We all know that our canine companions are able to eat and enjoy many of the same foods us humans eat. But other pets have more specific dietary requirements. Cats, for example, are “obligate carnivores” which means that they require a meat-only diet to get all the nutrients they need to survive. What about small pets like gerbils, rabbits, and hamsters? Many new small animal owners are confused about how much commercial pet food and how much natural food like fruits and vegetables to feed them. Here’s a quick guide on what to feed your little furry friends.
Gerbils do well on a commercial gerbil food mix as their primary diet. You can supplement it with lots of nutritious, tasty treats too! Gerbils can eat oats, wheat, millet, cereal, and even dry pasta. They also can be fed plain popcorn, nuts, seeds and timothy or alfalfa hay. They eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, celery, cucumbers, peas, apples, grapes, and bananas. Gerbil experts recommend that you stay away from citrus fruits and leafy greens. You can even feed your gerbils live crickets and mealworms!
Rabbit owners should be aware that a good diet for rabbits is one that is high in fiber, but low-protein. Feed your rabbit quality commercial pellets with 18% minimum fiber content. They also need lots of fresh hay like timothy or oat. Unlike gerbils, rabbits can (and should) eat plenty of leafy green vegetables…approximately one cup per 4 pounds of body weight. Choose greens like kale, bok choy, turnip greens, radish tops, and parsley. Feed other vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and squash in smaller amounts…and save yummy fruits (like apples, berries, and melons) for special treats!
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While hamsters have lots of energy and a fast metabolism, they also tend to stash away their food to eat later, so hamster owners need to be careful not to overfeed their hamsters. An empty bowl does not necessarily mean an empty stomach! Feed your hamster commercial hamster food mix, supplemented with small amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables. Hamsters like carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, bananas, and pears. You can also give them a little protein like hard-boiled egg or mealworms. Spread some peanut butter and seeds on your little guy’s chew sticks for an extra-special treat!
- AH Printing