Water & Accessories

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Water

In the wild, gerbils can go for long periods without water. They get water from the seeds and grains it consumes (metabolic water), buried tubers, the green parts of plants, and from the licking of morning dew.

In captivity, clean, fresh water should be available at all times, and this can be supplemented once a week from the moisture it gets from a small portion of fruit or vegetable.

Storage of food

The best way to store the food is in seal easy plastic bags. These can be sucked to remove any air then frozen for several days before use. This will effectively kill off any bugs or mites that maybe hiding in the mix. It is always best to store food in a dark, cool dry place, as light and heat destroys vitamins. Also seeds themselves act like a desiccant (they effectively absorb water out of the atmosphere) so should always be stored in a dry area.

Feeding bowls

Here you have two choices, either place their food in a feed bowl, or scatter it around their tank. However both can have drawbacks. Often a bowl is useless unless kept on an elevated level (make sure the bowl is heavy enough to stop the gerbils knocking it over the ledge onto gerbils below) Gerbils often dig into the bowl to find their favourite food and the rest is scattered anyway. Even so, for beginning keepers this is probably the best option, it's advantage being, you can see what they are eating, or if the bowl is hardly being touched, it could indicate that your gerbil may have a problem that is preventing it eating its food. Scattering food has many advantages. Research has proved that gerbils enjoy foraging for food as this replicates their activities in the wild, and they mimic this in captivity. They effectively eat better when it's scattered over the bedding or hidden around the tank. The drawback here is knowing when they have eaten all their food, so it has to be carefully measured out and calculated when it's expected to run out. Experience here is necessary to get this right. Also it's wise to have another food source such as lab blocks present, so running out of food doesn't become a problem.

Article by Eddie Cope

Revised Edition 2008

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