Gerbil Care Guide

Posted on July 13, 2020


Gerbils should have a balanced diet made up from a basic pet shop gerbil mix. This can be supplemented with fresh items like tomatoes, carrots or grapes. Gerbils like to bury things so instead of a food bowl it is sometimes a better idea to simply spread some food around the tank to allow them to forage for their food.


Although gerbils live naturally in colonies, they can also be very territorial and hence fight. Therefore in the confined space of an aquarium it is probably best to keep a gerbil on its own. They are mainly nocturnal animals but do become active for short periods during the day. They live between three to five years. Gerbils are natural diggers and also like to jump and climb so are best kept in aquariums. A close fitting lid allowing good ventilation and security is essential. For bedding materials use shredded paper or hay. Do not use cotton wool, shredded J-cloths or similar materials as they can get caught around the feet and act like a snare causing great harm. A sandbox with 2-3 cm deep chinchilla sand for your gerbil to bath in each day is important to avoid skin problems. Additionally, toilet roll tubes make great play things for gerbils! The correct way to handle a gerbil is to hold the animal at the base of its tail, (nearest the body), between thumb and forefinger and then place it on the palm of your other hand for support. Do not pick up a gerbil by its tail without supporting the rest of its body as this will stress it and make it more likely to bite or injure itself. Because of this, gerbils may not be suitable pets for very young children. Handle your pet every day so it gets used to human contact.


Sexing gerbils is important if you do decide to keep more than one. Luckily it is quite easy and is a matter of judging the distance between the genital and the anus. This distance is greater in males so it is best to have at least two animals to compare and contrast before making your mind up. It is always advisable to have this checked out ASAP by a vet.


Gerbils’ incisor teeth grow throughout life, therefore it is important that an array of chewing toys is available to help wear the teeth down. You should check your gerbil’s front teeth from time to time to ensure they do not become overgrown and cause ulceration of the lips.


We hope that you will have lots of fun and pleasure from your gerbil over the coming years. We trust he or she will enjoy good health and to help achieve this we recommend a health review every year at your vets.

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