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5 Essential Gerbil Housing Ideas for Ultimate Comfort

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Gerbils, those charming, furry creatures, make delightful companions, but their well-being hinges on one crucial element: housing. In this segment of the Gerbil Care Handbook, we embark on an exploratory journey through the realm of gerbil housing. Each facet, from bedding to toys, contributes to the ultimate comfort and happiness of your little friends.

When it comes to gerbil care, the quality of their home is non-negotiable. Proper housing, filled with suitable bedding, cozy nesting areas, abundant water and food, and stimulating toys, sets the stage for gerbils to thrive and lead fulfilling lives. To become a gerbil guardian is to accept the responsibility of ensuring that every aspect of their environment is designed to meet their needs.

In this article, we will delve into five essential gerbil housing ideas, each carefully crafted to offer unbeatable comfort. As we explore these concepts, you’ll discover how a well-thought-out gerbil habitat can foster health, happiness, and the development of a strong bond between you and your furry companions. Let’s embark on this journey to create the perfect home for your gerbils and unlock the secrets of their well-being.

Gerbil Housing: The Key to Happy and Healthy Companions

Selecting the right housing for your gerbils is one of the first and most crucial decisions you’ll make. A popular choice for a pair of gerbils is a ten-gallon aquarium for various reasons. It’s cost-effective, easy to clean, spacious, and allows for creative customization. However, it’s essential to have a small animal top to prevent escapes and ensure your gerbils’ safety.

Here are some general guidelines for tank sizes based on the number of gerbils:

  • 10-gallon tank: 1 or 2 gerbils
  • 15-gallon tank: 3 gerbils
  • 20-gallon tank: 4 gerbils
  • 30-gallon tank: 6 gerbils

When it comes to lids, you can find two popular types in most pet stores: a simple fine wire lid and one with fittings for habitat tubes. If you’re not near a pet store, you can make your lids using hardware cloth, which is cost-effective. Ensure that the lid is securely fastened with commercial or homemade lid clips, especially if you have curious cats.

While wire cages are an alternative option, they come with some drawbacks. Gerbils love to dig and rearrange their bedding, which can lead to a messy floor when using wire cages. Multilevel cages with ladders can pose hazards to young pups, as they can injure themselves on the wire rungs. Furthermore, gerbils often gnaw on wire cages, which can be annoying and potentially harmful.

Plastic habitats are another option, but they have poor ventilation and can become smelly quickly. They are also easier for gerbils to escape from and are often chewed to pieces over time.

Bedding Material

Gerbils require bedding for absorbing urine and for their natural digging instincts. The best bedding choices are aspen, Carefresh, and corncob beddings. In a 10-gallon tank with two gerbils, you’ll only need to clean the bedding every two to three weeks, but be vigilant for any signs of odor or spills that may require immediate changing. With regular cleaning, your gerbil’s habitat should remain odor-free.

It’s crucial to avoid pine or cedar wood shavings, especially if you plan to breed your gerbils, as they can lead to respiratory problems and liver damage. Shredded paper can work, but it may lead to a quicker onset of odors compared to the recommended beddings. If using paper, ensure it’s plain and free of any newsprint.

Fill the tank or cage to about one-third full with bedding. Gerbils enjoy piling it up and using it for burrowing and hiding their food. If you’re breeding, two inches of bedding should be sufficient.

Nesting Material

Providing gerbils with appropriate nesting material is important for their comfort. Plain white, unscented tissue paper is a safe and cost-effective option. Simply shred it into narrow strips and allow your gerbils to create cozy nests from it. However, be cautious about using commercial nesting materials that may look fluffy but can be dangerous, as gerbils can become entangled in them or ingest them, potentially leading to health issues.

Nesting Box

For additional comfort and privacy, consider adding a nesting box to your gerbil’s habitat. These boxes are a safe place for gerbils to sleep and hide. You can either make a nesting box out of wood or purchase one from a pet store. However, avoid plastic nesting boxes, as gerbils are likely to chew through them.

Please note that many breeders recommend not using a nesting box with a breeding pair, as it can pose risks to the pups, potentially trapping or harming them.

Water Bottle

Each tank or cage should be equipped with its own water bottle to ensure that your gerbils have access to clean, fresh water at all times. There are various styles available, many of which come with wire hangers for use with cages. If you’re using an aquarium, you’ll need a special bottle holder or shield to secure it properly.

Make sure the tip of the water bottle is well above the bedding to prevent it from getting clogged or wet. Check the water bottle daily to ensure it’s functioning correctly, and you should be able to see a drop of water when you tap the nipple.


Feeding your gerbils a well-balanced diet is essential for their health. A good premixed gerbil food is recommended, as it ensures the right combination of protein, minerals, vitamins, and bulk. It’s a good practice to pick out sunflower seeds from the mix and hand-feed them to your gerbils during the day.

This not only prevents one gerbil from hoarding all the seeds but also allows you to bond with your pets. Here are some general guidelines for the protein and fat content of gerbil food based on the age or situation:

Food can be placed directly on the bedding to allow gerbils to forage or served in small ceramic dishes. Keep in mind that most gerbils tend to bury their food dishes in their bedding, which is their way of protecting their stash from others.

For occasional treats, consider items like Cheerios, Rice Krispies (without artificial flavours, sugar, or marshmallows), and the occasional peanut. However, peanuts are high in fat, so they should be given sparingly. Gerbils also enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, and lettuce, but be sure to remove any uneaten portions after a day to prevent spoilage and frequent feedings.

Food Dish

While a food dish is not necessary, if you prefer to use one, opt for a small, heavy ceramic dish that gerbils can’t easily tip over.

Toys and Exercise

Gerbils are highly active animals, and they need an enriching environment to stay entertained and healthy. Your creativity can guide you in providing them with stimulating toys and activities.

For example, a simple four by four wooden block with drilled holes makes an excellent toy for gerbils. You can ask your local lumberyard to cut and drill the holes for you, or use scrap pieces of wood. Ensure that the wood is untreated to avoid potential health risks.

Heavier cardboard rolls, like those from finished rolls of toilet paper, are another favorite among gerbils. They love running in and out of these tubes, and it provides them with a satisfying chew toy. However, these cardboard rolls tend to get shredded within a few hours, so having a constant supply is beneficial, especially for those with multiple tanks.

Using traditional wire hamster wheels in your aquarium can be a great source of exercise for gerbils. To set them up safely, hang the wheel from the wire tank lid to save space and prevent accidents. You can attach the wheel using twist ties, which are easy to remove. To ensure your gerbils’ safety, cover the outside of the wheel with heavy masking tape, and add bedding inside to prevent their feet from sticking.

It’s important to note that some gerbils love their wheels and spend hours playing in them, while others may not show much interest.

In conclusion, providing your gerbils with an appropriate habitat, bedding, nesting materials, clean water, a balanced diet, and stimulating toys is vital for their health and happiness. By following the guidelines outlined in this Gerbil Care Handbook, you can create a comfortable and enriching environment that allows your gerbils to thrive and bring joy to your life.

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Dr. Chandrika

About Me

I am a veterinary doctor who is passionate about providing top-quality care for pets and their families. My mission is to share my knowledge and expertise with pet owners through my blog, petearnest.com.


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