Creating a good home for gerbils
Every gerbil deserves a good home where they can be healthy and happy. Here are our top tips for creating a great home for your pet gerbils.
Wild gerbils live in dry climates, in large, deep burrows that they dig to protect themselves from extremes of weather and from predators. Gerbils have fur on the soles of their feet and so don't climb well.
Your gerbils' housing needs:
- Enough space - the gerbilarium should be large enough to provide shelter, opportunities to dig and space to exercise.
- Nesting and bedding materials - gerbils naturally build nests. Giving them a mix of rough-grained woodchips and hay will provide structure to their burrows and give them something to gnaw too. Don't give them nesting materials that separate into thin strands, such as cotton wool or similar 'fluffy' bedding products, as they can become tangled in them and can't eat them.
- A rough-surfaced object, such as a stone, to help wear down their claws and give further structure to their burrows. These also provide suitable places for scent-marking. Gerbils' claws need to be worn down through regular digging or walking on rough surfaces, or they may grow too long.
Keeping your gerbils' home comfortable
Make sure your gerbils' home (and anywhere else they're left) is always comfortable for them by remembering to make sure it's:
- Comfortable, dry and draught-free - make sure they're not exposed to draughty or damp conditions, but also don't keep them in direct sunlight or next to a radiator.
- The right temperature - an ideal temperature range is 20-24°C.
- Quiet - gerbils communicate using ultrasonic frequencies, so they're sensitive to some sounds that we can't hear. Keep your gerbils' home away from things that can generate ultrasound, such as televisions, computer screens, vacuum cleaners or sources of running water.
- Cleaned regularly - clean their gerbilarium once a week or fortnight as required, and don't allow the bedding material to become damp or smelly. Gerbils excrete small amounts of highly concentrated urine and dry droppings.
- Familiar-smelling - gerbils have an acute sense of smell, so cleaning can be stressful for them and removing all odours may trigger fighting. Keep and reuse a small amount of used but unsoiled bedding and nesting material when you clean out your gerbilarium.
Follow the links below to find out more about caring for your gerbils.