If you’ve decided to bring home a new gerbil for yourself or your kids, you’ll probably want to know you are getting all of your information right. The essential supplies to get started might be a little bit pricey upfront, but there are options, and we have lots of tips to get you started.
Here we rounded up 9 of the best supplies you will need when owning a gerbil.
Top 9 Essential Gerbil Supplies
1. Small Rodent Cage or Gerbilarium
Types of Cages:
Having a secure enclosure is the most essential part when you own a gerbil. They absolutely require a well-secured cage that is totally safe and of the correct size. If you are getting your gerbil as a baby, they might look tiny, but don’t mistake this for not needing space. Gerbils need adequate space, so please consider that.
The best rule of thumb is to provide at least 10 gallons of space per gerbil. We’re going to get into the following number explaining why you need more than one gerbil, but for now, we’re just going to consider a single gerbil in this situation.
What to Look for In a Gerbil Cage
If you have more than one gerbil, a 20-gallon aquarium and up would be more than sufficient. You can choose from many different cage stylings, but most commonly, you’re going to see wire cages, some with and without plastic bases and add-ons.
There are various cage choices, but space measurements are an essential part of finding a cage. You’ll need the cage bars to be very close together to keep your little gerbil inside.
You would be absolutely astonished what mice and gerbils can squeeze their bodies through due to their ability to wiggle and flatten their bodies. We’ll go ahead and say that the closer you can get together without completely being a solid space is better.
What Type of Cage Should You Buy?
Glass aquariums are commonly used for gerbils. Because rodents are so susceptible to upper respiratory infections, glass can trap a lot of moisture, and it’s easier for your gerbil to get infected. Look for a combination of glass and ventilation.
A wire cage provides adequate ventilation, ensuring your gerbil has access to fresh air at all times. Almost all cages will have an open spot at some point, so keep the cage away from any drafts. A draft can easily infiltrate the cage, even if you choose glass, increasing the chances of your gerbil getting sick.
Plastic cages are insufficient because they are too easy to chew through. So, even though specific enclosures are geared toward gerbils, colorful plastic cages should be overlooked in most cases.
Gerbils love to dig so ensure the cage will allow for sufficient depth of bedding for tunneling and digging.
2. Another Gerbil
If you are thinking about getting a gerbil, don’t stop there. Gerbils are very social creatures and will get extremely lonely without a friend. Even though they will absolutely adore your company, they need to have a buddy around that’s their own species. Make sure you have at least two at a time.
Gerbils can reproduce quickly and early! It’s recommended to have between two and four gerbils at a time. Only you can decide how many you adequately have time to love and care for. You should always get gerbils of the same sex to avoid accidental litters.
By seven weeks, you can see if a gerbil is male or female. So, as long as you get gerbils after this threshold, you’ll be much less likely to have a surprise litter.
You’ll have to monitor the situation if aggression starts because of a developing hierarchy. Some gerbils can be real bullies to those they consider inferior.
Choosing the right bedding can be a little bit challenging. You’re going to read many conflicting reviews online about the safety of certain products and all that jazz. We’re here to clean it up a little bit for you and smooth out the edges. Regarding pet bedding, there are a couple of aspects you have to consider here.
Bedding should be provided to a depth of around 8 to 12 inches to allow for digging.
You have many choices when it comes to finding excellent bedding that will work. We’re not going to recommend any particular bedding as we feel like that is completely up to the owner and what you think is best. You might even try out a few different kinds before figuring out which one suits your needs.
However, the most common beddings include:
Recycled paper bedding is an excellent idea because it is environmentally friendly and absorbent. You can have a guilt-free experience by purchasing these products, which tend to last a little longer than some other beddings.
Pellet bedding is a very absorbent type of bedding that is usually made from recycled paper as well. Although, it can be made from other paper products. They are very porous, with the pellets swelling when they soak in the moisture.
Rough grain wood chips and hay
This provides some structure to the tunnels that they create.
4. Bottles and Bowls
Your gerbil must have a freshwater source at all points in time. Water is absolutely essential for them to thrive, but they do have trouble drinking out of dishes. To combat this, there are tons of rodent water bottles on the market.
Many cages come with a water bottle and tax, but you can also purchase them as a standalone product if you’re unsatisfied with the size or make of the water bottle that you currently have. Bowls are also important. You might watch your gerbils grab things out of the bowl and take them to a corner to eat them.
It’s still important to have the bowl as it contains the food and allows your gerbil to come and go as they please without contaminating the entire cage with food.
If there’s one thing you quickly learn about your gerbil, it is that they love to be on the go go go. You’ll find that they will love to explore and go on adventures. They can also be quite slippery and get away with ease.
So always ensure safe exercise items on hand that won’t result in losing your gerbil. Exercise balls are great, but you should confirm the structure is entirely sound, so the top doesn’t fall off and allow your gerbil to run away.
