The Mongolian gerbil or Mongolian jird is a small rodent belonging to the subfamily Gerbillinae. This gerbil is a pet happily playing with straw balls in his aquarium.

How to Best Care for your Gerbils

How to Best Care for your Gerbils

Gerbils live in colonies in the wild. They are very social animals requiring at least one same-sex friend. Littermates do well together. Never put two strange gerbils together without going through an introduction process. They will fight. Introductions will need two weeks of exposure time, and two cages to facility safety.

A three member gerbil family. All from he same litter, making easy socializing in their new aquarium home filled with hay.
Being social, gerbils are friendly and agreeable to gentle handling. Treats and positive reinforcement speed up the process. A kind voice, and daily time spent with your gerbil will result in a friend eager to see you. Never pick up a gerbil by, tug on, or catch them by their tail; this will cause permanent and painful injuries.

A gerbil being handfed treats in his next box.
Glass aquariums with mesh lids provide all the safety a gerbil could want. The bigger the aquarium the better. Figure twenty gallons for each gerbil. An aquarium allows thick piling of bedding so the gerbils can burrow and tunnel. A secure mesh lid is necessary to prevent escapes and to allow for good ventilation. They do not hold up to the chewing habits do not provide adequate ventilation, nor do they clean well.

7 Things to put in your gerbil's aquarium home:

  1. A nest box or hide out. Wood, or woven tunnels are a great option. Wicker Baskets give them chewing construction to do and can be replaced. Fill their hide out with bedding, sticks, small hay balls, and the like.
  2. Materials and structures for climbing. Thick pieces of wood, stable rocks, ladders, thick branches, and logs. Cardboard boxes with cutout windows are a big hit.
  3. Toys for chewing and hoarding should always be available. Wood, orchard grass mats and balls, branches, hay logs, wooden parrot toys, foraging cardboard boxes filled with treats, grasses, sticks and the like. Paper towel rolls are a favorite recycled toy.
  4. Bedding. Avoid cedar, aspen, and pine shavings for health reasons. Recycled paper bedding, straw, hay, and orchard grasses are an excellent option. Mixing all these together will give your bedding the ability to create structural tunnels. A 50/50 of recycled paper and hay at four inches deep is a good starting point. Your gerbils will show you what they enjoy and what isn't working.
  5. Water Bottle. Have fresh clean water always available.
  6. Food bowl(s). A kibble bowl and second bowl for treats and fresh daily foods. Vegetables are always welcomed.

2 Helpful books to have on Gerbil Care.

  1. Consider Giggle's Guidebook for clear and hilarious insights.
  2. An even more thorough guide is Gerbils Complete Care.
Young gerbil adventuring in his cage.

    Nest Box materials found at pet stores are something to avoid. Processes used to make them look clean and pretty to you, are dangerous to them. Stick with hay, grasses, and recycled paper bedding.

    Spot clean their home once in the morning and before bed by pulling out all wet and soiled bedding. Uneaten fresh foods and rejected nest box bedding. Gerbils are fastidious and will use one area for their messes. Consider a small litter box in the corner they ultimately prefer. If you a vigilant with this type of twice daily cleaning, you will only need to clean the aquarium itself once or twice a month.

    Companion pet gerbil choosing a grape from a bowl of fruit on top of a table.
    Three gerbils will provide a great colony for them, and a 60-gallon tank will provide the length and depth to create a carnival of gerbil fun. They are running, leaping, tunneling, humorous, and playful companion pets. The more options you provide, the more laughter they will give back to you.

    Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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