Gerbils Care: About Pet Gerbils

About Gerbils...

My family just took a little trip to petsmart the other day and fell in love with two adorable gerbils, we were surprised to see how active and friendly they are, they truly have been a great addition to our household which consists of myself, my mom, and my two noisy younger brothers, 6 and 8 years old.

What Makes Gerbils a Great Pet for Us

Gerbils are from the desert and semi-desert areas of Africa and Mongolia, this makes them a creature that requires LESS water then most other rodents, also meaning less Cage cleaning due to less urine... making Gerbils a particularly clean animal! In our house "LESS Cage cleaning" is a great phrase, in fact, I'm sure it's a great phrase in "ANY" household!

Gerbils are a very friendly animal, they hardly ever bite, are curious of what's going on, and will often adapt to your schedule! They are such lovable creatures... :)

Gerbil Facts

1. Gerbils will grow to be 6-7 inches long (including the tail).

2. Gerbils live 4-5 years if properly cared for.

3. Gerbils like (generally) quiet environments.

4. Gerbils are playful and enjoy peoples attention.

About Pet Gerbils

Gerbils are a part of the rodent family, along with mice, rats, hamsters, and other small furies. The word 'rodent' is derived from the Latin word 'rodere' which means 'to gnaw'.

Gerbils are friendly, curious, animals. You will smile the minute you see the little gerbil slowly waking up with it's small warm eyes welcoming you as they come to greet you.

Or when you see all of them sleeping in a gerbil pile up.

If that's not enough to fall in love with, the moment you see them stand up on their back legs, sniff the air and see those cute tails with a spritz of fur sticking out from the end you will surely fall in love, they are just so adorable!

Gerbils Care: Gerbil Foods About Nuts & Seeds

"What Do Gerbils Eat?"

Gerbils enjoy all kinds of different nuts, seeds, berries, and other fruits and vegetables. Nuts like peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, and other such nuts are very enjoyable for gerbils.

When buying gerbils nuts make sure they are unsalted, and preferably raw, or uncooked. Raw and unsalted nuts are better for gerbils while the roasted, flavored and salted nuts can be very unhealthy to gerbils and cause them health problems due to lack of nutrition, disease and obesity.

Gerbils also enjoy seeds. Seeds such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and other such seeds are awesome source of protein and energy for gerbils!

Again with the seeds, the should be unsalted, unflavored and preferably raw, or uncooked. Any flavored, salted, roasted nuts and or seeds in large quantities can be hazardous the a gerbils health and should not be given o them in large amounts.

Gerbils Care: Store Bought Gerbil Foods & Fresh Foods

Store bought gerbil food are also good, I recommend gerbil food mixtures with mostly seeds and nuts and little alfalfa bites, grains and color cookies. A medium mixture of the above items is good, gerbils also like dried fruits and vegetables in their food mixtures, such as carrots, apples, corn, and other items like the above.

About fresh foods, gerbils love fresh foods, such as fresh produce that's not dried. Kiwi, pear, celery, zucchini, cucumber, carrots, parsnips, corn, lettuce, plums, grapes, strawberries, blue berries, blackberries, mulberries, bananas, apple chunks are all good for gerbils.

A mixture of different nuts and seeds along with a bit of fresh produce will keep your gerbil healthy, and will keep their fur coat soft and shin.

Gerbils Care: Before Feeding Your Pet Gerbils

Food Preparation: Note: Foods will need preparation, please read on to find out what, how and why.

Fruits and vegetables needs to be washed, to remove any harmful substances from their surface, or pesticides from the surface of the produce. Wash produce in warm, clean water, scrub to remove any dirt.

Note: Remove any left over fresh food after 2-4 hours of putting it in the cage to prevent your gerbils eating rotten produce.

Nuts, seeds, and store bought food mixtures need to be put in the freezer BEFORE they are fed to your gerbil, for at least 5 hours, overnight would be best. This is because (store bought brands especially) can sometimes have little bugs in the mixture, or eggs, putting the food in the freezer kill the bugs or eggs that may or may not be there. If you gerbils get these bugs they can lead to discomfort, disease and in extreme cases even death, so please be cautious and freeze your food.

Gerbils Care: Apple SEEDS...

Apple SEEDS are poison to gerbils, not the apple.. they enjoy apple, it's just the seeds. Don't give them the core to the apple.

Gerbils Care: Gerbil's Need to Ware Down Their Teeth...

Don't let gerbils teeth get to long.

Gerbil's teeth are constantly growing, just like humans nails or hair keeps growing! Therefore Gerbil teeth need to be worn down, don't worry, this isn't hard!

An easy way to keep your gerbil's teeth short is to just give them things to chew on, chew balls, chew sticks, toys designed for gerbils and or cardboard. Things like cereal boxes, paper board, TP tubes are great for gerbils to chew on!

NOTE: Gerbils do NOT eat cardboard or chew toys, they simply chew on them, cardboard is no substitute for food.

Sometimes gerbils will enjoy sticks, you can most likely find some in your yard. Gerbils also like to climb, so getting to longer sticks for them to chew and climb would be great! After getting some sticks from the backyard make sure they do not have thorns or are not poison to you, chances are if it's poison to you it's poison to them. Then take them to your kitchen sink or whatever and just wash them off, in clean warm water, noting else, no cleaning products or boiling just wash them off in warm water.

Gerbils Care: Playing With Gerbils

Gerbils (being friendly animals) like to be handled and played with!

Gerbils are very social animals and should be kept in a main room of the house, so they can see what you're doing, this will help them keep entertained active and healthy.

Our Gerbils love to be in the living room where they watch us eat, play, type on the computers or just walk through, this keeps them entertained... being entertained keeps them happy, and a happy Gerbil is a Healthy Gerbil!

Gerbil toys are fun, but sometimes can get expressive. I recommend using house hold items as toys, paper tubes, boxes, branches from outside, clean, unscented paper towels, or other paper they can chew.

Note: Do NOT give them newspaper, the inks they use are unhealthy for gerbils.

Bleached paper is ok, (bleached paper being white paper) but brown unbleached paper is best!

Gerbils will love to tear apart the paper and carry it places in their mouths, make nests and and hide outs!

Gerbils Care: Gerbils, what do they feel like?

Ever wonder if your Gerbil is scared or happy, content, feels safe? Gerbils display a way humans can identify with their feelings without, well, speaking Gerbil!

When Gerbils feel scared the will stand on their back legs with their front paws crossed or gripping each other.

When Gerbils feel curious they will stand on their back feet and hold their paws in front of them, loosely, and will often sniff the air or look around.

When gerbils are feeling relaxed and safe, and only when they feel safe, they will take a bath, if your Gerbil is never taking a bath it's most likely it's

  • *Too loud

    *Too Open, or in a direct area that gets too many people

    *need time to locate to it's new location, or home.

Gerbils Care: Gerbil Bedding

"what kind of bedding should you use for gerbils?"

Gerbil bedding is actually an easy subject!

I recommend using brown paper bedding, or just using cardboard!

Not only is cardboard good to ware down gerbils teeth, gerbils also chew it apart to make beds, or known as nests. The will chew their own bedding within a day or two if they are happy.

If you would rather use store bought bedding make sure you use paper bedding. Other beddings are nowhere near as comfortable and some other beddings such as pine and cedar wood beddings are toxic to the gerbils.

Other beddings like sand bedding are not good either as the small grains of sand will get in your gerbil's eyes and cause them discomfort or even blindness.

I Recommend These Gerbil Bedding Products - Here are the products I use for my gerbils.

Gerbils Care: Space and Size

Another thing that makes Gerbils such a great pets for us is our lack of space, Gerbils at full grown,

(are full grown by 6 months old) are approximately 7-10 inches long, including the tail.

A good Gerbil Cage size would be 13"L x 11"W x 10"H. This is a standard size Cage, can hold from 1- 3 Gerbils if you are keeping multiples. Most "All in One" cages at the pet store are this size, they will often say on the box perfect size for Hamsters and Gerbils!

But the bigger the cage you can get them the happier they will be, we have our gerbil's in a 3 story cage. Just remember when choosing a cage to make sure the bars are close enough together the gerbils cannot escape through the bars.

Gerbils Care: Cage Cleaning

"How To Clean A Gerbil's Cage"

Cage Cleaning.

1. First off you will need a container to move your gerbils to before you start cleaning. A bin with tall sides, that wont tip over, remember not to put them in a container that is airtight. Once you have your gerbils in a new place for the moment and they are safe you may continue.

2. Take the base of the cage and remove all toys, houses, food dishes water bottles EVERYTHING.

3. Dump out the bottom of the cage, remove all the beding from the floor and other shelves of the cage. If the bottom (or any other part of the cage) looks bad, smell bad make sure you wash it out with warm , clean water, do Not use cleaning products, these will shorten the life span of your gerbil by almost half or the normal time and some times can kill the gerbil within days of use.

4. Wash all the food dishes, water bottles, toys and houses, if you are giving them cardboard this is the time to just throw it all out, it's done and dirty, take everything out and clean it completely.

5. After everything is washed, cleaned and dried you may put back together the little gerbil's cage.

6. Now you can put your gerbils back in their newly cleaned cage!

Gerbils Care: Keep Your Gerbils Active...

Try rearranging things in your Gerbil's cage after cleaning, move the food to another place change where the water bottle hangs, or just exchange or move around toys. This will keep your gerbil excited and active, and they will feel the need to keep exploring and become more intelligent as a result.

Reader Feedback 37 comments

KimGiancaterino profile image

KimGiancaterino 7 years ago

Gerbils are so cute... I love to watch them play and nap at the pet store. Nice lens!

Kit-Kitty profile image

Kit-Kitty 7 years ago Author

[in reply to KimGiancaterino] Thank you!

tdove 7 years ago

Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

anonymous 7 years ago

This site really helped me out a lot! Thank-you for making it!

Kit-Kitty profile image

Kit-Kitty 7 years ago Author

Thank you for all your nice comments!

anonymous 7 years ago

can u give them note paper

anonymous 7 years ago

can they hav notw book paper [in reply to Kit-Kitty]

Kit-Kitty profile image

Kit-Kitty 7 years ago Author

[in reply to me] The answer to: Can Gerbils Eat Notebook paper? is Yes, If you want to read more, or learn more about giving gerbils paper please read the blog post!

anonymous 7 years ago

my gerbil , templeton, never really eats his food. he just burys it. is that nomal ?

anonymous 7 years ago


You should always get gerbils in pairs if you can, so long as they are from the same litter and are of the same gender (so you don't end up with hundreds of little ones). They are extremely social and enjoy a companion more often than not. They will be more outgoing, active, and may even live longer if they have a friend of their own species. If you go to the pet store and there are multiple gerbils together in a cage, odds are that they get along well enough that they didn't have to be separated (ask an associate just in case). Plus, they are soooo cute when they use each other for pillows.


If you get a wheel for them to run on, make sure it's not one with straight bars as their tail can get caught and broken. The criss-cross ones that look like chicken wire are the best!

Kit-Kitty profile image

Kit-Kitty 7 years ago Author

haleyy, your gerbil may be eating while you are not watching it. Gerbils are nocturnal animals, which means they may eat a lot more at night then they do the day. however if the food you give your gerbil is not going down at all you will want to check for two things:

1. make sure that there is food left, this sounds strange but sometimes gerbils put back the husks without the seeds and empty pieces of thing like corn, so it looks like their bowl is still full but it's not, just dump out the waste and refill.

2. If you gerbil is still not eating but is active then the don't sound sick but you may want to try a different brand of food, they may not like the food you are giving them. Also try putting in a washed piece of lettuce or celery.. they should enjoy that! And if they are not eating that will keep them healthy until you find food they like.

If your gerbil is not active& not eating check for sign of illness, like red or watery eyes, dirty fur. you should take them to the vet.

Kit-Kitty profile image

Kit-Kitty 7 years ago Author

Very good points, Bri.. I should update this with some more current information like you have mentioned!

anonymous 6 years ago

My gerbil is eating his toes on one foot and bleeding quite bad. He seams ok other than that. I have 2 gerbils together, both 2 and a half years old. Why is he doing this?

Kit-Kitty profile image

Kit-Kitty 6 years ago Author

Hi Gail, Your gerbil sounds like it may have a little bug that may or may not be visible to you called mites. If it's fur is rough or dirty that's most likely it. I suggest you give it a bath in nice warm water then dry them right away. Here's how:

Take a clean dish and fill it with about 1-2 inches of warm clean water, take a little bit of approved pet shampoo for rodent and rub it all over the gerbils fur, don't get it in their eyes or mouth or nose, now rise the gerbil and continues scubing in the dish of water, just don't let their eyes, nose or mouth go under the water and be careful of their ears! Now dry them off and completely clean their cage. Repeat several times over the week.

Hynes 6 years ago

our gerbil seams seams depresed since her sister died. he has chewed on her toes till they bleed then she seams to wait till they heal some them she she chews on them againg. Should we be conered? This behaviour makes me nurvious. Cynthia

mythphile profile image

mythphile 6 years ago from California

I had a couple gerbils when I was a kid: Bell and Dee, short for Dum (named by my mother -- oh gosh, I JUST NOW REALIZED THE PUN!)

Unfortunately Dum always managed to pop the lid off the tank and get into the baseboard heater.

We gave them to my first grade. I'm afraid I really wasn't very good at caring for them. Grandma thought they'd be a nice gift, but really, one needs to think carefully about giving small animals to children as pets.

anonymous 6 years ago

I just noticed that my Gerbil has been limping when he is trying to get around. He doesn't want to put any weight on one of his front paws. He still uses the paw to eat, play, chew, and dig though. I contacted my vet but they are closed today. They are also the only vet in town who know anything about gerbils. Should I be worried about it or do you think he will be okay because he can still do things with it and he just chooses to not use it as much for walking/hopping. We (my husband and I) are not sure if this has happened recently or if he has had it all his little life as we can't feel a break on the leg at all. He has suffered a recent slip and fall from about 3 feet, but he was running around fine as if nothing was wrong after.

anonymous 5 years ago

@Hynes: ur gerbil is most likely depressed they have feelings same as us and ur gerbil is morning the loss of his/her sister it is a concern what she is doing to her feet im not sure what to make of this i recommend you call your local vet im sure they have some solutions for this but call asap this is serious and could become infected

anonymous 5 years ago

i have a gerbil name cody i need to ask a question?do gerbils have feelings for people?

Kit-Kitty profile image

Kit-Kitty 5 years ago Author

@anonymous: I can't tell you for sure but I think that they do... if you treat a gerbil right it will like you more then if you don't.

cinstress profile image

cinstress 5 years ago

great lens, we have gerbils too

they are fun to watch

good food ideas, thanks for the tips

philipbonde 5 years ago

One of the most cute thing i see in the pets is their littleness and cuteness..Gerbils are one of them ..Gerbil care is informative post for the pet lovers .. i surely wan to follow these instructions..gerbil-cages

anonymous 5 years ago

i love girbils i have 2 of them and i love them 2 bits and this info will help me a lot thank you

anonymous 5 years ago

@anonymous: Yes, they do. My two little girl gerbils will wake up and come to the front of their cage at the sound of my voice - they don't do that for anyone else. If you're kind to your gerbil, it will know you, and love you. If it begins to gently groom your face/fingers that is truly a sign of affection, because it is treating you as it would a family member.

TransplantedSoul profile image

TransplantedSoul 4 years ago

Gerbils are cool little animals. They have such personality. I had one growing up, and for our kids we have had 4 rats (2 at a time). Now have 2 cats, 2 dogs and a rabbit. They all get along well. Thanks for the write-up.

anonymous 4 years ago

My gerbil keeps bumping into things and getting nose bleeds. Is she blind? Please help. Thanks.

Kit-Kitty profile image

Kit-Kitty 4 years ago Author

@anonymous: Rebecca, I don't think I can answer that. If her eyes seem to be covered, or cloudy she might be. I suggest you take her to the vet.

anonymous 4 years ago

My girlfriend just bought a gerbil from a pet store, but the guy in the store gave her a small hamster cage, will this be ok for the gerbil or should we take the cage back?

Kit-Kitty profile image

Kit-Kitty 4 years ago Author

@anonymous: As long as the cage is cleaned out well at least once a month, and the gerbil is not getting stuck, the cage should be fine. If it is plastic, make sure the gerbil has chew toys, or it may chew through the cage, that's my only warning.

anonymous 4 years ago

i read your information and found it excellent. you answered a lot of questions we had. we have 9 gerbils. all well over the 2 year age. thanks for the info

anonymous 4 years ago

I have a question kind of? I cleand my gerbils cage and I feel like they are mad at me. They didn't build there nest where it was before and when ever i put shavings in that spot they move them away from that area? Is there anything to worry about? or are they just being goofs

Kit-Kitty profile image

Kit-Kitty 4 years ago Author

@anonymous: Hey Sonya! I don't think they are mad at you. Gerbils will often move their bed around the cage every time you clean it. Some of them will build it in thee same spot though. Neither is something to worry about. I think they keep moving it because they don't want it there anymore, that's okay.

anonymous 4 years ago

I was do u give them a bath? Do they bathe themselves?

Kit-Kitty profile image

Kit-Kitty 4 years ago Author

@anonymous: Hey Nora, your gerbils will bathe themselves. Not a good idea to try to do it for them. If you have to clean them, because they got into something that would hurt them, carefully wrap the gerbil in a towel and hod it still while using a warm, damp cloth to bathe the gerbil, don't press too hard with either hand, they are so delicate!

anonymous 4 years ago

@Kit-Kitty: Sand baths also work really well, once a week or so is great. It's healthy for a gerbil's fur.

anonymous 3 years ago

@anonymous: Hahah, actually we occasionally give them sand and / or dust baths. Gerbils that live single have trouble reaching parts of their back and need a rub-down every month or so. Dust and sand most enjoy, just make sure not to get it in their eyes. But water? Good luck! ;)

anonymous 3 years ago

Gerbils are very social animals if you have a lone gerbil it can get lonely and sometimes get sick. I am a gerbil breeder of 20 years now and i really like this site i just thought you might like to know that.

(please let it be known i am not trying to rudely judge this site.)

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