The minimum size for a gerbilarium should be a floor surface of 70cm long, and 35cm wide. Gerbilarums should also be at least 50cm tall because they are great jumpers.
Wire cages are not suitable. This is because the bedding can be kicked out. They need plenty of material to be able to dig and burrow into. A large tank or aquarium could be a great option, with a secure wire lid.
In the wild, a gerbil would live in a long tunnel underground, up to 3m long. So while the minimum cage dimensions above are a guide, we’d always suggest going as large as possible. Your gerbil should also have loads of additional resources alongside their cage, such as a free-roaming pen and outdoor pen for when the weather is nice.
What can I use as gerbil bedding?
Bedding for gerbils should be dust-extracted, to avoid them inhaling dangerous dust and debris. Organic soil and peat are ideal as a base because they are seen as resembling their natural environment.
Then, top with some Timothy or meadow hay. Safely shredded paper is also good for nesting.
Never use fluffy materials or fabrics. This can wrap around a limb of a small animal.
A gerbilarium should always contain a nest box. But, never use wood or plastic as they can chew this. Clay flowerpots cut in half can be ideal.
Always include a dedicated gerbil dust bath, too. Chinchilla sand can be used. Like chinchillas, gerbils like to keep clean using a dust bath. When you are buying a gerbilarium, do bear this in mind – you still want to give them enough space to move around.
In their natural habitat, tunnels will be common. Tubes, such as toilet rolls, will be great for them to run through. They will also chew them. Gerbils can also like fruit tree branches to claim on, and higher points to act as a lookout.
Where should I put a gerbil cage?
Their tank or cage should be in a place which isn’t too hot and isn’t too draughty. So, don’t put it near a radiator or heat source, nor a window or door. Also, avoid direct sunlight.
Gerbils will like a quiet spot as well. So, avoid a loud room such as one with a television. You should also be careful when vacuuming around them or making any loud noise. Gerbils communicate using ultrasonic frequencies, so noises can interfere with this.
Also bear in mind that gerbils can be most active during the evening, so housing them in a bedroom may not be ideal for your good night’s sleep.
When should I clean a gerbil cage?
A gerbilarium should be cleaned every two to three weeks. This is less often than other small animals, with reason. Gerbils originate in dry, desert-like grasslands, so they don’t produce much urine or waste. So while you should spot clean if needed, thorough cleans are not necessary for a week or two, and smells shouldn’t build up.
Their burrowing material will only need fully replaced every few months, and during this time, you can clean the tank walls with a gerbil-friendly disinfectant. Of course, do deep clean more often if you need to. Having quite a few gerbils will mean more cleaning is probably needed.
If you’re reading this because you are considering adopting a gerbil, please read our gerbil care guide beforehand.