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Basic Care for Gerbils

Updated on June 29, 2017
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Brittany Banks loves animals. She has experience with this type of animal and likes to share how to take care of it.



Gerbils are very fun to have as pets. They are friendly and very social. Most gerbils like to be in pairs, however some of them do not. Try to find a pair that was raised in the same litter, and only keep a pair of the same sex, unless you want to breed. I do not recommending breeding if you have no experience.

Gerbils love to be held and be out of the cage, and they are very energetic. Before you bring your gerbils home, try to have everything you need and be prepared. Never house a gerbil with a different species of animal!


Housing Requirements

Gerbils are very messy rodents, so I suggest getting a tank. Avoid wired cages, because they will easily get their feet caught and injure themselves. Make sure the tank is at least ten to twenty gallons and has a screened lid. Make sure the tank is escape proof. There are metal clamps you can buy to attach the lid to the tank. You can find these at your local Petco.

Gerbils love to dig, so you will need to purchase bedding. Care fresh is great and it also comes in different colors. Never use any type of wood shavings with any rodent, because it will cause them to get respiratory infections. Fill the tank two to four inches of bedding to give them room to dig.

Your gerbils will need a hide out to sleep in. Wooden huts or plastic igloos are great for this. Make sure the hide out is large enough for both of them to sleep in.

Purchase a solid wheel for your gerbils to prevent their feet from getting caught. They will run randomly, but mostly at night.

You will need to find a water bottle and a water bottle holder. It can be tricky to find a way to attach it to a tank. Pet Smart carries these types of holders. Gerbils do not require food dishes, but you can provide one if you choose to do so. If you choose not to, scatter the food all over the tank. This can stimulate eating habits as they do in the wild.

Paper towel or toilet paper tubes are great for your gerbils to play with or chew on. Lava ledges are another safe alternative. Petsmart carries lava ledges. Always provide something for your gerbils to chew on, because their teeth never stop growing.


The majority of people use a commercial pelleted diet to feed their gerbils. Most of these types of diets are not healthy. Oxbow Healthy Essentials Hamster & Gerbil food is one of the only types of healthy pelleted diets on the market. However, some people feed fresh food. Gerbils can have seeds, fruit, or vegetables. Try and not to feed too many sunflower seeds, because they have a lot of fat content. Pumpkin seeds are way healthier. Avoid rhubarb, grapes, onion, leeks, garlic, and any type of junk food.


Handling Your Gerbils

Handle you gerbils often, so they can get used to being held. Always wash your hands before and after. Gently pick up one at a time. Do not force them to do anything or hold them by their tail. This will cause them to bite and become aggressive. Try to cup the gerbil in your hands. They are very quick and will try to run. Be careful and never keep your eye off of them as they can escape.

Cleaning The Tank

Clean the tank daily to remove any old food. The bedding should be replaced once a week. Clean the tank with hot water and white distilled vinegar. The vinegar will kill any bacteria. You can use the bath tub to make this an easier task.

Have You Ever Owned A Gerbil?

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Morrow, Janet. "AGS Gerbils Home." AGS Gerbils Home. American Gerbil Society, 2001-2017. Web. 30 June 2017. <>.

"Gerbils." Petgerbilsorg Gerbils Comments., 2017. Web. 30 June 2017. <>.


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