Exercise wheels let your gerbil stretch their legs in an enclosed space. Some might absolutely love their wheel, going crazy night and day. Others might show less interest.
Some gerbils will get super excited to get out and explore in an exercise ball. But some gerbils might be anxious and even scared to get inside of one of these devices. Also, some gerbils won’t seem to grasp the concept as quickly as others—so this toy will only be a favorite among certain ones.
Ramps and tunnels will keep your little gerbil’s body moving and their brains ticking. These little mazes and obstacle courses will keep them busy for hours!
6. Proper Diet
Your gerbil is an omnivore, meaning that they need a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and proteins to keep them their healthiest. You should get your gerbil a standard base of commercial gerbil-specific pellets.
As with most small animals, gerbils will pick and choose what they want to eat. If junk food is available, that will be their first go-to. To prevent them from cherry picking meals, it’s crucial to have blended pellets over mixed ingredients.
In the wild, gerbils spend most of their day hoarding food they find. To encourage natural behavior, you can try to put food in random parts of the cage—or even create a scavenger hunt for them. This game can really get their brain going.
Not only will this motivate your gerbil to explore, but it will also stimulate their mind. You might even have a good time watching your gerbils sniff out the food pieces and stash them in a hoarding spot of their choice.
7. Chew Toys
Your gerbil has teeth called incisors in the front. These teeth never stop growing all of their lives. To file them down to a suitable size, gerbils have to chew on hard surfaces to reduce their growth. Think of it as sort of like having fingernails.
Your fingernails are ever-growing, and you must clip them to keep them at a comfy length. Incisors are the same concept.
As much as it’s been commonplace in pet shops, dyed wood is not a good thing for your gerbil to chew on. It contains lots of artificial dyes that are totally unnecessary and non-beneficial. But you can still find more natural options amongst them.
If you get anything out of nature, wash it and make sure it’s safe for your little one to chew.
In the wild, gerbils have a lot of natural predators. It is an instinct for them to want to run and hide. A safe spot in their enclosure that is secluded where they feel unseen is crucial to their happiness.
They will want to run to a place where they have cover and can relax without worrying about their environment. There are so many options for little huts and houses. You can create your own out of popsicle sticks or come up with another fascinating DIY on Pinterest.
You can also buy premade selections or give your gerbil lots of materials and let them build their own nest. This option is generally cost-free, as you can use gerbil-safe items around your house.
9. Sand Bath
As a desert species gerbils clean themselves by rolling around in sand. Gerbils should have access to a sand bath on a weekly basis.
Routine Gerbil Care
|Scientific Name:||Meriones unguiculatus|
|Colors:||White, blue, lilac, gray|
If you’ve never owned a gerbil before, you may wonder what you can expect in terms of personality. Like any other animal, every single gerbil has its own unique personality, but there are some overlapping similarities in the species.
Gerbils are extremely social, counting on companion cage mates to get them through the day. They will enjoy interacting with humans, permitting they’re treated kindly and with patience.
The diet you choose for your gerbil is up to you, but you need to ensure they have access to the right amount of nutrients. You should feed your gerbil at least once a day. If there is a competition for food, you might have to split some of them up at mealtime to ensure that they get adequate daily nutrition.
Your gerbils need to be fed a base of hay and commercial pellets, but they also benefit from having fresh foods like scrambled eggs, fruits, and vegetables on occasion.
- You might also like: How Long Can Gerbils Go Without Food and Water?
Gerbils don’t go to the bathroom a lot as they are a desert dwelling species. You’ll have to spot clean their cage, preferably once a day, which can increase depending on the number of gerbils you have. Frequency might increase if you have as many gerbils, as the cage will get dirtier fast. It would help if you change the bedding once a week to remove any urine-soaked areas and reduce the smell. A complete bedding change is usually needed every 3 to 4 weeks.
Gerbils spend much of their day grooming themselves. Although they pee where they sleep, they are clean critters that keep up with hygiene. If you have more than one gerbil, they will spend much of their bonding time grooming each other. They will also need a weekly sand bath.
Just like any other animal, your gerbils need to build trust with you. Even though they will like adventuring and being inquisitive, they will tolerate—and even enjoy—being handled. Always make sure to wash your hands before and after handling to stop the spread of germs.
We’ve already gone over how vital exercise is for your gerbils—but we want to stress it completely! It is such a big deal that gerbils get appropriate exercise since their bodies are designed to go, go, go!
On average, gerbils should exercise at least an hour three times a week to promote a healthy lifestyle and prevent obesity.
Also, keep in mind that gerbils love having a place to exercise and one to relax and hide away. Make sure you have all the resources they need to get the attention they deserve.
Featured Image Credit: Sildf, Shutterstock