Gerbil care

How often should I clean my gerbil cage?

Your gerbil cage will need spot-cleaning every day to remove any uneaten food, damp bedding and noticeable faeces. The cage should be thoroughly cleaned out with a mild pet-friendly disinfectant every two to three weeks. Remember to add new enrichment every couple of days as gerbils will chew through items very quickly. 

Do gerbils need company? 

It is vital that you keep gerbils in pairs or small same-sex groups to avoid unwanted litters. Gerbils do not generally accept new, unrelated individuals so ideally you should keep family groups together. When introducing unrelated gerbils, it is normally best to introduce an older gerbil to two younger gerbils (remember they should be the same sex). Throughly clean out the cage to remove any existing gerbil smells and make the cage neutral. Once introduced, observe them carefully for a good amount of time so you can watch out for any hostility or figthing, separating your gerbils if necessary. 

Trimming a gerbil's claws and teeth

The teeth and nails of your gerbil should be checked regularly to ensure that they are wearing evenly. A gerbil that is given the opportunity to dig in soil and has plenty of items to chew on should not need any regular trimming. Claw trimming is only necessary in older gerbils who may begin to burrow less and wear their nails down more slowly. Teeth trimming may be needed in older gerbils who lose a tooth and therefore cannot keep the remaining tooth in shape.

Handling a gerbil

Gerbils are extremely fast so they should always be handled very carefully and children should always be supervised while handling their gerbil. When your gerbils first arrive home, allow them some time to settle in for a couple of days before trying to handle. Keep all your handling sessions short and ensure that you are handling your gerbils in a safe, enclosed area, where he cannot come to any harm if he does escape your hands. Sit on the floor to handle your gerbil and allow him to explore your lap.

Picking up a gerbil

Approach your gerbil slowly and ensure that he is fully awake before attempting to pick him up. Place your hand in front of him and allow him to smell it. He should eventually step onto your hand, if he doesn't wait patiently, gently steering him towards you hand using your other hand. Take your gerbil out of his cage slowly, gently and carefully in case he makes a jump for it! Never pick your gerbil up by his tail – gerbil's tails can break clean off if picked up this way, which is very painful. If your gerbil loses his tail he will require immediate veterinary attention.

Pet care advice