Your Pet Gerbil
A Popular Pet
Gerbils are small. You don't need to have a large house or yard in order to keep them. you also don't need to walk, groom, or train a gerbil.
In fact, gerbils prodice only a small amount of waste. That means less cleanup work for you!
Some pets can cost a lot of money. You can buy a gerbil for just a few dollars. With proper care, a gerbil can live for three to five years.
The best thing about pet gerbils is the fun you can have with them. Gerbils are intelligent and curious. These eager little explorers will sniff out every corner. Don't be surprised if they stand up on their hind feet to greet you. A pet gerbil can bring you hours of joy.
Choosing your Gerbil
Gerbils are sold in many pet stores. Go to a clean store that has many gerbils to choose from. A clean store is more likely to care for its animals.
Check out all the gerbils at the store. Be gentle when picking up a gerbil. Rest your hand in the cage for a few minutes. If the gerbil doesn't climb onto your hand, scoop it up carefully with two hands. Never pick up a gerbil by its tail.
Gerbils come in many different colors. They can be solid black, gold, beige, or gray. Gerbils can also have patches of color.
Whatever color you pick, don't buy just one gerbil. Gerbils like to be with other gerbils. They don't do well alone. A gerbil with a companion tends to be healthier and friendlier than a gerbil that lives alone. It is best to buy gerbils that are between four and eight weeks old.
Are you thinking of buying a male or a female gerbil? Many gerbil owners prefer two females. Sometimes two make adults will fight. If you buy a male and female, you could end up with gerbil babies. Then you might have more animals thank you can handle!
Taking Home a Healthy Gerbil
A healthy gerbil should have:
- smooth, shiny fur
- clear, bright eyes
- a clean nose
- a solid, plump body
- a curious, active nature
Pass up a gerbil that has:
- a thin coat of fur or any bald spots
- any fluid coming from the eyes
- a runny nose which could be a sign of illness
- any cuts or scratches on its body or tail
- no energy
A Gerbil Shopping List
Before you bring your little pets home, you will need to buy some supplies. Here is a shopping list of what you will need for your gerbils:
- Cage - Gerbils are small, but they need lots of space. A gerbil cage should have room for the animal to sleep, eat, play, and explore. You will need a larger cage for a pair of gerbils than you would for a single gerbil. There are many different kinds of gerbil cages. Pick one that is easy to clean and roomy. An aquarium, a glass tank used to keep fish or other small pets, can be a good choice. A simple plastic and wire cage works well, too. Some people choose a plastic cage with tubes for the gerbils to crawl through.
- Bedding - Wood shavings make great gerbil bedding. Cover the bottom of the cage with a thick layer of wood shavings. gerbils love to dig in their bedding.
- Feeding dish and water bottle - Buy a sturdy food dish that won't tip over and a water bottle. Don't use a water bowl because bedding and food will fall into the water.
- Nesting box - A nesting box is a small container in a gerbil cage. Gerbils hide in a nesting box. Sometimes they take a nap there!
- Toys - Gerbils need toys for fun and exercise. you can buy little balls, bells, and ladders made for small animals. You don't have to spend a lot of money on toys. Cardboard paper towel tubes make wonderful tunnels for your gerbils to explore.
- Exercise wheel - gerbils enjoy running and playing on exercise wheels. Be sure to get a wheel with a solid, plastic running surface made for gerbils. Do not get a wire frame exercise wheel because a gerbil's long tail can become caught on the wheel.
- Wood chew sticks - Your gerbils will need wood sticks to gnaw. These are also sold at pet stores. Gerbils are rodents just like mice, rats, or squirrels. Rodents are animals with two large front teeth for gnawing, called incisors. A rodent's incisors are always growing. Gnawing helps trim the incisors.
Caring for your Gerbil
Do yo uhave your gerbil and all your supplies? Now you need to find the perfect place for your gerbil cage.
Pick a spot where you and your family will see the gerbils often. Keep the cage away from direct sunlight or cold areas in the house. Put the cage in a safe place, away from other family pets.
Gerbils need a clean cage for their health and comfort. You will need to clean the cage once a week. Change all the bedding at this time. you need to replace bedding soiled with gerbil droppings every few days.
You should scrub the water bottle, food dish, and any plastic toys every week, too. The cage should be a place where you would want to live if you were a gerbil!
it is important to feed you gerbil a healthy diet. You can feed adult gerbils food pellets. Food pellets are small, hard balls of food made for small animals. But don't feed them to young gerbils. They may have trouble breaking the pellets into pieces they can chew.
You can also give your gerbil packaged food mixes. These mixes have just about everything gerbils need.
Feed your gerbils at the same time every day. Don't be surprised if they do not eat all their food at once. Gerbils like to nibble their food throughout the day.
Be sure you are feeding your gerbil fresh food. Check the date stamped on the package and throw it away after that date. If you buy smaller packages of gerbil mix, you are less likely to wind up with stale food.
Different gerbils often need different amounts of food. Young, growing gerbils east more than older gerbils. Male gerbils are larger than females and eat more as well. Active gerbils also eat more. Pay attention to your gerbils' needs.
Once in a while, you can give your gerbil a treat. But don't expect your pet to make wise food choices.
If they can, your gerbils will eat too much of a favorite food, such as sunflower seeds. Then th gerbil may gain too much weight. it is your job to help your pet eat in a healthy way.
If your gerbil should become ill or injured, take it to a veterinarian right away. A veterinarian is a doctor who treats animals. Try to find a veterinarian who is used to caring for gerbil.
A Great Addition
It takes work to care for gerbils. But most owners find out the pleasures of gerbils outweigh the work of caring for them.
So enjoy you gerbils. Let them out of their cage to exercise often. They will like exploring their surroundings.
Never leave a gerbil alone when it is out of its cage. Watch your gerbils so they don't get lost or hurt themselves. Gerbils don't know that it is dangerous to chew on an electric cord or eat household plants. Also, never let your gerbil out when a dog or cat is in the room.
A gerbil can be a great addition to your family. These curious, active creatures care sure to make everyone smile.