How To Care For a Pet Gerbil
How to Care for a Mongolian Gerbil
A Mongolian gerbil is a great choice of pet that you should be able to take care of pretty easily. Keep your gerbil happy by giving it a large, clean habitat with space to dig and move around. Feed your pet nutritious food and make sure it has plenty of clean water and things to chew on. Make sure the habitat has tunnels and hiding spots to make your gerbil feel right at home.
Providing a Suitable Habitat
Buy a plexiglass rodent enclosure.Buy a plexiglass tank at your local pet store to house your Mongolian gerbil. The enclosure should measure at least 36 square inches (approximately 232 square centimeters) per gerbil that you have. The top of the tank should be covered with a wire mesh lid that seals tightly enough to be escape-proof.
- A tank is a more suitable choice than a traditional wire cage because gerbils can squeeze through spaces as small as .5 inches (1.3 cm) in diameter.
- Regular cages have bases that are not deep enough to hold the amount of bedding needed to satisfy your Mongolian gerbil's instincts to dig and burrow.
- Plexiglass tanks suitable for gerbils cost and up.
Purchase cellulose fiber bedding.Fill the bottom of your Mongolian gerbil's habitat with 1 inch (2.5 cm) of soft, clean, absorbent bedding to fulfill their nesting needs. Opt for a specially-made bedding (sold at pet stores) made from cellulose fiber. Avoid using wood shavings, as cedar and pine have oils that are harmful to gerbils.
Provide your Mongolian gerbil with a hiding spot.Give your Mongolian gerbil a place to hide within its cage, like a small box or empty flower pot. Gerbils like to have somewhere to get away from light, heat, or outside disruptions. Crawling into a small enclosure allows your gerbil to mimic how it would burrow into a hiding hole in nature.
Place the habitat in a safe place.Be sure to set up your gerbil habitat in an area of the house that is safe from other pets, small children, or other dangers. Make sure that it is not too close to a radiator or sunny window, as gerbils can overheat easily. Be sure that your gerbil will get enough darkness to sleep through the nights.
- A 50/50 schedule of light and darkness is ideal for gerbils.
Clean the tank at least once a week.At least once a week, empty your gerbil's cage completely and scrub it with warm water and dish soap. Rinse it carefully to remove all traces of soap and dry it completely. Add a mixture of clean bedding and old, unsoiled bedding to the bottom.
- Wash any plastic toys or tubes at the same time as you wash the tank.
- Remove and replace any cardboard tubes, old bedding, and pieces of food.
- Your gerbil's food dish should be washed at the end of every day, or before refilling it.
- Place your gerbil in a secure place, like a playpen or running ball, while you clean its tank.
Keeping Your Gerbil Healthy
Look for signs of illness.Keeping a close eye on your Mongolian gerbil is the best way to spot any possible medical problems. Symptoms like lethargy, difficulty breathing, and diarrhea are generally bad symptoms and warrant a visit to a veterinarian. You should also observe your gerbil for visible tumors or growths, which should be checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Feed your Mongolian gerbil a nutritionally balanced gerbil food mix.Purchase a specially formulated gerbil food mix from a pet store to feed your pet. Read the nutritional information for different brands of food and choose a mix that has about 12 % protein and about 6% fat.You can also offer a few small, bite-sized pieces of fresh vegetables to your gerbil every day, such as carrot, lettuce, or broccoli.
- Avoid feeding your gerbil pieces of fruit, as the natural sugars can be harmful in large quantities.
- Keep a constant supply of food available to your gerbil and throw out uneaten pieces of food at the end of every day.
Provide a constant supply of fresh water.Make sure that your gerbil has a constant supply of clean water to prevent dehydration. Purchase a small water bottle with a drinking tube from a pet store. Attach it to the bottle outside of the habitat to prevent your gerbil from chewing on it.
Give your Mongolian gerbil things to chew on.Mongolian gerbils have incisor teeth that grow constantly and need to be worn down. Purchase wooden blocks from a pet store for your gerbil to chew on regularly. Overgrown incisor teeth can prevent your gerbil from eating properly and hurt its health.
- Non-toxic plastic chew toys, which can be purchased at pet stores, are another good option for your pet gerbil.
Get your gerbil used to being handled.Training your gerbil to be handled is important to prepare for situations where you might have to move it due to illness or risk of injury. Begin by feeding your gerbil small treats out of your hand. Once your pet is comfortable with this, start picking it up by gently scooping it into your hand.
- Gerbils have fragile tails and should never be picked up by them for any reason.
Keeping Your Gerbil Entertained
Opt for more than one pet gerbil.Mongolian gerbils are very social animals and benefit from having companions. For the best results, choose two gerbils of the same sex when they are both young so that they get accustomed to living together. If possible, choose two litter mates as your pet gerbils.
Give it tunnels to move through.In nature, Mongolian gerbils tunnel through the ground regularly. Give your pet the opportunity to follow this natural instinct by purchasing small cylinders for them to move through. PVC piping from a hardware store is an excellent option, as well as cardboard rolls (i.e. from wrapping paper rolls or paper towels.)
- Replace cardboard tunes regularly, as your gerbil may chew through them.
Buy chew toys for your Mongolian gerbil.Soft plastic chew toys have the dual benefit of entertaining your Mongolian gerbil and providing it with something to chew on. Visit a local pet store to purchase chew toys sold especially for gerbils. These toys should be non-toxic and durable.
- Your gerbil will have the tendency of chewing any toys that you provide it with, so opt only for chew toys.
Let your gerbil out of its cage.If your gerbil is comfortable with being picked up, let it out of its cage for a short period of time. Monitor your gerbil closely the entire time as it can hide, sneak away, and crawl into small spaces very easily. Use elastics or twist ties to tie up any loose electrical wires, which gerbils are likely to chew on.
- Be prepared to scoop your gerbil up quickly if it heads to an area of the room that you don't want it to go.
Purchase a plastic ball for your Mongolian gerbil to move around in.Visit a local pet store to buy a roller ball specially-designed for gerbils to run around in. The ball should be translucent, well-ventilated, and light enough for your gerbil to propel forward on its own. Do not leave your gerbil in there for more than fifteen minutes at a time, and block off any dangerous places your pet may roll itself towards, namely staircases.
- If your gerbil soils the inside of the plastic ball, remove it immediately and disinfect the ball.
QuestionDo gerbils usually bite?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGerbils will bite when they feel threatened, which varies based on genetic and socialization factors.Thanks!
QuestionI only need to clean my tank out once a week because mine doesn't urinate often, is this okay?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAll animals urinate basically the same amount, but once a week is probably fine. If you notice that the cage starts to smell, clean it more frequently.Thanks!
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