Can Rats Eat Gerbil Food?

Can Rats Eat Gerbil Food?

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Rats will eat almost anything you give them. Rats may eat a wide range of food types because they are omnivores. Can rats eat gerbil food? Is gerbil food safe for the pet rat?

Gerbils are also omnivores who enjoy a wide range of seeds, vegetables, fruits, and insects. They receive the nutrition they need to thrive from commercial pellet combinations. 

A proper choice of natural products can serve as a delightful treat, a nutritious replacement for store-bought mixtures, or an addition to their regular diet. 

Gerbils are energetic pets that enjoy chewing and foraging. Having a range of food alternatives available to them nearby their cage helps to keep them occupied and make their mealtime turn into a game of foraging. 

Even though rats and gerbils are omnivores, gerbil food does not contain all the nutrients that can meet the required nutritional needs rats need to be healthy. 

In this article, we'll be discussing the food for a gerbil, and if they are safe for the pet rat.

Can Rats Eat Gerbil Food?

Yes, rats can eat gerbil food formulated especially for gerbils. Rats can eat just about everything, but they should not solely depend on gerbil food. Eating gerbil food alone would prevent rats from getting the nourishment they need to stay healthy. Therefore, moderation is key when giving the pet rat gerbil food. Gerbils and rats are omnivores so they have a much more similar nutritional profile than other rodents.


Is Gerbil Safe for Rats?

Fortunately, gerbil food is safe for the pet rat. However, the best food for the pet rat is one formulated specifically for rats. 

Gerbil food is identical to hamster food. There are numerous nuts, seeds, and other vegetables in them. 

Rats can also consume these foods, but they can only do so in moderation. Rats are needed to consume a particular diet formulated just for rats. 

For example, rats require a lot of protein. They need a mixture of seeds and pellets. Pellets are good for rats because they have all the nutrients that rats might need to thrive and grow. 

Rats can eat foods made for other rodents like gerbils. However, the primary issue with other rodents’ food is that it won’t be nourishing enough for the pet rat.

Rats need a certain food, just as a gerbil needs a different particular diet. Each rodent has a different nutritional profile and dietary needs. 

Can Gerbils and Rats Live Together?

Rats and gerbils cannot live together. You would assume that since rats and gerbils are social animals, living together should not be an issue but this is not true. 

Despite their similarities, rats and gerbils are of different species. They can’t coexist because they will argue. They cannot play together either, i.e., in the same cage. 

You can keep them together in the same home as long as they cannot smell one another. 

A rodent like a gerbil may be viewed as prey rather than a friend if kept in the same cage as a rat. The rat will not think highly of them. 

It would be far better if they were kept apart in separate cages instead of putting both species in the same cage. Doing this will help prevent the chance of the two species coming into conflict with one another. 

They would contend with one another for resources like food, water, and territory. Both rodents are territorial animals and would mark their territory. Gerbils use the smell gland on their bellies to do this while rats use urine for theirs. Both are fighting for resources and space. 

They would both be wary of one another if you keep them in the same cage until one of them takes control of the other. 

The dominating one would then intimidate the subordinate. Additionally, you might see indications of fear, such as foot drumming. 

According to ASA, gerbils' foot drum and make loud warning sounds when frightened. 

Therefore, they can be kept in the same space, but they cannot live together in the same cage. 

Also, make sure to routinely clean each of your pet’s cages to prevent the development of any stench. Otherwise, they can start to smell one another and get upset.

Can Gerbils and Rats Eat the Same Food?

Gerbils and rats cannot eat the same food. However, their nutritional needs are essentially identical. They can eat similar foods together. 

The two wild species have different dietary requirements because of where they once resided in many parts of the world. 

Wild Mongolian gerbils can be found in the steppe, a desert-like region, and the gerbil’s diet was shaped by this over time. 

They mostly consume leaves, seeds, grains, and vegetable roots in the wild. Because there isn’t much water available, they don’t drink much of it; instead, they acquire the majority of their water from root vegetables. 

Rats are famous omnivores. They consume anything they can, including farmland grains and food scraps from cities. They can eat anything, including berries, nuts, and seeds, in the wild. 

Even though their meals in the wild differ, both pets need equivalent amounts of nutrients. 

The majority of the energy in a gerbil’s diet must come from carbohydrates. Only 5% of their diet should be fat, and roughly 15% should be protein. 

The nutritional requirements of rats are almost the same. The only downside is that gerbils have certain needs. 

The NAP states that gerbils must have magnesium in their diets to maintain healthy brain function. They require different vitamins and minerals even if they need equivalent macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates). 


What Can Rats Eat That Will Kill Them?

Even though rats can eat almost all human food, there are a small number of foods that are toxic to rats. Some of these foods are:

  • Blue cheese
  • Poppy seeds
  • Bitter almonds
  • Licorice
  • Green potatoes
  • Raw red cabbage
  • Seaweed
  • Mango
  • Raw beans
  • Spoilt foods
  • Rhubarb leaves and stems
  • Peanut butter
  • Fluorinated/chlorinated water
  • Excess fatty foods & meat

Best Foods to Feed a Pet Rat

Rats are intelligent creatures, so giving them a wide choice of meals can assist to improve their surroundings. 

Rats should be given a combination of ad-lib fresh fruits and vegetables, and small amounts of high-quality rat pellets or rat cubes (make sure they have a protein level of at least 16% and a fat content of 4 – 5%).

Some examples of the appropriate fruits and vegetables to feed a pet rat are:

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Bananas
  • Melons
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage (not red cabbage)
  • Celery
  • Parsley
  • Berries
  • Bok choy/other Asian greens

Avoid giving rats a mixture of seeds/grains since they may contain too much sugar and fat. In these mixtures, rats are highly vulnerable to developing obesity and malnutrition. They often 'choose' their preferred components from the mixture, missing out on vital nutrients. 

Breakfast cereals, grains, seeds, cookies, bread, sweets, cooked pasta, and rice, should all be regarded as treats and served in small portions. 

Always have clean, fresh water available for rats. Any dietary adjustments should be made gradually to prevent gastrointestinal issues.

Bottom Line

Pet rats can eat gerbil food. However, it is not advisable. A rat may be given gerbil food as an occasional treat, but its main diet should consist of foods that are nutritionally advantageous to rats.

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