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3 Ways to Trim or Wear Down a Gerbil's Teeth and Claws

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Cam has kept gerbils for several years and likes to supplement her pets' diets with the occasional healthy treat.

This is Midnight, our gerbil. She has a feisty spirit and is very fun!

This is Midnight, our gerbil. She has a feisty spirit and is very fun!

Why You Need to Manage Your Gerbil's Claws and Teeth

A gerbil's teeth and claws are always growing and getting longer. A lot of people will just let them grow and will never stop to think about how this is affecting their pet or the relationship they have with their gerbil.

While longs claws and sharp teeth can be painful to the handler of the gerbil, that's not what is wrong with letting your gerbil's claws and teeth grow long. Gerbils can get sick and even injure themselves if they have overgrown claws and/or teeth. This is dangerous; this means that you need to prevent a gerbil's teeth and claws from growing too long.

The 3 Most Common Methods

We all know that cutting a gerbil's claws is time-consuming and can be painful to both the gerbil and the tender. Because of this, we avoid this activity at all costs. On the other hand, handling gerbils becomes harder when their claws and teeth are long, leading to improper care.

What a lot of people don't know is that there are easier ways to clip a gerbil's claws and wear down their teeth. The answer to this is so simple that I've seen many people do the "duh" reaction once they found out!

1. Nail Clippers for Gerbils

While these are probably the most difficult option for clipping a gerbil's claws, most people choose them. There are different kinds of nail clippers; the ones made for cats and small dogs will not work for your gerbils. Another thing people try to do is use human nail clippers, which is also not a good idea. The nail clippers you want are the ones that are labeled as "Nail Clippers for Small Animals" or "for Rodents."

There are some brands that clip like normal clippers, but there are better brands that actually wear down the nails instead of clipping them and causing damage or pain to the gerbil. If you are going to use nail clippers, I suggest using the ones that wear away the gerbil's claws instead of clipping them.

Our gerbils, Honey and Midnight, Honey is shy, but she's a sweetheart. Midnight is feisty but loving.

Our gerbils, Honey and Midnight, Honey is shy, but she's a sweetheart. Midnight is feisty but loving.

2. Sandpaper Floors

Try putting down sandpaper or similar gritty surfaces on the shelves and bottom of the gerbil's cage. Doing this will force the gerbils to walk across it, resulting in the gerbil's claws wearing down. While this is a wonderful way to keep the gerbil's claws shorter, it has some drawbacks:

  • The sandpaper would need to be changed once a week along with the rest of the cage. That in itself can get expensive quickly and also difficult.
  • A lot of gerbils will go under the sandpaper if it's not weighted down in some way.
  • It gets uncomfortable to walk on all the time; how would you like that? This is why the entire cage should not be filled with sandpaper like I have seen so many times before.

3. Wood Blocks

Another thing people do is to put in a brick or wood block the gerbils can climb over and gnaw on. This way, the block of wood or brick will wear down both their claws and teeth. This is an okay method, but one of the drawbacks is that some gerbils will avoid these blocks and chew toys. They might actually never touch them.

Our Gerbil Honey, she's shy but sweet!

Our Gerbil Honey, she's shy but sweet!

What I Recommend: A Mixture of the Above

Here's what I recommend: It has worked best for me to have a little bit of sandpaper on part of the cage, and then I put in chew toys, blocks of wood, and/or a brick.

My gerbils also like to chew on sticks from outside. As long as you make sure that you avoid apple branches and pine branches and that the branches you bring in for the gerbils have been washed with clean water, dried, and frozen in the freezer overnight to kill any bugs or bug eggs that may be in or on the branch . . . you're all good!

More Pet Gerbil Care:

  • How To Help Depressed Gerbils
    Do you have a gerbil that seems depressed? Depression is not only common among people these days but also can apply to animals/pets in this case regarding gerbils. Let me first state that having a depressed...
  • All About Gerbils: Care For Your Gerbil's Diet
    Pet Gerbil's will eat a variaty of different things, but what's healthy and what's not for your pet gerbils is another thing. Gerbils will eat foods like: Nuts Seeds Fruits Vegetables These are all...
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


Emma on September 27, 2016:

I couldnt help but notice the wire floor on the second story thing. Wire flooring could cause bumblefoot, wich is very painful to ittle gerbies. Just i heads up on that

Cam Anju (author) from Stoughton, Wisconsin on June 29, 2009:

Army Infantry Mom, sorry for my late response!

That is difficult, a lot of people don't take as good care of their pets as the should because they think the stores are just trying to make a bigger sale, however a lot of people also have so much stuff it gets overwhelming because the store is trying to make a bigger sale... I've seen quite a few experiences here both have happened! Hopefully people who are wanting new pets can look into the great web and find what they really do need to care for the pet.. instead of slacking or over buying.

-Thanks for you comment.

Army Infantry Mom on June 18, 2009:

Great hub,..I worked in a pet store and when someone came into the store and bought a gerbil or hamster we would recommend the items you spoke of, however people seemed as if we were just trying to make a bigger sale, hopefully people who thought that might be reading this and now know we were just concerned for the pets well being.

Cam Anju (author) from Stoughton, Wisconsin on June 04, 2009:

Herald Daily, Thank you so much!

k@ri, thank you... they are aren't they?

RedElf, thanks... :)


RedElf from Canada on June 03, 2009:

Congratulations on your nomination - well done...and way to go with the challenge!

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on June 03, 2009:

Your gerbils are very cute! I had gerbils as a kid, but none since. Congratulations on being chosen for HubNuggets!

Herald Daily from A Beach Online on June 02, 2009:

I've never had a gerbil but found this interesting reading, none the less. Congratulations on being chosen as a Wannbe and good luck in the HubNugget contest!

Cam Anju (author) from Stoughton, Wisconsin on May 29, 2009:

Ripplemaker, thanks for letting me know! That's awesome! :)

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on May 29, 2009:

This is an official announcement from the Hubnuggets Team: Your hub has been chosen to be one of the 15 Hubnugget Wannabes for this week! Yay…congratulations!!!

This link will take you to the hub where you can see all the juicy details about Hubnuggets, the other nominees and of course, where you can vote!!! The top 5 hubs with the most votes will get the chance to be part of the Hubpages newsletter. So click the link now and join the Hubnugget fun!

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