How To Care For Gerbils

It is easy to learn how to care for gerbils. Gerbils are generally sturdy creatures. It is very common for them to live out their lives with little or no health issues. This hardy rodent is naturally found in the desert and semi-arid regions of Africa and Mongolia. With such a dry natural environment, gerbils require less water than similarly sized mammals. As a result, they produce less urine which makes it easier to care for gerbils.

To care for gerbils, you will need:

  • Another gerbil (optional)
  • Glass aquarium, small animal cage or modular gerbil home
  • Nesting materials
  • Gerbil wheel
  • Gerbil pellets
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables or live crickets
  • Water
  1. Gerbils are social animals. Ideally, you should consider getting a minimum of two gerbils as they crave regular interaction. If you are not planning on a breeding them, then choose two same-sex gerbils. If you can only keep one gerbil, you must regularly interact and play with your pet since they get depressed and miserable when they are left by themselves too often. Handling and playing with your pet will also allow your gerbil to bond with you.
  2. Getting the proper housing is the first step to care for gerbils. Glass aquariums and standard small-animal cages are acceptable but If your budget allows, you can consider a quality plastic modular home specifically made for hamsters and gerbils. These homes have living quarters, feeding areas and tubes tunnels for them to explore. As a bonus, some homes allow the tubes to be moved around so owners can change the configuration entirely to challenge and amuse their pets.  
  3. Your gerbil will be more comfortable if their home is lined with good nesting materials. These rodents really enjoy burrowing underneath the nesting materials you have provided.  At times, they will even use these for their bedding needs and for warmth if they feel cold. You should avoid being tempted by the scent of cedar chips. They should never be used as nesting materials as they are toxic and may harm your pets. It is recommended to get quality nesting materials from a reputable pet store, but as a temporary fix, you can use shredded brown paper or cardboard. 
  4. You must also be careful when giving your gerbil a wheel to run on. Most wheels for mice and hamsters have large open spaces between the bars of the wheel. Gerbils sometimes catch and injure their long tails or legs when using these. To avoid the risk of injury, you can apply strong tape to seal the spaces or purchase solid wheels specifically made for gerbils.
  5. Good food is a must to properly care for gerbils. Your local pet store should carry a good selection of prepackaged gerbil pellets. A good brand will provide all the nutrients your pets will need. However, your gerbil is sure to enjoy some variety. And even if your gerbil’s natural habitats are dry, desert areas, always remember to give them a supply of fresh water.


  • Consider giving your pet some fresh fruits, vegetables or even a cricket as a treat.
  • When buying  a gerbil be sure to take it out of the cage at the store and handle it so you can see if it has a good temperament.


  • A cheaply priced plastic modular home may be vulnerable to chewing. As with most things, you get what you pay for. A well-built home may cost a little more but the materials are generally sturdier and are reinforced at key points.
  • Supervise children when they play with a gerbil since they can be harmed by rough play.



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