Most pet owners enjoy giving their pets a little treat from time to time.
Even when we’re treating our pets, it’s a good idea to try and give them something nutritious, something that will still be good for their health.
Apples seem like a good choice, but there are certain, extreamly improant, things to know about apples before you feed them to your gerbil.
In this article I’m looking at whether gerbils can eat apples, I’ll also discusses various frequently asked questions like can gerbils eat apples seeds and can they eat apple core.
Most of an apple is safe for gerbils to eat. Gerbils should not be fed apple seeds as they are toxic. You should also avoid feeding your gerbil the apple core as it is more difficult to digest than the surrounding flesh.
That’s the brief summary. Your gerbil can eat all of an apple except the seeds, but they should generally avoid the core as the surrounding flesh is more digestible.
But there’s much more detail we can look at. Let’s look at exactly what the health benefits and risks are, then I’ll look at some vital questions like how much apple your gerbil can safely eat.
Health benefits of apples for gerbils
Apples can be a great treat for your gerbil.
They are packed with nutrients and gerbils will also love the sweet taste.
There are certainly some health risk if your gerbils has too much apple, but let’s first look at some benefits.
Vitamin A is the vitamin in carrots that your parents said would help you to see in the dark.
There’s actually a lot of truth in that, vitamin A does support good eyesight, and a vitamin A deficiency can result in ‘night blindness’.
It also helps to support a healthy immune system and is involved in the production and function of white blood cells.
White blood cells help to capture bacteria and other pathogens in the bloodstream.
On top of that, vitamin A works along with vitamin D, protein and calcium to help maintain strong bones, allowing for proper growth and development.
Vitamin C helps to protect the body against cell and tissue damage as well as aiding the body to better absorb iron.
It also helps to produce collagen, that’ll lead to more healthy skin and bones for your gerbil and aids with wound healing if your gerbil were to have an accident.
Fiber is essential for healthy digestion. It has two categories, soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber helps to control the blood sugar level of the body and aids in ridding the body of fatty substances such as cholesterol.
Insoluble fiber helps to keep the digestive system moving, it will add weight but also softens to your gerbil’s stools which in turn will help the digestive system to work effectively.
This is quite often overlooked but apples actually contain a good amount of calcium.
That’s going to be great for your gerbil. Calcium helps to build strong bones and teeth, as well as thick fur with that lovely shiny look.
In addition to that, calcium also helps to ensure the blood clots effectively and helps to regulate muscle contractions, that’s important for vital bodily functions such as ensuring a strong regular heartbeat.
Potassium is great for helping to maintain a well functioning nervous system.
It also helps to regulate muscle and heart contractions as well as preventing high blood pressure.
Potassium has also been shown to support bone and muscle strength as the body ages.
Health risks of apples for gerbils
Apples have much the same health risks for gerbils as many other fruits.
In moderation, apples can be a great source of the vitamins and minerals I’ve listed above, but their sweetness comes with a downside!
Just like any fruit, the main reason your gerbil will love the taste of apples is that it’s sweet.
That sweetness comes from sugar, apples are natural sugar but in excessive amounts, it can still be harmful to your gerbil.
If your gerbil consumes too much sugar then they are probably going to start gaining weight, as the excess sugar is converted into fat.
That’s going to cause all sorts of problems, such as high blood pressure and cardiac stress, your gerbil will probably also become less active which will just add to the issues long term.
Fiber is great for the digestive system, but too much fiber can start to cause digestive issues of its own.
An excess of fiber can block up the digestive system rather than helping to keep things moving.
Excess fiber can result in discomfort, constipation or diarrhea.
Some small animal relatives to the gerbil, like rabbits, need a huge amount of fiber. That’s because they are herbevours and eat a very high fiber plant diet.
Gerbils are omnivorous, meaning they eat a range of plant and animal-based foods, as a result, they don’t need nearly as much fiber, hence the increased risk of digestive issues.
Digestive issues will be even more of a risk if you feed your gerbil the apple core, which contains more fiber than the rest of the apple.
Can gerbils eat apple cores
Although seedless apple cores are safe for gerbils to eat, I would recommend not feeding them apple cores as they are difficult to digest.
Your gerbil will be able to digest an apple core, but they are much more tough and fibrous than the surrounding flesh.
Your gerbil’s digestive system will much more easily be able to break down and extract all the nutrients from the surrounding apple.
Since your gerbil shouldn’t be eating that much apple anyway, I see little point in giving them the part that is hardest to digest, be kind and give them the juicy apple flesh!
Can gerbils eat apple seeds
Gerbils can not eat apple seeds. Apple seeds are toxic and gerbils should not eat them.
Apple seeds contain a chemical called Amygdalin, this is converted into Cyanide once chewed and is toxic.
Studies have shown that around two cups of ground-up apple seeds could be fatally toxic to a human.
I haven’t found a study on apple seeds specifically for gerbils. But judging from the human toxicity level above it may not take that many seeds to make your gerbil seriously ill.
Given how small gerbils are compared to humans it’s not hard to imagine that just a few seeds could cause problems.
There might be four or six apple seeds in an apple core if your gerbil ate all of them I think it would be a cause for serious concern.
Therefore, it’s vital to ensure that your gerbil doesn’t eat any apple seeds.
Any other part of the apple is safe to eat and it is only the seeds which have this toxin.
Can gerbils eat apple peel
Gerbils can eat apple peel. You do not have to peel an apple before giving it to your gerbil.
Apple peel is a great source of nutrients and actually contains far higher amounts of them than the rest of the apple.
An apple that still has its skin contains 332% more vitamin K, 142% more vitamin A, 115% more vitamin C, 20% more calcium and 19% more potassium than an apple which has been entirely peeled.
It is generally recommended that the best apples to feed your pets are natural apples that haven’t been sprayed with pesticides.
Of course, it’s not always pratical to find those, so just be sure to wash the apple before giving it to your gerbil.
At the end of the day, if we are happy to eat the apples then they will be fine for gerbils to eat too.
How much apple can a gerbil eat
You should only feed apples to your gerbil as a treat.
They should not be considered part of their standard daily diet and should be feed infrequently and in small quantities.
I would recommend feeding no more than one apple slice per week to your gerbil.
That’s a good amount to give them all the health benefits I’ve listed above, with little risk of the health risks caused by the sugar and fiber content.
A final note – All gerbils are different
You should still remember that some gerbils will find certain food more difficult to stomach than other gerbils.
Some gerbils may struggle to digest certain foods, especially older gerbils.
Wherever feeding your gerbil a new food, including apples, always watch them for a day or so for any signs of digestive issues.
Digestive issues can be hard to spot in gerbils, but noticeable things could be diarrhea or a sharp reduction in activity levels.
If you notice any unusual symptoms or behavior it’s probably worth not feeding your gerbil apples again and trying a different treat, their stomach just might not agree with it.