Gerbils are frisky and fun, making them a great pet for a pet owner who wants plenty of amusement. These social creatures like to live with other gerbils, so getting at least two to keep in a cage together is a great idea. Be careful to select two males or two females, otherwise a male and a female caged together will no doubt give you plenty of gerbil babies.
This pet does best in a wire cage or aquarium style cage with a wire cover that is in a fairly low-traffic area of your home out of the direct sun. Cages should be lined with bedding that can range from paper-based bedding to timothy hay or aspen shavings. Don’t line the cage with pine or cedar shavings, as these can be dangerous to your gerbil. An extra tip is to put extra bedding or hay in the cage for the gerbil to dig in, and a piece of PVC pipe or a cardboard tube for it to tunnel through.
Gerbils are naturally playful and inquisitive creatures, so toys in the cage are a must. Hard toys that cannot easily be destroyed work best. Gerbils are chewers, so have plenty of items in their cage that are hard to chew on is best. A gerbil’s teeth are also continuously growing, so not only is chewing fun for them, it’s also good for keeping their teeth healthy and manageable. A stone or little perch to stand on will give the gerbil a lookout spot. Also be sure to make a comfortable spot in the cage for the gerbil or gerbils to sleep. This could be a little hide out that you purchase from a pet store or a small box that you may already have at home.
If you can’t obtain an exercise wheel that will fit in your gerbil’s cage, it’s a good idea to have an area of your house where your gerbil can run around and get some exercise each day. Start by getting your gerbil used to being held and picked up when you bring them home. This will help your gerbil develop a bond with you and make it easier for handling later in life. Once your gerbil is used to you, you can lift them out of their cage and let them roam a sectioned off area. Places that work best for this type of activity are bathrooms, kitchens and hallways. Be sure to gerbil-proof the area by removing anything that could injure the gerbil, and also secure the area so that the gerbil cannot escape.
A gerbil’s diet consists of a gerbil seed mix and small amounts of fresh vegetables. Gerbil seed mix contains pellets, seeds, dried vegetables and grains. Gerbil seek mix will meet all of your gerbil’s dietary needs, but you can also give them a very small amount of fresh vegetables each day. Gerbils can have carrots, romaine lettuce, endive, spinach, broccoli and fruits like apples and bananas.
Monitor your gerbil as they try new fruits and vegetables to see if they have any adverse reactions, and scale back on fruits and veggies if they seem to develop diarrhea or stop eating their seed mix. Fresh water should always be available to your gerbil as well, so be sure to have an inverted water bottle that is constantly filled with fresh water.
Because gerbils urinate and defecate in their crate, it’s important to clean the bedding at least once a week. If you can, check daily for droppings and uneaten food in the cage and remove any waste to reduce smell and the spreading of sickness. When washing the cage, use a mild soap and be sure that everything is dry before placing your gerbils back in the cage.