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Cheese is a delicious food product made from milk. It is not found in the gerbil’s natural habitat, so it is not something that a wild gerbil would encounter. This makes many owners wonder, can gerbils eat cheese? What kind of cheese can gerbils eat?
You have come to the right website to get the answer you’re looking for; let’s find out today.
Can gerbils eat cheese?
To answer the question real quick, Yes, gerbils can eat cheese, but only in small amounts because they can be lactose intolerant. It contains too much fat and protein and not enough carbohydrates. Cheese contains vitamins A, B2, and B12, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc, which are beneficial to health.
Some of the known symptoms of lactose intolerance in pets include:
- general discomfort
Therefore, provide your gerbil with a more nutritious snack that will not cause digestive problems, and that means staying away from cheese and cheesy products as much as possible.
Can gerbils eat cheese?
The problem is that gerbils can become lactose intolerant once they are weaned. Weaning is the process by which all mammalian infants stop drinking breast milk. In gerbils, this occurs at about four to five weeks.
Once a gerbil is weaned, it will eat regular solid food like a fully grown gerbil. Then it will never drink milk again for the rest of its life. This is an evolutionary and physiological necessity because their intestine stops processing lactose, a sugar found in milk.
For adult gerbils, cheese is not as bad as milk. Aged cheeses, such as cheddar undergo a process in which bacteria eat lactose and replace it with lactic acid. Fortunately, even lactose-intolerant animals can digest lactic acid.
Do gerbils like cheese?
Gerbils, similar to most rodents around, will eat almost anything – this is the same as goats too. Gerbils live in the wild where there is not much food in the world. So, when they can find it, they have to eat what they can.
They especially like a small bite of food that contains a lot of calories. Cheese has a lot of fat and protein, which means that just a little bite will keep your pet full. So, gerbils love to eat it.
Can gerbils eat cheddar cheese?
Cheddar cheese is the most common type of cheese. You can find it in almost any store, and you probably already have some in the refrigerator. It is an aged cheese, which means it has to mature over a long period.
Cheddar is, in fact, one of the best cheeses a gerbil can eat if they absolutely need to.
The aging process involved in making cheddar cheese allows bacteria to process the lactose in cheddar cheese. It becomes something your pet can digest (lactic acid). In addition, most of the whey is excreted before the cheese is made. Whey contains most of the lactose.
Other cheeses are very low in lactose. These include Parmesan and Swiss cheeses, as well as white cottage cheese and ricotta. If you are unsure whether a particular cheese is high in lactose, check the ingredients. The lower the lactose, the better.
Can gerbils eat cheese puffs?
Cheese puffs do not contain real cheese, so lactose intolerance is not a problem.
The problem is that cheese puffs are empty calories. They contain a lot of carbohydrates while almost offering any vitamins or minerals.
Although cheese puffs are non-toxic to gerbils and do not cause any side effects, they are simply not suitable for gerbils consumption. You certainly can not raise a gerbil strictly on cheese puffs.
It is recommended to feed your pet gerbil nutritious fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, instead.
Can gerbils eat cheese and onion chips/chips?
Cheese and onion chips/chips, and any similar varieties, are the same as cheese puffs. They contain enormous calories but do not have the nutrition that gerbils need for healthy growth. They don’t offer enough protein or the minerals and vitamins that gerbils need.
Another negative is that the chips contain the wrong amount of fat for gerbils. Gerbils need 5 to 10 percent fat, which is much less. So, chips will make your gerbil fat.
Chips contain too much salt for a healthy diet. Gerbils don’t drink much water, and the salt can dehydrate them, which exacerbates the situation.
Nutritional Value of Cheese for Gerbils
Cheese is nutritionally different from the gerbil’s regular diet. Milk is formulated to suit the needs of infants, which means it contains a lot of protein fat, but almost no carbohydrates. While animals naturally do need protein and fat, they don’t need it derived from milk or milk products as much we humans do.
This issue applies to cheese, which has roughly the same nutritional content as milk. Based on nutritional values, the following are the nutrients found in cheddar cheese.
These numbers mean that 3% of cheddar cheese is carbohydrates, 23% is protein, and 33% is fat. These ratios are far from what gerbils need. A gerbil needs a maximum of 15% protein and 5-10% fat in its diet. It should derive the rest of its energy from carbohydrates, and cheese has almost none.
So if you feed your gerbil a lot of cheese, it will become unhealthy. If you provide it as part of your pet’s regular diet, it will quickly become overweight. You shouldn’t feed it very often, if at all.
Vitamins and minerals in cheese
One of the advantages of cheese is the vitamins and minerals it contains. Dairy products include a lot of minerals and vitamins because babies need them, and if they are not in milk, they cannot get them from anywhere else. But the same vitamins and minerals are also suitable for adults. Cheese contains the following components.
Small physical amounts of each of these nutrients.
But cheese contains more of them than many other foods. It also contains trace amounts of other vital minerals and vitamins, such as
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
As you can see, cheese contains a large number of minerals and vitamins that are beneficial to animals. It packs far more than other gerbil snacks, such as fruits and vegetables. Therefore, cheese, in contrast, may not be the worst snack you can feed your pet.
Health Benefits of Cheese for Gerbils
Cheese doesn’t have any specific health benefits that other foods don’t have. While it does contain the protein and fat that gerbils need, it has too much of it. If your gerbil ate only cheese, it would become unhealthy.
In addition, gerbils seem to get all the vitamins and minerals they need from their regular food. They don’t need “superfoods” or supplements as people do.
One mineral that gerbils need is magnesium. This mineral helps with brain health. Gerbils can have seizures, especially when they are young. But magnesium can help prevent this from happening.
Is cheese suitable for gerbils?
