Can Gerbils Drink Milk? (Why is Milk Bad For Gerbils?)

Can Gerbils Drink Milk? Gerbils are small rodents that are native to Asia. They are popular as pets due to their playful nature, sociable temperament, and cute appearance. However, gerbils have been considered as pests because of their destructive behavior, chewing, burrowing, and gnawing on objects.

If you want to keep your gerbil happy and healthy, it is important to provide them with enough nutrition, which includes good nutrition in the form of freshwater, food, and shelter. In addition, it is necessary to provide them with a suitable environment that is free of allergens, predators, and parasites.

However, some gerbil owners tend to overdo their diet and wonder whether gerbils can drink milk or not. In short, gerbils do need to be fed their mother’s milk while growing up.

Can Gerbils Drink Milk?

Can Gerbils Drink Milk? No, Milk is not good for them because gerbils cannot digest them.

What is the nutritional value of milk?

All baby mammals need milk to grow and develop during the infant stages of their lives. This is mainly because milk is an exceptionally calorically dense and nutrient-rich drink. It contains all the following nutrients.

However, different types of milk contain different proportions of these nutrients:

  • Proteins (casein dominated)
  • Fats (both saturated and unsaturated fats)
  • Vitamins including Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C
  • Carbohydrates, including a sugar (lactose)
  • Minerals, including zinc, iron and calcium

Different female mammals produce milk that contains varying proportions of all these nutrients. This is because mammals have specific nutritional requirements which differ from mammal to mammal.

As a result, female mammals produce milk which contain all the right amounts of nutrients for their specific body requirements. For instance, female humans produce milk that has more carbohydrates and less protein as compared to cow’s milk.

Can Gerbils Drink Milk

Similarly, gerbils require different quantities of nutrients in the milk they drink. As a result, feeding cow milk or any other type of milk to a gerbil is not a good idea. This is because gerbils aren’t naturally functioned to digest milk that is intended for hoofed herbivores.

The only milk a gerbil can have is from a female gerbil who have birth to it. As a result, if a gerbil loses its mother upon birth, you must only feed it Kitten Milk Replacer (KMR) only. KMR is similar to cat milk, however, it has all the right nutrients that a gerbil requires.

On the other hand, adult gerbils can fulfill all of their nutrient requirements from solid food. As a result, you don’t really have to feed them any kind of milk.

Is it safe to give my gerbil milk?

Can Gerbils Drink Milk

As mentioned earlier, milk is only suitable for newborn gerbils. Even in their cases, it is only safe to give them gerbil milk from their mother. The milk feeding period lasts till about the age of five after which the gerbil becomes an adult.

Now this is where it gets tricky. Adult gerbils are lactose intolerant. As a result, they cannot digest any kind of milk. However, most people aren’t aware of this and end up feeding their gerbils cow or other type of milk. The adult gerbil is unable to digest this milk which makes their stomach upset.

Some common symptoms of digestive upset in an adult gerbil include diarrhea, weight loss and pain. Moreover, you should also avoid feeding any kind of product to your gerbil that has high lactose quantities. Products such as cheese which have low lactose are acceptable food for gerbils. But make sure your pet gerbil is liking it before adding it to their daily diet.

Are other milk products safe for gerbil?

Milk is generally not considered a good food source for gerbils. Similarly, any milk-based product is equally bad for a gerbil. Ingesting milk-based products that have high lactose quantities will cause pain and chronic diarrhea to the animal.

In some cases, the undigested milk also reduces the flexibility of the stomach leading to other digestive conditions and problems. As a result, avoid feeding milk or any milk-based product to your gerbil. Unless it is specifically mentioned that the quantities of lactose in the product are lowered.

Why is milk bad for gerbils?

Gerbil’s lack lactose. This makes it difficult for them to handle the lactose that is in the milk. As a result, if gerbils drink milk, it becomes a problem for their digestive systems. Some gerbil owners believe that skimmed milk is a good alternate. However, I still wouldn’t recommend it because there are other better food sources for gerbils.

What to do if my gerbil ends up drinking too much milk?

It is imperative that you keep your gerbil away from any milk or milk products. In an unfortunate instance if the gerbil has somehow ended up drinking too much milk, there are some vital things that you must do.

  • Stop it from consuming more milk before the overdose happens.
  • Immediately call your vet so they know what to expect when you arrive at the clinic with your sick gerbil
  • Take the gerbil to the vet as soon as possible.
  • Let the vet treat the gerbil. It is usually done by washing their stomach and medicating them to get rid of all the undigested milk.

Conclusion – Can Gerbils Drink Milk?

To conclude, I would recommend all gerbil owners to raise awareness so that everyone knows why gerbils can’t drink milk. It is a misconception if anyone believes that they can drink it.

I know it’s tempting to treat a gerbil like your baby, but it’s actually not a human baby. As a result, fight your urge to continue feeding them milk and get them what will really keep them healthy. It’s your adopted baby afterall!

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