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Gerbils make great pets because they are small and don’t require much space. Gerbils are a great way to get young children to learn pet care and responsibility. Gerbils are active and like to play a lot. As a pet owner, it is important to get involved in their socialization. Signs of boredom include scratching at the floor and gnawing on the bars of their cage. Playing with them will alleviate boredom. You can also let them out of their crate to explore their immediate environment.
If you plan to get a gerbil, get two of them. Ensure that they are of the same sex – two boys or two girls. Gerbils are social animals and like having company. It doesn’t take much to keep them entertained and enhance their life. There are plenty of gerbil accessories to choose from – an exercise wheel, chew toys and many more.
Setting up for your pet gerbil
Gerbils are energetic and like to be stimulated. Having a gerbil friend will keep them busy by playing. The first thing to do is set up a cage. The bigger the cage, the more space you have to set up a bed and accessories to keep them busy. The first thing to do is to line the cage and then plan on what toys to get them. You can use straw, aspen shavings or even shredded paper for the bottom of the cage. There are plenty of toys and accessories to choose from at the pet store.
How to pick the right toys for your gerbil
Gerbils are very curious and active animals. Being rodents, they like to chew things. Keep this in mind when picking toys as some of them can cause harm. Gerbils like to poke their heads into spaces and get injured. If you give them plastic toys, remove them if you notice they have been chewed on. Cardboard is safer for them than plastic. The same is true for toys with strings and moving parts. Here is a list of gerbil accessories to invest in, so that your pet can enjoy hours of entertainment.
Toys and accessories for gerbils
Wheels: Gerbils and hamsters belong to the same family. Wheels are a great accessory as it offers exercise opportunities. When you shop for a wheel, make sure that it is well-made and has a solid wall in the back. A medium wheel should be big enough for them to hold their back and heads straight while they run.
Chew toys: Gerbils like to chew on things and do that in the wild. Give them cereal boxes or tubes from paper towel rolls. These are safe for them to play with. You can also find chubes and squeaky toys which are safe for them.
Paper bags: Paper bags are a fun toy for gerbils – they can hide in it and play in it with their friends. Paper is good shredding material as well. Once a gerbil is done playing with it, it can be used as a liner for the cage.
Wood houses: A small wood house like a birdhouse with multiple holes is a good toy for a gerbil. You can also choose from gerbil accessories like hollow logs, a ceramic or plant pot for a gerbil to play in. Small cardboard boxes are an alternative for playing and exploring. Wood houses last a while longer even if your gerbil gnaws at it. Be prepared to replace both a cardboard box and a wood house when they have been gnawed through.
Tunnels: A tunnel is a great activity accessory for a gerbil. It gives the gerbil opportunities to explore, run around and play hide-and-seek with its companion. Place the tunnel at an incline and offer the gerbils the opportunity to climb and run around.
Climbing equipment: Gerbil accessories also include wooden ladders and see-saws. Keep an eye on these for bite marks and replace as needed. Accessories made of PVS materials are a bit more resistant to biting. New accessories made from bamboo are now available and these are much tougher. Any ceramic accessory that you choose to buy and install in the gerbil cage is a good investment as they are indestructible.
Water bottles: Water bottles also listed on a gerbil accessories list. Fill fresh water every day so that they can stay hydrated. Hang the bottle properly and not too close to the bedding so that the water doesn’t drain out. Soggy bedding material can lead to mold growth which is not good for your pet. After filling up the bottle, check the tip to ensure that it is working properly and is not leaking.
Chew toys: Every gerbil’s teeth grow fast, and it is important for them to chew something hard. Gerbil friendly bones and sticks will help in ensuring that their teeth grow at a normal pace and not get out of control.
How to keep your pet gerbil happy
Gerbils are very social animals and make great pets. It is up to you as a pet owner to decide how much space you want to provide for them. It is a good idea to get a largish cage so that you can include a good number of accessories for exercise.
A 10-gallon tank is usually enough to keep two gerbils happy and have enough room to play and explore. Bedding material could include wood shavings of any kind, layered with hay or shredded paper. Ensure that the bedding materials have enough depth so that they can burrow.
Also place a fist sized rock in the enclosure so that it can be used as a perch.
Keep in mind that gerbils like to sleep in enclosed spaces. A small ceramic pot or a tube would make a cozy sleeping nook.
For food, you can buy a special formulation for your pet at the local store. Feed as per the instructions on the bag. You can put the food in a ceramic dish in the cage. Place the food containers separately if you have two gerbils. Once you have had your gerbils for a while and bonded well with them, you can feed them by hand. Gerbils like to eat seeds and the formulated mix will have the right seed size to prevent choking.
Besides the formulated mix, you can feed your gerbil rice crispies, apples and carrots. Limit the number of treats you give them to avoid health problems.
Caring for your pet
Gerbils in the wild like to keep their living space clean. Since they live in a crate or container in your home, you will have to clean their crate thoroughly once a week. Here’s what you can do to keep their environment clean.
1. Remove all items from the crate, including the gerbils.
2. Scrub the crate or container with soap and water.
3. Rinse and dry. Make sure the crate is completely dry before putting in new wood shavings and shredded paper.
4. Place the accessories in the crate and then put your pet(s) back in their little house.
What you should do daily is to remove old food and their droppings. Check to see if their bedding is dry and clean. Replace those parts which are soiled or damp.
Handle your gerbil gently as it is small and fragile. Let them get used to being handled by you. Gerbils have a heightened sense of smell. Wash your hands well before you pick them up. You can take them out of their cage and let them roam around a room. Keeping an eye on it will ensure that they don’t wander off and get lost in the house. You should take your pet to the vet regularly so that health issues can be treated properly. A well-cared for and healthy gerbil can live for up to 4 years.
Additional care tips
- If you find your gerbil digging in the bedding a lot, you may need to add more or replace with new bedding. Gerbils like a thick layer of bedding as it lets them do what their instincts dictate- burrowing.
- Don’t overfeed or give your gerbils too many treats. Too much food could cause stomach problems and health issues.
- You can put in toilet paper rolls in the crate for them to chew on. Shredded toilet paper adds another layer to the bedding material.
- Talk to your pet every day and spend some time interacting with them. Gerbils are social creatures and like interaction.
- As far as possible, avoid giving your pets flimsy plastic toys. They like to gnaw, and they could choke on plastic pieces.
- When you get a cage, make sure it is not made of plastic. They could gnaw their way of the cage and wander around the house.
Having a pet is great fun and relaxing. Gerbils are smaller than most animals and need to be handled with a little more care. If you are not sure on how to care for them or what gerbil accessories you need to buy, do some research online.