gerbils need in a cage

What do gerbils need in their cage?

As pet owners, it’s our responsibility to provide a suitable living environment for gerbils, ensuring they remain healthy and happy. Why is it essential to understand the needs of gerbils in their cage? Because the cage is their home, impacting the gerbils’ physical and mental well-being, as well as their relationship with us. Neglecting the basic requirements of gerbils in the cage can lead to stress, anxiety, boredom, or illness, which is detrimental to both the gerbils and us.

Here, I’ll cover the needs of gerbils in their cage, including the basic requirements, size and layout of the cage, activity and entertainment facilities, hiding and resting areas, cleanliness and hygiene, and social and communal needs. I hope this article helps you create an ideal cage for your gerbils, allowing them to enjoy their lives as pets.

Safe and Comfortable Environment

The safety and comfort of gerbils are our top priorities. We should choose a sturdy, durable, non-toxic, and smooth-edged cage, avoiding materials like glass, plastic, or metal, as these can potentially harm or suffocate gerbils. Ensuring that the cage doors and locks are secure prevents gerbils from escaping or being attacked by other animals. Providing an adequate amount of bedding material, such as wood shavings, tissues, or hay, allows them to dig, nest, and stay warm. Avoid materials like cotton, sponge, or synthetic fibers, as they can pose serious health issues by entangling in gerbils’ teeth, claws, or digestive tract.

Sufficient Space to Meet Activity Needs

Gerbils are highly active animals, enjoying running around, exploring, and playing in their cages. Therefore, providing enough space is crucial to allow them freedom of movement without feeling crowded or suppressed. The size of the space depends on the number and breed of gerbils; generally, each gerbil needs a minimum of 30x30x30 centimeters of space. Larger breeds, like Mongolian gerbils, require at least 40x40x40 centimeters. If keeping multiple gerbils, increase the cage space accordingly to prevent conflicts or stress. Consider the gender of gerbils, as same-sex gerbils tend to get along better, while opposite-sex pairs can lead to overbreeding, causing overcrowding in the cage.

Proper Ventilation and Temperature Control

Gerbils are sensitive to temperature and humidity, requiring an environment with proper ventilation and temperature control to maintain their comfort and health. Choose a cage with sufficient vents or mesh to ensure proper air circulation, preventing the accumulation of odors or bacteria inside. Avoid placing the cage in direct sunlight, near heaters, or air conditioners, as this may cause heatstroke or colds in gerbils. Keep the cage temperature between 18-22 degrees Celsius and humidity between 40-60%, providing the most suitable conditions for gerbils. Regularly check the temperature and humidity of the cage, as well as the gerbils’ overall health. Take prompt action or consult a vet if any abnormalities are noticed.

Cage Partitioning and Design

The layout of the cage is another critical factor in determining the quality of gerbils’ lives. Properly partitioning and designing the internal space based on various gerbil needs is essential. Generally, the cage should have the following areas:

Activity and entertainment area
Hiding and resting area
Food and water area
Sand bath area
Elimination area
These areas should be separated but not hinder gerbils’ activities and interactions. Arrange the locations and sizes of these areas based on gerbils’ habits and preferences. For example, gerbils enjoy observing their surroundings from high places, so setting up platforms or bridges on the upper level of the cage allows them to climb up.

Gerbils also like to dig and hide in lower areas, so adding tunnels or shelters on the lower level allows them to burrow. Additionally, they prefer eating and sleeping in clean and quiet places, so design a corner with a food and water container and a comfortable nest for gerbils to enjoy their meals and rest. Gerbils also require regular sand baths to clean their fur, so set up a sand bath area with suitable sand in another corner, allowing them to maintain their hygiene and appearance.

Gerbils need a designated elimination area to excrete feces and urine, so place a litter box and easy-to-clean materials in the last corner of the cage. This setup helps gerbils maintain their health and cleanliness.

Avoiding Unsuitable Cage Types

When selecting the type of cage, avoid using unsuitable options that may pose risks or inconveniences to gerbils. For instance, steer clear of glass or plastic cages as they lack proper ventilation, leading gerbils to feel stuffy or deprived of oxygen.

Avoid metal cages as they have unstable temperatures, making gerbils feel either too hot or too cold. Stay away from cages with large gaps or openings, as gerbils’ paws or tails might get stuck or injured.

Also, avoid cages with excessive decorations or accessories, as these can potentially harm gerbils’ teeth or digestive tract. Refrain from using multi-level or tiered cages, as gerbils may fall or get lost. In summary, choose a simple, practical, safe, and comfortable cage type to ensure gerbils live happily and securely.

Provide Sand Baths and Appropriate Sand

Sand baths are a natural way for gerbils to clean and groom themselves, rolling in the sand to remove excess oil and dirt from their fur, keeping it dry and shiny. Therefore, offer gerbils a sand bath container and suitable sand for regular dust baths. Choose a fine, dry, and dust-free sand, such as chinchilla sand or desert sand, and avoid using moist or chemical-laden sands like cat litter or beach sand, as these may irritate or harm gerbils’ skin or respiratory system.

Regularly change the sand to keep it clean and fresh. Allow gerbils to enjoy a sand bath every day but avoid leaving them in the sand bath container overnight to prevent them from using it as an elimination or food area.

