As a responsible pet owner, it is your duty to take proper care of any pet you keep. This means you should have a full understanding of the care needs of a pet before welcoming it into your home. The needs of each pet are different, and this is something you should research before committing to caring for that pet. If you are thinking of keeping gerbils, this care guide tells you all you need to know about caring for your pet gerbils.
Preparing the Environment
One of the first things you need to think about is where in your home you will keep your gerbils. When choosing the best area of your home, the following three factors are things you will need to consider.
- Space- Think about how large the habitat is and where it will best fit in your home.
- Noise- Gerbils can easily become stressed by living in noisy areas. Therefore, you should think carefully about where they will live as it is best to keep them in quieter areas of your home.
- Temperature- Gerbils are most comfortable living in an environment with a temperature between 65 and 75-degrees Fahrenheit. Keep them away from direct sunlight and areas where there is a draught.
Buying the Habitat
The main piece of equipment you need for your gerbils is a habitat. There are plenty of options available to suit all budgets. It is important to compare all the options to find a habitat that is right for your home and will give your gerbils a comfortable space to live.
Many people mistakenly believe that gerbils simply need the same type of cage as hamsters or mice. However, this is not necessarily the case because Gerbils need a deeper habitat as they like to burrow. They need a deeper layer of bedding to accommodate this activity. For this reason, many gerbil owners opt for an aquarium-style habitat for their gerbils as it is well suited to the deeper bedding and burrowing activities.
However, you do not necessarily need to keep your gerbils in an aquarium-style habitat as there are many wire cages that are just as suitable and have a deeper base designed to accommodate a gerbil’s need to burrow.
When choosing a habitat for your gerbils, you should think about how many you are going to keep as gerbils prefer living in pairs or small groups. Two or more gerbils need a larger habitat than a single gerbil.
Other Equipment You Will Need
A habitat is not the only equipment you will need to keep a gerbil. It is important to buy all these items before bringing your gerbil home.
- Water bottles- Choose a water bottle that is intended for gerbils and that can attach to the side of the type of habitat you choose.
- Feeding bowl- Gerbils only need a small feeding bowl and you can buy these from a pet store or online.
- Dust bath- This is a small container that you fill with bath dust for your gerbil to clean itself.
- Bath dust- Bath dust is what you put inside your dust bath. It is ground powder from pumice or volcanic ash, usually.
- Bedding- The best bedding options for your gerbil are hay, cardboard shavings, or paper shavings.
- Wheels- Adding a wheel to the habitat will give gerbils a form of entertainment and a way to exercise. It is better to opt for a solid wheel so that your gerbil’s tail does not get caught in it while running as this will cause a nasty injury.
- Other toys- Adding other toys to the cage will stop boredom and many are good for gnawing, which will ear down your gerbil’s teeth.
Making sure your gerbils eat a healthy and nutritious diet is a key element of caring for your pets well. The following points will help you to give your hamster a nutritious diet to maintain good health.
- Main food- Gerbils predominantly eat dry food, such as gerbil food mixes or gerbil pellets. You should give them this daily.
- Fruits and vegetables- They also need snacks of fruits and vegetables to give them the vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber they need to stay healthy. They can eat a teaspoon of chopped fruits or vegetables once or twice a week. It is essential you check which fruits and vegetables are safe for them to eat as some are dangerous.
- Other snacks- You can also offer some other snack to your gerbil once or twice a week. These include some cooked meats, mealworms, and chopped hard-boiled egg.
- Water- Although gerbils do not drink a lot of water, it is essential for their survival. Therefore, you must always give your gerbils a clean, fresh supply of water.
Cleaning Your Gerbils Environment
Cleaning is an important part of caring for your gerbils. You must make sure that you promote hygiene by making sure your gerbil can clean itself and by cleaning their environment. Not cleaning your gerbil’s cage or tank regularly puts them at risk of becoming ill. The following advice will help you to make sure your gerbil’s habitat is hygienic.
- Dust baths- Gerbils clean themselves so you do not need to clean them. They use a dust bath so that the dust absorbs any excess moisture and oil from their skin and fur. You should offer your gerbil its dust bath twice a week and change the dust fortnightly.
- Soiled bedding- Using a small scoop, you should remove the soiled bedding from your gerbil’s habitat every day. Gerbils usually use only one or two corners of their cage or tank as a toilet, so this is a quick and simple task.
- Bedding change- Once a week, you should remove all the bedding from your gerbil’s habitat and replace it with new bedding.
- Cleaning the habitat- Every month, you should give your gerbil’s habitat a thorough clean. This involves removing all the bedding and washing both the cage or tank and any accessories in the habitat. You should use an ammonia-free disinfectant to do this.
If you ever suspect that your gerbil is ill, then it is essential that you seek the advice of a veterinarian. Some of the signs that your gerbil needs to see a veterinarian can include:
- Refusal to eat or drink
- Abdominal distension
- Showing signs of pain, such as screeching or limping
- Breathing difficulties
There is less chance of this happening if you take good care of your gerbils and take steps to keep them healthy. Some steps you can take to make sure your gerbils are as healthy as possible and prevent them from becoming ill are:
- Diet- Always make sure you feed your gerbil a healthy and varied diet. Avoid any foods that are dangerous for gerbils. If you are not sure if a food is safe, do not feed it to your gerbil.
- Cleaning- Hygiene has a big impact on the health of your gerbil. If their habitat is not clean, they are at risk of developing infections.
- Environment- Creating the right environment for your gerbils is important for its physical and mental wellbeing. They need enough space to prevent boredom and a quitter environment means they are less likely to suffer from stress. Keeping your gerbil at the right temperature will also prevent illness.
- Accessories- Adding accessories to your gerbil’s habitat promotes good mental wellbeing as it keeps them entertained and reduces boredom. However, you must choose accessories that are safe for gerbils to use or your gerbil may suffer an injury.
If you decide to keep gerbils as pets, then you are responsible for all aspects of their welfare. Gerbils are a relatively easy and low-maintenance pet to care for, but it is still important to get things right. Diet, cleaning, and environment all play a big role in the overall wellbeing of a gerbil and each of these factors is your responsibility as pet gerbils cannot control these factors themselves.