Peppers are a constant in many household fridges.
Whether they are the sweet bell peppers that go great in salads and tomato sauces or spicy chili peppers than bring an extra zing to our meals.
Many people love peppers, including me, and we all know that peppers are good for us.
But are bell and chili peppers safe for our pets? Can gerbils eat any kind of pepper and are there health benefits or risk you need to know about before feeding peppers to your gerbils?
This article is focused on whether gerbils can eat peppers, so before feeding them to your furry friend make sure you check out the information below.
Gerbils can eat bell peppers but they should not eat chili peppers. Bell peppers have lots of nutritional benefits for gerbils but they should still only be considered a treat as they are high in sugar. Chili peppers could cause issues for your gerbil’s digestive system so they shouldn’t have chili peppers at all.
Let’s first take a look at the health benefits of bell peppers, then we’ll look at health risks and answers some frequently asked question like how much bell pepper a gerbil can eat.
Health benefits of bell peppers for gerbils
Although not directly found in peppers, red bell peppers are packed with pro-vitamin A, which your gerbil’s body will convert into vitamin A.
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 B6 helps in the production of red blood cells, maintaining a healthy nervous system and aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat and amino acids.
There is loads of vitamin C in bell pepper. Red bell peppers, in particular, are one of the best sources of vitamin C you will find in any vegetable.
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.
Vitamin E is a group of fat-soluble vitamins that have great antioxidant effects.
They help to rid the body of ‘free radicals’.
Free radicals are stray atoms that bind themselves to cells in the body, these cells are then treated as invaders in the body and attacked, either being damaged or destroyed.
Vitamin E helps to prevent this process, leading to a range of health benefits and slowing down aging effects in the body.
This vitamin is vital in ensuring the body’s blood clotting capability is maintained.
Effective blood clotting is vital if your gerbil happens to get a cut or wound on its skin.
It’s also thought that vitamin K helps to support strong bones and all-round good bone health.
Potassium helps to control high blood pressure.
This helps to maintain a healthy heart and good blood pressure, putting less strain on the body as a whole.
Potassium has also been shown to support bone and muscle strength as the body ages.
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.
Health risks of bell peppers for gerbils
Peppers are generally a great food to give your gerbil as a treat, one of the best in my opinion.
They have much less sugar than most fruits but are still packed with all the goodness I’ve laid out above.
Having said that, too much bell pepper will still cause issues for your gerbil, so let’s take a look at the potential health risks of your gerbil consuming too much pepper.
Bell peppers aren’t too high in sugar when compared to fruit.
A bell pepper, for example, contains less than half of the sugar that an apple does.
But ultimately, that sweetness that makes peppers so tasty does come from sugar.
It’s a natural sugar but in excessive amounts, it can still be harmful to your pet 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.
And bell peppers do have quite a lot of fiber in them, whilst they have less than half the sugar of an apple they only have slightly less fiber.
Gerbils don’t need as much fiber in their diet as some other rodent species.
Herbivorous like rabbits and guinea pigs eat extremely high fiber foods, but since gerbils are omnivorous they eating a range of animal and plant-based foods and their fiber requirements are far lower.
An excess of fiber can block up the digestive system rather than helping to keep things moving. This can result in discomfort, constipation or diarrhea.
Digestive issues are never going to be nice for either your gerbil or you!
So, try and not overfeed your gerbil on fiber-rich treats like bell peppers.
Can gerbils eat red bell peppers
Gerbils can eat red bell peppers.
Red bell peppers have the highest amount of nutrients and are the best peppers to give your gerbil as a treat.
Can gerbils eat yellow bell peppers
Gerbils can eat yellow bell peppers.
Yellow peppers are fine for your gerbil to eat and they only have marginally fewer nutrients than red peppers do.
Can gerbils eat green bell peppers
Gerbils can eat green bell peppers.
Green bell peppers are just unripened peppers and they are still fine for your gerbil to eat.
They are the least nutritious type of pepper and have a more bitter flavor.
So if you have the choice a yellow or red pepper is the better option but if you only have green peppers then they are still a good treat for your gerbil.
Can gerbils eat bell pepper seeds
Gerbils can eat pepper seeds but they are a bit harder to digest.
You may want to remove the seeds just to make digestion easier and to reduce the risk of any digestive blockage that might cause constipation.
But peppers seeds tend to be so small that if your gerbil does eat a few they are very unlikely to cause any issues, so don’t worry about them too much.
How much bell pepper can my gerbil eat
Bell peppers aren’t too high in sugar compared to fruits like apples but they should still only be regarded as a treat.
Bell pepper should not become part of a gerbils daily diet.
You can feed your gerbil around a quarter of a bell pepper every week.
It’s a good idea to make treats extra fun by putting them in hard to reach places or maybe wrapped in some cardboard, just so your gerbil needs to put in the extra effort, it’ll also help towards burning off any excess sugar.
Can gerbils eat chili peppers
Gerbils should not eat chili peppers.
Chili peppers are very likely to cause a digestive upset for your gerbil.
On top of that, it will be very uncomfortable for them and will certainly burn their mouths.
Even mild chili will have this effect on a gerbil so make sure not to feed your gerbil anything that has any spicy ingredients in it.
A final note – All gerbils are individual
So, we’ve discussed that gerbils can eat bell peppers but they shouldn’t eat chili peppers, but there is one more thing to say.
All gerbils are different, and just because most should be fine eating bell peppers doesn’t mean they all will be.
Some gerbils will have different digestive sensitivities to a certain food, and older gerbils especially may find it hard to digest certain foods.
Pepper is a vegetable quite high in fiber so that could cause an issue for older gerbils especially if they eat too much.
With any new food, pepper included, you should always start with a small piece and then monitor your gerbil for a couple of days for any digestive issues.
They can be hard to spot in gerbils but signs may include diarrhea or a noticeable decrease in their activity level.
If you do see anything that concerns you I would recommend not feeding your gerbil pepper and finding an alternative treat, it may just not agree with their stomach.