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How to Care for Gerbils With Broken Teeth

I've been using these methods to care for and feed my gerbils. They work quite well.

Gerbils are popular pets for people of all ages, and they are generally easy and inexpensive to keep. A typical lifespan for domesticated gerbils is two to three years, with some pets living up to four or five years.

As gerbils age, they face various common health issues, one of which is broken teeth. Broken teeth can lead to illness and weight loss in a gerbil without the pet owner’s proper care and attention. If your gerbil suffers from a broken tooth, it is possible to make sure they stay healthy and happy with a little work on your part.

Gerbils’ teeth are regenerative, meaning broken teeth will grow back, usually in about four days. However, until the tooth has grown back, it will be necessary to help your gerbil by preparing a special diet for them.

How to Feed Gerbils With Broken or Missing Teeth

Here are some steps you can follow to grind up food for your gerbil. The goal is to make the food easy to chew and swallow for the gerbil.


Here are the items you’ll need to help prepare your gerbil’s soft food diet:

  • Mortar and pestle
  • Dry gerbil food mix
  • Fresh fruit, such as an apple
  • Baby food
  • Shelled peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds


Here are some steps you can follow to grind up food for your gerbil. The goal is to make the food easy to chew and swallow for the gerbil.

  1. Grind up the gerbil’s normal food: Pour 1 tablespoon of dry gerbil food into the mortar. Next, use the pestle to grind up the dry gerbil food, but make sure not to grind it too small. The ground-up food should be rougher than rough ground coffee in size. It is necessary to leave the ground food in a rough state in order to help the gerbil keep his remaining teeth worn down. Gerbils’ teeth grow continuously, and the teeth need to be worn down to keep them from growing too long.
  2. Mix the ground gerbil food with 1 tablespoon of whole, un-ground gerbil food. Put this mix into your elderly gerbil’s food dish in his cage. Your gerbil will be able to pick and choose the foods they can more easily chew, while leaving whole foods for any companion gerbil.
  3. Fresh fruit or vegetables: Wash, peel and slice a piece of fruit, such as an apple into ½ inch or smaller portions. Serve your elderly gerbil one portion of fruit every other day. Wash and slice carrots and broccoli into ½ inch or smaller portions. Put these foods into your gerbil’s feeding dish, and then put the dish into his cage. Serve one of these fresh foods every other day. Feeding fresh food to your gerbil more often might cause them to develop diarrhea, which can be deadly to gerbils.
  4. Babyfood: Serve your older gerbil sugar-free and fat-free baby foods 1/8th of a teaspoon or less per day; don’t give them more as it could lead them to have diarrhea. Baby food fruits safe for gerbils include puréed apples, bananas, and pears.
  5. Grind up seeds: Pour in one peanut, 2 to 3 each of sunflower and pumpkin seeds into the mortar and pestle. Grind this mixture into a rough grain size, leaving the ground mix a little bigger than rough ground coffee. Feed this mixture to your elderly gerbil every other day as a treat. This will help your gerbil to have some familiar treats he's used to, while also adding a little variety to his diet.


  • Give your elderly gerbil only one portion of fresh fruits or vegetables every other day. If given every day your gerbil could develop diarrhea which can be deadly.
  • Wash the fresh fruits and vegetables before feeding them to your gerbils. It’s important to wash all fresh fruits and vegetables in order to avoid transmitting harmful bacteria and chemicals to your gerbils.
  • If you don’t have a mortar and pestle to grind dry gerbil food, use a rolling pin, meat hammer, or a heavy glass jar. Put the dry gerbil food in between two layers of wax paper, and use the rolling pin, hammer or heavy glass jar to crush the food.
  • Be sure to remove all uneaten fresh food from your gerbils’ cage every day in order to avoid food rotting in the cage or bedding.
  • My gerbil’s broken teeth did grow back, and he was able to eat normal food again. Once you notice your gerbil is able to crack open a seed, it’s time to go back to your gerbil’s normal diet.


I'm currently using this method of feeding our three-year-old gerbil, Kat'a. She lost her upper teeth due to age. We have to clip her lower teeth about every six weeks.

Kat'a's been on this soft and ground diet for about three 5 months and is doing great! She's active on her wheel, and she enjoys running up and down her tower cage (actually a ferret or chinchilla cage).

Gerbils do like to have fresh food in their dishes every day. We give Kat'a about 1 tablespoon of fresh-ground food each day, along with 1/8th of a teaspoon of baby food fruit and 1/8th of a teaspoon of fresh peanut butter. This keeps her interested in her food and helps keep her appetite up. It's important to change the water in her water bottles every day, too.

My Experience

I am not a professional gerbil breeder, but I have experience with keeping pets of all kinds, including gerbils. One of my older gerbils did develop a broken tooth, and my veterinarian gave me the advice presented in this article.

This information is provided only as an aid and guide to possible solutions to help a pet gerbil. I have made every effort to provide reliable and helpful information.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2011 Sherry Vacik