eat.
Milk seems like a natural product, and usually, we are less worried when feeding natural products to our pets.
But it isn’t quite that simple. That’s why in this article I’ll be discussing whether gerbils can drink milk, are there any health risks to gerbils drinking milk and I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about giving gerbils milk.
You should not feed your gerbil milk. Gerbils are lactose intolerant and won’t be able to drink much milk. However; there are some dairy-free milk options that your gerbil may be able to drink.
Health risks of gerbils drinking milk
Whilst milk does have some health benefits it is very likely to cause your gerbil digestive upset so it is just not worth feeding milk to them.
Milk is not an essential part of a gerbil’s diet and they don’t actually need to drink it.
There is a good reason for a gerbil to not drink milk and generally, you shouldn’t give your gerbil any milk.
Almost all gerbils will be lactose intolerant.
It isn’t really surprising that gerbils are lactose intolerant. In fact, outside of north-western Europe and the USA most humans are lactose intolerant.
In Southern Africa and Asia for example around 70%-80% of people are lactose intolerant.
If your gerbil is lactose intolerant (and they probably are) then drinking milk will cause a digestive upset in their system and may lead to vomiting or diarrhea, this, in turn, can lead to further complications as the body is not able to absorb the required nutrients from its food effectively.
Can gerbils drink full fat milk
Surprisingly, full-fat milk has a lower lactose content due to the exclusion of milk solids. Therefore, it may actually be less likely to make your gerbil feel unwell.
However, I still recommend that gerbils should not drink full-fat milk as the lactose content still poses a risk and of course the added fat content will not be good for a gerbils diet.
Can gerbils drink soy milk
Gerbils can drink soy milk.
Soy milk doesn’t contain dairy so the risk of lactose intolerance is removed. It also contains proteins that can be good for your gerbil’s health.
Can gerbils drink coconut milk
Gerbils can drink coconut milk.
It is full of beneficial vitamins and minerals, but it should be served in small quantities and infrequently.
Too much coconut milk can also cause diarrhea in gerbils so always keep the quantities low.
Can gerbils drink almond milk
Gerbils should not drink almond milk.
Some almonds are toxic to gerbils and all almonds are quite difficult to digest.
Almond milk is also very high in fat which can quickly lead to weight gain.
If your gerbil has already had some almond milk then don’t panic! Almond milk won’t be particularly toxic so your gerbil will be fine, but it’s a good idea not to give them any more in the future.
Can gerbils drink oat milk
Gerbils can drink oat milk.
Oat milk is dairy-free and quite low in fat. It also contains many beneficial vitamins and minerals.
Oat milk is however high in fiber. Whilst a balanced fiber diet is good for a gerbil’s digestive system, too much fiber can cause issues such as constipation and diarrhea.
Therefore, you should only feed your gerbil small quantities of oat milk infrequently.
Can gerbils eat milk chocolate
Gerbils should not eat milk chocolate.
Gerbils can not eat chocolate of any kind as it contains a chemical called theobromine, which is poisonous to gerbils.
Theobromine content is higher in dark chocolate, which is therefore much more dangerous, but milk chocolate can still be poisonous to your gerbil and can affect the heart, nervous system and kidneys.
In small quantities, milk chocolate shouldn’t cause your gerbil too much of an issue.
Theobromine levels aren’t that high in milk chocolate so if they have already eaten some then don’t worry too much.
Just make sure your gerbil doesn’t eat any milk chocolate in the future.
Can gerbils eat cream
Gerbils should not eat cream.
It’s quite likely that your gerbil will be lactose intolerant so I would recommend not feeding cream to your gerbil.
Additionally, the fat content of cream is very high which could lead to rapid weight gain in your gerbil even if you know they are lactose tolerant.
Should I feed my young or baby gerbil milk
You should not feed young gerbils milk.
The risk of inflicting digestive issues on a lactose intolerant gerbil by feeding them milk is not worthwhile as they won’t gain much additional value from the milk anyway.
If you’re trying to give them an extra calcium boost then adding ground up eggshell to their food is a great source of calcium.
How much milk can a gerbil drink
Gerbils should not drink any milk containing dairy at all.
If your gerbil is lactose intolerant there is no reason to give them any milk, the potential side effects will do more harm to their health than any of the nutrients and it’s not much of a special treat if it then makes them ill!
You can treat your gerbil to the non-dairy alternatives I have listed in this article, but even they should be served in small quantities and infrequently.
You should only feed your gerbil a teaspoon of the safe non-dairy milks I have listed at a time.
Non-dairy milk should certainly not be regarded as part of a normal daily diet for a gerbil.
Always approach new food or drink with caution
You should always take caution when feeding your gerbil any new food or drink.
Your gerbil may still not react well even to the non-dairy milk types I have listed above.
Older gerbils, in particular, may have digestive difficulties with new foods or drinks.
You should check for signs of digestive issues or discomfort for a day or so after feeding your gerbil something new.
The symptoms can be hard to spot in gerbils but signs may include diarrhea or a noticeable decrease in their activity level.
If you have any concerns then stop feeding your gerbil milk straight away, if the symptoms persist then you may want to consult with your vet.