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A suitable environment for gerbils

Environment logo © RSPCA publications and brand 2010

 

Ensure your gerbils have a suitable place to live

 

View of gerbilarium©Joe Murphy RSPCA

Gerbils need:

  • A comfortable, dry, draught-free, clean place to live, in a quiet place where they can rest undisturbed. Make sure they are not exposed to draughty or damp conditions but also do not keep them in direct sunlight or next to a radiator. An ideal temperature range is 20-24°C. 
     
  • A gerbilarium large enough to provide shelter, opportunities to dig and space to exercise, with adequate bedding and nesting material. Wild gerbils live in dry climates, in large, deep burrows that they dig themselves to protect them from extremes of weather and from predators. Gerbils have fur on the soles of their feet and so do not climb well. Gerbil housing advice (PDF 101 KB)
     
  • Gerbils naturally build nests. Don't give them nesting materials that separate into thin strands, e.g. cotton wool or similar 'fluffy' bedding products. They pose a serious risk to their health and welfare, due to the possibility of entanglement or ingestion.
     
  • Housing away from items in the home which can generate ultrasound, such as television sets, computer screens, vacuum cleaners or sources of running water. Gerbils communicate using ultrasonic frequencies so are sensitive to some sounds that we cannot hear. 
     
  • Their gerbilarium to be kept clean. Do not allow the bedding material to become damp or smelly. Clean once a week or fortnight as required. Gerbils excrete small amounts of highly concentrated urine and dry droppings. 
     
  • A small amount of used but unsoiled bedding and nesting material transferred when you clean out your gerbilarium as cleaning can be stressful and removing all odours may trigger fighting. Gerbils have an acute sense of smell. 
     
  • A rough-surfaced object such as a stone to help wear down claws and give further structure to 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.