Why Do Gerbils Cover Their Food? {Top 5 Reasons Explained}

Is your gerbil covering food in a bowl, dish or in the bedding? Will the food rot and cause health issues? In this article, we’ll look into why gerbils cover their food.

Why Do Gerbils Cover Their Food? The evolutionary instinct to hide, cover or store away food is not forgotten for a gerbil residing in a comfortable cage with plenty to eat. Protecting or saving the food by covering it is more likely if meals are offered in one location instead of scattering them.  

Do Gerbils Hoard Food?

It may seem strange to witness a gerbil with plenty to eat and drink, repeatedly hiding, covering and hoarding their food. Even though the threat of starvation is minimal to none, your gerbil may still continue hoarding snacks.

The covering you may see today is the effort made by your gerbil to save for tomorrow. Hoarding seems to be sign of a gerbil saving for another day.

Why Do Gerbils Hide Their Food?

The instinct is real and definitely present when you see your gerbil burying food. There are further possibilities including the following:

  1. Saving for later
  2. Food is one location
  3. Keep it fresh
  4. Preparation for winter
  5. Protection

1. Saving

You would like to remove any fresh, uneaten food to prevent rotting or an infestation of fruit flies. Unfortunately, your gerbil wants to prevent starving and saves the food by covering or hiding it from you or anyone who wants it.

2. One Location

If your gerbil’s bowl or dish is where meals are located and nowhere else, the likelihood for your gerbil to scatter, cover and hide it increases.

If you scatter the meals, you are letting them explore naturally and find their food in smaller, digestible amounts.

3. Fresh Food

Burying or covering the food helps your gerbil keep its meal fresher than letting it sit out exposed. Your gerbil is doing what you would do with a fridge or pantry when you put away what you aren’t eating.

4. Winter Is Coming

The notion that a gerbil wants to save or cover food for an approaching winter season is as natural as the nuts they like to eat. Winter is around the corner and your gerbil wants to get prepared, even in a gerbilarium or cage.

5. Protection

There could be countless occurrences in the wild where gerbils have gone to war over their protected meals and lost that cache of food. This doesn’t mean they will stop.

Gerbils persevere and go at it again and again. Stopping your gerbil from covering food is like telling it to give up the battle for protection and survival .

Why Do Gerbils Hoard Food?

A gerbil cannot help doing what comes so naturally. In the wild, it’s plain to see and easy to accept observing gerbils hiding or covering food.

There are two types of hoarding behaviors that are common with gerbils. Have you noticed either of the following?

  • Cache 
  • Scatter 

Cache Hoarding

To create a cache of food in one location acts like a pantry or storage facility. The cache can grow to become larger or expand into 2-3 more caches of food. Your gerbil is increasing its odds of survival by covering food in the bedding.

Scatter Hoarding

Scattering works both ways. We can scatter meals to prevent the misuse of bowls when your gerbils hide or cover them in the substrate. Scattering allows your gerbil to hide food in multiple spots.

Both types of hoarding can allow gerbils protection from seasonal changes, migrating predators or pesky neighbors.

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Why Do Gerbils Bury Their Food?

Gerbils originate from desolate locations where food is hard to come by. Grasslands and deserts offer little nutrition for animals that haven’t adapted to it.

We are sure that you enjoy gerbils being themselves in their comfortable home in your home. Sometimes that comes with the extra effort of trying to find the food they’ve hidden.

Gerbils may bury their food as a group in one central location and they will share in their most civilized way. What they find, could easily be eaten by passing creatures of various sizes. What they can’t find, they can’t steal away from gerbils.

Why Gerbils Hide One Food Over Another?

Gerbils would prefer to eat the most fresh and available food right now. Anything that is protein rich, high in fat and easy to store, can be saved, hidden or covered in their bedding.

You will have to search for anything that might rot or stink up the place. Nuts as storage allows for gerbils to get the most nutrition out of a hidden meal.

What would be the point of hiding a piece of a lettuce leaf? A gerbil is distinguishing what is worth hiding or covering.

Why Is My Gerbil Covering The Dish?

A dish or bowl with plenty of food for your gerbil in one location may look like a feast. A gerbil is not going to gorge itself and hibernate. This is simply not the case.

The act of covering the dish turns it into a storage cache for cold winter days ahead or away from potential thieves. The food could end up:

  • in a dish under the bedding
  • scattered
  • hidden in a burrow or tunnel 
  • rotting

We want to avoid any illnesses or fungal intruders in your gerbil’s cage that arrived through rotting food. Scatter food that won’t rot as easily as vegetables.

You can keep serving fresh foods in one location if you wish, but asking your gerbil to stop covering the dish is a tall task.

Should You Scatter Feed Gerbils?

Scatter feeding your gerbil will help reduce the act of covering food. They will see smaller portions of food and the instinct to cover or save it should be reduced.

Foraging is being promoted with scattering. You can decide to use a bowl or dish as well. It doesn’t have to be a choice of one way or another.

Keep fresh food in one area for easy removal in case it’s covered and scatter dry food for a natural touch to feeding routines.

Do Gerbils Stash Food?

Yes. Gerbils are known to continue their natural hoarding and stashing ability in captivity. You can imagine how much food a gerbil can actually save.

Did you think it would be as much as 1.5 kilograms or 3.3 pounds of food covered, hidden and stashed away? Anything that is not as nutritious or rots easily is less likely to be stored.

Thank you for visiting HomePetHelp.com for information regarding gerbils and plenty of other pets that we greatly enjoy caring for. Please check out more articles that may interest you. See you next time!