Gerbils

Caring for your Gerbil

Just because they’re small, don’t go thinking that you can give gerbils any less care, commitment and love than you’d give to a bigger pet. Gerbils (Latin name – Meriones unguiculatus) make great pets, especially for children. They’re friendly, inquisitive and generally very happy to be handled; they very rarely bit.

Quick Tip

Gerbils require company from other gerbils. It's better to keep two or three of the same sex littermates together. Introducing gerbils who are older than 10 weeks means that they are more than likely to fight.

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Unlike hamsters, who perk up when the lights go down, gerbils are active throughout the day.  Just like you.  And when we say active, they’re very, very fast.  So when you’re handling your pets, always make sure it’s in a safe contained area.

An ordinary pet cage just won’t do for gerbils.  No, what any self-respecting gerbil needs is a gerbilarium – there are many kinds available from pet shops in the high street or online.

A gerbilarium is a wire cage on top of a tank filled with natural wood shavings which takes account of your gerbil’s natural instinct for burrowing.  It’s very digging-friendly.

These cages are usually durable, lightweight and relatively cheap.  But there are three points to watch out for:

  • A shallow base makes it easy for your gerbils to kick wood shavings out – its messy, and deeper is better.
  • Double-check that the door fastening is secure before you buy – a pushy gerbil will soon be free,
  • These cages aren’t draught-proof, so careful siting is required.

Did you know?

Gerbils are expert diggers, so make sure they have plenty of areas where they can hide away if they wish.

Did you know?

Gerbils often sleep on top of each other whilst unconsciously grooming each other.

Another welcome addition is somewhere to have a bath.  A dust or sand bath, not the shampoo and fluffy towel kind.  Make a special corner in the cage for this.  No need for curtains, gerbils aren’t shy.  Put some fine, dry absorbent sand available from specialist retailers into a bowl or box.  They’ll love it.  And it helps to keep their coat in good condition by removing excess oils and encouraging grooming.

Gerbils are very clean animals, so you don’t need to clean out the accommodation very often.  But hygiene is still important, so give it a through clean once a week with a pet safe disinfectant.  And replace the tank contents every two weeks.

To keep the gerbilarium comfortable, try to maintain a constant temperature.  That means keeping it away from radiators and draughts.  And avoid direct sunlight at all costs – gerbils can suffer from heat-stroke.

Quick Tip

You should offer your gerbil a choice of different toys over a period of time. This will keep your gerbil stimulated and will prevent them from getting bored.

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Have a question?

If you have a question, please email us or call us on 0800 413 969. Our dedicated consumer care team are available to answer any questions you may have. If you are concerned about the immediate health of your pet, please seek the advice of your vet as soon as possible.

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