Appropriate Exercise Wheel and Exercise Facilities

An exercise wheel is a common piece of equipment for gerbils, allowing them to run and burn excess energy and calories, maintaining their physical health and agility. Therefore, provide a suitable exercise wheel that is the right size, smooth-surfaced, and seamless. Avoid using small, rough, or gapped wheels, as they may cause spinal curvature or injuries to gerbils.

Ensure the wheel is securely fixed and stable, preventing wobbling or falling. Regularly clean the wheel to maintain its cleanliness and safety. Allow gerbils to use the wheel daily but avoid forcing them to run, as this may cause stress or fatigue.

In addition to the exercise wheel, provide other exercise facilities, such as a spherical exercise cage or exercise ball, allowing gerbils to explore and move around outside the cage. These exercise facilities add stimulation and fun for gerbils, but be mindful of safety issues. Choose a transparent, hole-free, and non-toxic exercise cage or ball, avoiding options with holes, toxins, or fragility, as these may lead to gerbils escaping or getting injured.

Place exercise cages or balls in a safe, obstacle-free, and hazard-free

Tunnels, Bridges, and Climbing Structures

Tunnels, bridges, and climbing structures are some common entertainment facilities for gerbils. They provide opportunities for exploration and play, catering to the curiosity and adventurous spirit of gerbils. It’s crucial to provide safe, non-toxic, and durable materials like wood, plastic, or willow. Avoid using hazardous materials such as metal, glass, or ceramic, as they may cause scratches or injuries to gerbil skin or mouth.

Pay attention to the size and shape of tunnels, bridges, and climbing structures, ensuring they fit the gerbil’s body and activities. Avoid extremes in size or unnecessary twists and turns that might make gerbils uncomfortable or confused. Regularly inspect and clean these structures to maintain their integrity and cleanliness. Allow gerbils to use them daily, balancing interaction without causing fear or disturbance.

Ensure Adequate Hideouts and Shelters

Hideouts and shelters serve as natural defense mechanisms for gerbils, providing places to escape potential dangers or threats and rest. Provide sufficient hideouts and shelters made of safe, non-toxic, and comfortable materials like wood, cardboard, or ceramic. Avoid hazardous, toxic, or non-breathable materials such as metal, plastic, or glass, which can harm or suffocate gerbils.

Consider the size and shape of hideouts and shelters, ensuring they suit gerbil bodies and habits. Avoid extremes in size, too many entrances or exits, as these may make gerbils feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Regularly check and clean hideouts and shelters to keep them intact and clean. Allow gerbils daily access to these spaces, respecting their privacy and tranquility to prevent fear or dissatisfaction.

Provide a Quiet Resting Space

Gerbils follow a circadian rhythm, alternating between activity and rest. Provide a quiet resting space with soft, warm, and clean materials like cotton, towels, or blankets for gerbils to create a comfortable nest for sleeping and regaining energy.

Consider the location and size of nests, ensuring they suit gerbil bodies and habits. Avoid placing nests too close to the cage door or edges and extremes in size that may make gerbils feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Regularly check and clean nests to maintain cleanliness. Allow gerbils daily access to nests, balancing interaction without disturbing their rest and sleep to prevent fear or dissatisfaction.

Regularly Clean and Replace Bedding

Bedding materials play a vital role in maintaining cleanliness and hygiene in a gerbil’s cage. They absorb gerbil waste, food remnants, and water droplets. Clean and replace bedding regularly to keep the cage dry and clean.

Clean bedding daily, removing parts soiled with gerbil waste or other dirt, as well as clearing food remnants and water droplets. Replace bedding at least once a week, discarding or replacing all materials and thoroughly cleaning the cage’s interior and exterior.

Choose safe, non-toxic, absorbent, and dust-free bedding materials like wood shavings, tissues, or hay. Avoid hazardous, toxic, or non-absorbent bedding materials such as cotton, sponge, or synthetic fibers, which may entangle in gerbil teeth, claws, or intestines, leading to severe health issues.

Provide Clean Water and Food Containers

Water and food containers are essential for maintaining the cleanliness and quality of a gerbil’s diet. Offer clean, sturdy, durable, and non-toxic containers like ceramic, glass, or stainless steel. Avoid fragile, toxic, or hard-to-clean containers like plastic, metal, or wood, as these may be chewed or contain harmful substances.

Consider the size and shape of water and food containers, ensuring they fit gerbil bodies and habits. Avoid extremes in size or too many gaps or edges that may make gerbils uncomfortable or cause injuries. Regularly clean and replace water and food containers to keep them clean and fresh. Clean water and food containers daily, removing residues or dirt, and use soap or disinfectant to sanitize them weekly.

Provide Suitable Companions

To meet gerbils’ social and communal needs, offer suitable companions, typically other gerbils. Best companions are usually of the same gender, breed, similar age, and compatible personalities. Pay attention to factors like gender, breed, age, and temperament, as these can affect how well gerbils get along.

Allow gerbils time and space to adapt and bond, avoiding forced introductions. Be mindful of their adjustment and bonding process, giving them sufficient time to get acquainted and establish harmonious relationships.

Besides other gerbils, humans can also be companions. However, respect gerbil personalities and preferences, avoiding excessive handling or forcing interaction. Let gerbils choose the extent and manner of contact, preventing stress or fear. Pay attention to gerbil emotions and signals, stopping interaction immediately if signs of dissatisfaction or unhappiness are observed. In summary, respect and understand gerbils’ social and communal needs, providing suitable companions for them to enjoy their social lives in the cage.

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