Side effects of cheese on gerbils
Cheese is not toxic to gerbils, so it will not kill or harm your pet. However, it can cause digestive problems like diarrhea and bloating, which can be very unpleasant and painful to your pet gerbil.
These digestive problems are caused by excess lactose due to the pets being lactose intolerance. The root of the problem is the body’s inability to digest lactose, a sugar found primarily in milk, cheese, and other dairy products.
According to Nutrition magazine, the body has an enzyme called “lactase” found in the intestinal tract. Lactase is helpful in breaking down lactose into two other sugars, namely, glucose and galactose. These enzymes are produced in the infant, but the body will stop producing if it does not continue to eat dairy products.
When a gerbil is weaned (stops drinking breast milk), it also stops producing lactase. This means that the lactase enzyme passes through the intestine without being digested. This can cause problems, including
- Bloating and cramping
- A feeling of nausea
This applies to gerbils as much as it does to humans, as the underlying mechanisms of intolerance are the same. These side effects will not kill your gerbil, but they are not pleasant. Diarrhea can also cause infections, which is another problem.
What types of cheese can gerbils eat?
The types of cheese gerbils can eat depend on their lactose content and toxicity, but in general, most cheese varieties can be safely fed to gerbils.
We will list the most popular and produced cheese varieties in the U.S. based on USDA data, with the exception of blue cheese.
Can gerbils eat blue cheese?
Blue cheese is one of those foods you both love and hate, however, gerbils don’t really have a choice.
Blue cheese with added Penicillium mold is toxic to gerbils and many other pets, so gerbils should not eat blue cheese.
If they do eat blue cheese gerbils may develop severe stomach problems and may require a visit to the veterinarian.
Can gerbils eat processed cheese?
The popularity of processed cheeses is rapidly declining in the United States as awareness of the importance of fresh foods continues to grow.
However, processed cheese remains a popular choice for American households and is the third most-produced cheese in the country, primarily because it is the easiest on a budget.
Processed cheese is made from real cheese and non-cheese products, such as salt, food dyes, preservatives, additional dairy products, and emulsifiers.
The added ingredients make processed cheese less healthy for gerbils, which is why they can’t eat it.
Can gerbils eat American cheese?
It may come as a shocking surprise to some, but American cheese is no longer the most popular cheese in the United States.
However, gerbils still enjoy it and they can certainly consume it in small amounts as an occasional treat.
Generally speaking, cheddar dominates the production of American cheese and is likely what most gerbil owners have in their refrigerators.
Can gerbils eat Italian cheese?
Italian cheese has become one of the most popular cheeses in the United States, and when you think about it, it’s understandable.
On average, Americans consume about over 10 pounds of mozzarella cheese per person per year, which is a lot, and most people have it in their refrigerator most of the time quite naturally.
So the idea of feeding some Italian cheese to gerbils is sure to cross the minds of many gerbil owners, and fortunately, it’s perfectly safe to do so.
Can gerbils eat Swiss cheese?
Swiss cheese is certainly not among the top three most popular cheese varieties in the United States, but its iconic hole (eye) has always been associated with rodents.
Tom & Jerry and other cartoons do not falsely advertise that gerbils can eat Swiss cheese and that it is perfectly safe for them.
There is nothing about Swiss cheese that makes it particularly loved or beloved by gerbils (or other rodents), it happens to be the kind that for some reason is associated with them in movies and cartoons.
What Ways can gerbils eat cheese
The only form of cheese that can be fed to gerbils is fresh and natural, with no added, no added ingredients as it should be.
Simply take a small bite-size of any natural cheese (except blue and processed cheeses) and enjoy your gerbil and good appetite.
You must make sure your gerbil eats the entire block of cheese and then remove the rest.
Gerbils, like hamsters, are also known to hoard food, for example, nuts and seeds, but cheese can turn into a mold colony in no time and can be a ticking time bomb waiting to happen.
That’s why cheese should always be available in small quantities and your gerbils will eat it immediately, the
Can Gerbils Eat Cheese? – How much?
Knowing what you now know about lactose intolerance, you will know that it is variable. It depends on the level of intolerance, which depends on how much lactase the body produces. This can vary from no at all to enough to completely digest dairy products (full tolerance).
Your gerbil may be completely intolerant because it hasn’t had any dairy products since it was weaned. Its intestines may not contain lactase at all. Even a tiny amount of cheese can cause the side effects listed above if this is the case.
However, some cheeses do not have high lactose content. Aged cheeses don’t because the bacteria that form them eat lactose. Lactose turns into lactic acid, which they can digest without any problem.
Even people who are lactose intolerant can eat these specific types of dairy products. For example, quark is a type of cheese that is not aged at all. It is formed by curdling the cheese and draining the whey, then pressing the curds. Because the lactose is in the whey (liquid), this cheese is virtually lactose-free.
Can Gerbils Eat Cheese? – The Conclusion
Cheese is a favorite food for most gerbils, but too much is not suitable for them due to its high-fat content. It is best to give gerbils this food only once a week, and milder varieties are better.
If you feed a gerbil a low-lactose dairy product, it will not experience these problems. But even then, the cheese should only be eaten as a snack because it is not nutritionally correct. Gerbils need more carbohydrates. So, at most, feed your gerbil half a teaspoon of cheese/half the food at a time.
How often should you feed your gerbil cheese?
So, can gerbils eat cheese? Because it is not the healthiest food, you should only feed your pet once a week. You can provide your gerbil with a bit of cheese as a snack and his regular food.
If you feed your gerbil cheese more frequently, it will gain weight. This is because the high fat and protein content of cheese can quickly make your pet heavier. But if you feed cheese only rarely, this should not be a problem.
Ideally, don’t feed your gerbil any dairy products at all. The problem of lactose intolerance, combined with the high-fat content of cheese, means that it is not suitable for gerbils.