Gerbil Care Guide

Here is Banfield's quick-tip guide to helping you meet your gerbil’s home, diet, exercise, and grooming needs.

How Should I House My Gerbil?

Appropriate ventilation is a must for any proper gerbil’s home. A terrarium with a wire mesh top is a good choice, but metal wire cages with plastic bottoms are also fine. If you want your gerbil to have a bit more room, you may also choose to attach a connectable cage to your pet’s new home, allowing him or her to burrow between compartments. Aside from being adorable, this burrowing from place to place also mimics your gerbil’s natural habitat and may help make your pet feel more at home.

Your gerbil’s cage should be filled with a thick layer of bedding, kept both dry and deep enough to allow burrowing. Shredded white paper and aspen wood shavings make great beddings, but be sure to avoid shredded newspaper, pine, and cedar shavings, as they are toxic to gerbils.

What Should I Feed My Gerbil?

Establishing an eating routine early will help make your gerbil more comfortable in a new environment, so try to feed every day at the same time. Be sure also to keep plenty of fresh water in a bottle in your gerbil’s cage at all times, checking daily to make sure your pet is able to remain properly hydrated – especially after any strenuous exercising.

The majority of your gerbil’s diet should consist of high-quality, pre-packaged gerbil pellets, which contain a mix of vitamins and minerals calculated specifically to meet the needs of gerbils. You can supplement this diet with some fresh fruit and vegetables to keep it interesting and provide a vitamin boosts – just don’t overdo it! Small pets like gerbils are especially prone to becoming overweight, so if you notice your pet starts to act sluggish or odd, consult with your local veterinarian to get your pet’s weight back under control.

What Kind & How Much Exercise Does My Gerbil Require?

Providing ample opportunity to burrow and dig is an important method of keeping your gerbil fit and cheery. The iconic running wheel is a great option to satisfy your gerbil’s instinctual desire to run, and they are designed to easily fit in the limited space of a gerbil’s cage.

Another way to help keep your gerbil healthy is by providing ample opportunity to burrow and dig. Ladders, tubes, thick bedding, and hideaway areas each offer fun opportunities to scratch your gerbil’s natural itch to rummage, run, and burrow about.

A clear exercise ball is another fun option, allowing your energetic new pet to run freely about the house or yard and explore as he or she pleases. As delightful it may be, it is also imperative that you keep a close eye on your gerbil while using the exercise ball. Be sure to limit your pet’s use, as extended time running in the hot, often poorly ventilated inner chamber of the ball can severely dehydrate your gerbil. Limit play sessions to chunks of a few minutes at a time, and make it a priority to offer water to your gerbil as often as possible to keep them running safely well into the future.

Does My Gerbil Require Grooming?

Gerbils are naturally good self-groomers, so your responsibility to groom is fairly minimal. The largest concern for your gerbil will be keeping his or her nails trim if they start growing too long, so check periodically and trim as necessary.

A nice treat may be to provide your gerbil with a dust bath, which these little desert creatures love. Simply put sawdust, or any similar dust bath product, into a bowl, place it into your gerbil’s cage, and your pet should do the rest!

One final grooming concern with many small, burrowing pets like gerbils is with their teeth. A gerbil’s teeth grow constantly from the day of birth, so gnawing material is essential in keeping your new pet’s teeth from growing too long. A few options for keeping your gerbil’s mouth well-occupied and well-groomed include:

  • Unpainted, Untreated Wood Chips
  • Hay
  • Fruit-Flavored Chew Toys
  • Twigs
  • Scrapped Cardboard
 

Need More Information?

If you have any more questions about the care of your gerbil, feel free to consult your local veterinarian, search through our Preventive Care and Ask a Vet libraries, or explore some of the related links below: