Gerbils make great pets for older children. They are very active and although relatively easy to handle, they are probably a little less docile than most hamsters. Unlike hamsters they are not nocturnal so can be up for play at any time of the day.
There are lots of things we can do to ensure we have happy gerbils.
- Give them space to cater for their wanderlust and inquisitive nature. Some people use glass aquariums because gerbils can chew cage bars and may also kick out their bedding which can be messy. Around 1 metre x 0.5 metre space should be allowed for a pair of gerbils to give them enough space and create an enriching environment.
- Gerbils tend to be active at any time of the day or night, although providing a nest area will allow them to sleep as they may have many naps throughout 24 hours.
- Gerbils like to burrow. Providing them with a deep layer of suitable bedding material will allow them to tunnel to their heart’s content. Paper-based options like Tiny Friends Farm Eco Bedding meet these needs perfectly. Highly absorbent and virtually dust-free, Eco Bedding is soft on paws too! Wood shavings can cause skin irritation and may increase the risk of respiratory illness so are best avoided.
- Gerbils like to climb and explore – so give them tunnels, platforms and lots of toys. Whether you choose to buy or go for some DIY enrichment, make sure that it’s safe for your pocket pal. Toys or tunnels made from untreated wood or cardboard are more suitable than plastic ones – it’s amazing what tiny teeth can nibble through! How about a simple cardboard tube for some burrowing fun?
- Introducing a new gerbil isn’t always easy and needs to be done with care.
- Consider providing food in different locations – it will make for a happy gerbil who has to spend time foraging to seek out a variety of food types.
- Don’t forget some wood to gnaw on – gerbils love a nibble! Apple and hazelnut branches are ideal
- Human companions can add a lot to a gerbil’s life. Small children may find gerbils hard to handle as they are so quick and active. An older child or adult will enjoy owning a gerbil and observing their behaviours which include foraging as a group, grooming each other, running, digging and taking sand baths.