It’s not always clear what we should feed our pets.
As summer approaches people are sure to be cranking on the BBQs (I know I will), and there aren’t many vegetables that go better with a BBQ than corn.
You might even be tempted to share a little corn with your gerbil friend, but can gerbils eat corn? Is corn safe for gerbils?
In this article, I’ll run through what I know about corn and gerbils.
I’ll discuss whether gerbils can eat corn, what the health benefits are, what the potential issues are and how much corn they can safely eat.
Gerbils can eat corn in small quantities. Corn contains plenty of healthy nutrients that are great for gerbils. However; there are some risks of eating too much corn and corn should always be considered a treat, not part of a daily diet.
I’ll detail the health benefits and risks of corn first, then I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about corn, including much much corn a gerbil should eat.
Health benefits of corn for a gerbil
Corn can make a great treat for your gerbil and it has loads of health benefits.
Let’s take a look at some of the main ones.
Folic acid is required within a gerbil’s body. It is vital for maintaining the structure of the cell membranes in your gerbil and is necessary for amino acid metabolism.
Selenium is a trace mineral and forms an important part of a gerbil’s diet. It is needed for the function of a gerbil’s thyroid gland.
Amongst other benefits, selenium also does the vital work of helping to support the immune system.
This mineral helps to control the nerve impulses and maintain correct cognitive function, muscle activity and heart performance.
Potassium also works in combination with calcium to help maintain strong, healthy bones, teeth and hair.
Fiber helps the digestive system of a gerbil function effectively, improving its metabolism and protecting the gut from potentially harmful bacteria building up.
This vitamin will help to regulate your gerbil’s metabolism and energy use. It also helps aid red blood cells, nervous system function and immune response.
An important antioxidant, vitamin C will rid your gerbil of ‘free radical’ potentially harmful atoms that damage other cells in the body.
It also helps to reduce inflammation and maintains cognitive function.
Important for the proper function of cells and metabolism of fat. Low vitamin E can result in slight and muscle issues.
Vitamin K helps your gerbil’s blood to clot effectively.
Health risks of corn for a gerbil
There are lots of health benefits of corn, but if given in excess there are also health risks.
These health risks can far outweigh the benefits if your gerbil eats too much corn, so always feed corn as an occasional treat, not part of a daily diet.
That risk is always heightened for our small pets as it doesn’t take much for a gerbil to eat more corn than they should.
An excessive amount of fiber can lead to your gerbil having digestive issues. This can also be quicker to occur in older gerbils who may have more difficulty digesting fiber effectively.
An excess of fiber can lead to bowel problems causing constipation or diarrhea.
In turn, these issues can lead to your gerbil not absorbing the correct amount of nutrients and materials it needs from its food.
The sugar content of corn is actually quite low so this isn’t too much of a risk.
Even sweetcorn which is the corn people are most familiar with eating only contains about 3% sugar. So, as a general treat, corn is fine for a gerbil.
However, if given in excess this sugar content can cause problems. Excess sugar can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure and possibly heart disease.
These risks can easily be avoided by only feeding your gerbil corn as an occasional treat.
I discuss the correct amount of corn for your gerbil later in the article.
Can gerbils eat corn on the cob
I would not recommend feeding your gerbil corn on the cob.
The cob is inedible and digestion of it can quite easily lead to digestive issues and blockages.
It’s not a sure thing that eating corn on the cob will cause your gerbil issues, but given how easy it is to remove the corn I don’t think there is any point taking the risk.
If you’re planning to feed your gerbil corn then make sure it has been cut from the cob first.
Can gerbils eat popcorn
Gerbils should only ever eat completely unflavored popcorn.
Gerbils shouldn’t have popcorn with any added salt or sugar. Just plain corn kernels that have been air-popped with heat.
That pretty much rules out any popcorn you can buy from a store.
However, if you’re making your own popcorn at home then your gerbil can eat it unless you have added any other ingredients like sugar or salt.
Can gerbils eat sweetcorn
Gerbils can eat sweetcorn.
Sweetcorn is essentially the same product as corn and is actually the one you are more used to eating. All the guidelines in the article also apply to sweetcorn.
Despite the name, the amount of sugar in sweetcorn is still relatively low compared to other treats.
As long as you give it to your gerbil in moderation and only as an occasional treat then sweetcorn is a perfectly healthy treat for them to have.
Talking about moderation, let’s look at how much corn a gerbil can eat.
How much corn can a gerbil eat
Due to gerbil’s small size they should not have much corn.
I would recommend between two to five kernels at a time, every few days at most.
Corn should not be part of a gerbils standard daily diet.
If you feed your gerbil corn at that recommended amount then they should get the health benefits without much chance of the health risks.
Of course, that is assuming they aren’t getting lots of other treat in between too.
Always show caution when trying new foods
I always try to stress that no matter what information I give you, you must always be cautious when giving your gerbil new foods.
Never just assume that you gerbil will be ok to eat corn or any other new food.
Corn will be perfectly fine for most gerbils to eat in moderation but some may be naturally intolerant and older gerbils may struggle to digest their fiber content effectively.
Whenever you feed your gerbil a new food you should monitor them for a few days, issues can be hard to spot in gerbils but look for signs of decreased activity or unusual stools.
If you see anything that concerns you then don’t feed them any more corn as it just might not agree with their stomach.
If the symptoms persist and don’t seem to be fading then you may want to consult with your vet.