It is essential to understand a little of their nature when learning how to take care of a gerbil. Gerbils like to live and play together in the same cage. They will groom each other’s fur and spend time chewing hardwood. They like to exercise, hide and burrow under a bed of shredded paper. To take care of a gerbil you must provide your pet with a proper home that meets his needs.
You will need:
- Aquarium with wire lid or wire cage
- Water bottle
- Chewing block or hardwood bites
- Shredded newsprint (ink-free)
- Newsprint paper (ink-free)
- Paper towel tubes
- Small cardboard box
- Exercise wheel
- Food dish
- Water dish
- Commercial gerbil food
- Create the perfect gerbil paradise. An aquarium with a wire mesh lid makes a safe environment for gerbils. If you are using a wire cage, the mesh should be small enough to assure the gerbil can’t squeeze through and escape. Line the bottom of the cage with newsprint that is not printed on and cover with a layer of shredded, ink-free newsprint. Cut a doorway in a small cardboard box to create a gerbil nest box and place it in the center of the cage. Cut a paper towel tube in half to give the gerbils a place to hide. Add a chewing block or hardwood bites, an exercise wheel, a food dish and a water bottle and your gerbils will live in comfort. To care for a gerbil you must make certain they have hardwood to chew on.
- Keeping company. Gerbils are very social creatures who love having one or more gerbils to live with in their cage. Gerbils will spend their day playing and grooming each other. It is important to watch the activity carefully when introducing a new gerbil to the cage. If the gerbils spend most of their time screaming, they are fighting and should be separated. The perfect gerbil cage is full of playful and well cared for gerbils.
- Gerbil teeth. Often, gerbil owners do not understand the reason their gerbil is constantly chewing. A gerbil is a type of rodent whose teeth constantly grow. A gerbil that is not allowed to chew with have uncontrolled tooth growth that will cause serious discomfort and problems. Always keep hardwood blocks or bits available for your gerbil to chew on. In the absence of wood, gerbils will chew on the wire cage and, in some cases, chew on its own extremities to manage the tooth growth.
- Gerbil housekeeping. Gerbils will likely use a certain portion of the cage as a bathroom which should be cleaned out daily. Move the gerbils from the cage every three days to clean the entire cage. Remove the water bottle, nest, food dish and exercise wheel. Discard the paper lining, shredded paper and paper towel tubes. Clean the cage by wiping it down with a gentle disinfectant and dry the cage thoroughly. Wash the water bottle. Replace the paper lining, shredded paper and paper towel tubes with fresh ones. Return the exercise wheel, nest, food dish and clean water bottle. Now it is time for the gerbils to come home.
Tips & Warnings:
- Gerbils love fruit and sunflower seeds and they make excellent gerbil treats. Gerbils will leave behind the things they do not like or find unappetizing. Start by treating you gerbil with a variety of small pieces of fruit. They will show you what they like. Remember, a treat is an occasional thing, not a regular part of their diet.
- Keep plenty of shredded paper in the cage because gerbils love to burrow. Do not use cedar shavings in the bottom of a gerbil cage. Cedar shavings can irritate a gerbil's liver and respiratory system.
- Never pick up a gerbil by the tail for this can cause serious injury.
- Always supervise children when they are handling a gerbil.