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There are a couple of options available to you for gerbil bedding. While the branded ones last long and control odor well, DIY (do it yourself) bedding needs to be replaced frequently. Do not worry, the whole process is much easier than it sounds.
How to Keep Gerbil Bedding and Cage Clean
You should routinely clean the gerbil bedding and cage. A dirty environment can stink up the place and cause your gerbil to fall ill with diseases or infection. Good cage and bedding maintenance will keep your gerbils in a good mood and promote longevity.
Before you begin the cleaning process, take out your gerbil or gerbils from the cage and secure them in another area. Do not leave your pet inside the cage during the cleaning. Cleaning supplies have chemicals which can harm your tiny pet.
A good temporary place to keep your gerbil is in a decent-sized bucket. Your gerbil will not be able to climb over it and escape. To keep it entertained, invest in a running ball. While you replace the gerbil bedding and clean the cage, your gerbil can keep itself busy by playing with the running ball. In case your pet shows signs of distress in the bucket, do not panic. Place something familiar from the gerbil cage (like a toy or feeding dish) into the bucket with the gerbil. This will provide some comfort to your pet, who otherwise might think it is in an unfamiliar and dangerous place.
With the gerbil safe outside the cage, it is now time to begin cleaning.
Step 1 – Empty the Cage
Remove all articles from the cage like toys, litter box, bedding and water bottle or dish. If the bedding is past its shelf life, discard it. Do not wash the toys, feeding dish and water bottle with the same soap you use for the cage. Wash them separately later with a milder soap. The soap used for cleaning cages is much stronger and can harm the internal organs of a gerbil if ingested.
Also, throw away the litter from the litter box before you begin cleaning the cage. Add new litter to it. As a habit, try to replace the litter at least once a week or more frequently if you have multiple gerbils.
Step 2 – Clean the Cage
To clean the cage, you will need – soap, lukewarm water, a soft cloth and some paper towels. You do not need to invest in special formulas or equipment. But make sure that the soap is free from ammonia as it can harm the gerbil.
Now wash the gerbil cage with soap and water. Use a soft cloth to clean the cage. Continue cleaning till all the stains are gone and there is no odor left. Next, rinse the cage thoroughly, ensuring that no soap remains on the surface. Finally, dry the cage using paper towels. Leave the cage out to dry naturally.
Step 3 – Maintain the Bedding
Throw away the old bedding. in case you bought a branded gerbil bedding, check the box label if you can continue using it. Never use cedar chips as bedding as they are toxic to gerbils. For DIY bedding use a mix of different materials like Aspen wood chips, newspapers, cardboard shreds and tissue papers. Again, make sure you change the bedding every week.
Once your cage is dry, you can place all the elements back in the cage.
Important Things to Consider for Gerbil Bedding
Source – https://pixabay.com/photos/gerbil-mouse-gray-straw-2680789/
Rest is important to gerbils, similar to any other living organism. When your pet gerbil has slept well, it will be happier, more enthusiastic and lead a much healthier life. One of the best things you can do to ensure your gerbil is well-rested is by maintaining and cleaning the gerbil bedding.
Types of Gerbil Bedding
There are a couple of options available when it comes to gerbil bedding. You can buy commercial bedding from pet store, or make your own using simple items available at home.
Gerbil bedding available in stores are generally made up of recycled paper fiber. They last longer than DIY (Do it yourself) or a makeshift bedding. Most brands offer desirable features like a soft and fluffy texture, dust-free properties and burrowing capabilities. Many of them are also super absorbent so that your gerbil pet remains warm and dry for longer durations. They can also withhold any bad odor from stinking up the place for up to 10 days. After that, they may have to be replaced. If you want to buy gerbil bedding from the pet store, go for the ones which are biodegradable. You can compost them after use and not add to waste and pollution.
If you are looking for store-bought alternatives, cardboard shreds are a good option. Due to their dry nature, shredded cardboard are highly absorbent and provide warmth to the gerbils. Your gerbil can even burrow into it. To extract cardboard shreds, use any used toilet paper roll, aluminum foil roll or delivery boxes. Just ensure that there is no toxic ink coated on the cardboard surface. This can be hazardous for your little pet. It is important to note that, DIY gerbil bedding should not only be composed of cardboard shreds. You should mix in some other materials as well.
Discarded newspapers are cheap and easily accessible. You may have a pile of them at your house. Newspapers efficiently serve both as bedding material and the bedding base. Paper is a good absorbent of water and will soak the gerbil’s urine before it drips down from the cage onto your floor. Gerbils can easily burrow through the paper and find warmth. When choosing the right newspaper, make sure that it uses non-poisonous ink. Gerbils like to chew things. Ingesting toxic ink can cost them their life. Also, you may have to change the newspaper shreds and base frequently as the paper is fragile and limited in its ability to retain fluids.
Aspen Wood Chips
This item on the list is not available in everyone’s home. But they are a good option. Aspen wood chips are dry and absorb water well. They are even safe for gerbils. If your little pet chews and swallows a little of these chips, there is no need to worry. To get the most out of Aspen wood chips, mix them with non-toxic cardboard shreds or paper clippings.
There is a slight difference between newspapers and regular paper. To begin with, you can be assured that most papers will not have ink in them which can seriously harm a gerbil. They are crisp, easy to burrow into and absorb water decently well. Try to go for an assortment of different types of paper. You can mix together a batch of tissue papers, printing papers, napkins and toilet papers. Ensure that the papers are not scented as strong fragrances can irritate a gerbil. This is one of the most economical DIY gerbil bedding.
Markers of a Clean Gerbil Bedding
To ensure maximum comfort to your pet gerbil, check if your gerbil bedding meets certain standards for cleanliness. These markers will tell you if your gerbil bedding is clean enough to prevent infections and diseases.
1. Bedding Should be Safe
Gerbils chew most things they come into contact with. It is their way to perceive the world around them and make sense of it. So, ensure that the materials used in gerbil bedding are completely non-toxic and safe for consumption.
2. Bedding Should be Odor-free
When you have more than one gerbil inside a single cage, things can get messy rather quickly. Soon, your entire room will reek of urine and excreta if you do not ensure regular maintenance. If you are using DIY gerbil bedding, replace the materials frequently. Store-bought bedding usually comes with odor-cancelling properties which control the smell for a couple of days.
3. Bedding Should be Absorbent
Gerbils prefer a dry environment. Therefore, make sure that the gerbil bedding is highly absorbent. This will save your time as well, because you will not have to change it frequently. Absorbent bedding also locks in odor and allows your pet gerbil to rest more comfortably.
4. Bedding Should be Dust-free
As tiny as your gerbil pet is, its nose and lungs are even tinier. Too much dust in and around the bedding can lead to respiratory and breathing issues in your pet. The gerbil bedding should take special care of this so that it does not accumulate too much dust.
5. Bedding Should be Comfortable
A gerbil can spend most of its time sleeping in its bed. So keep their bedding as comfortable as possible. Remember, gerbils like to burrow in and sleep. So ensure that the gerbil bedding material accommodates for this habit.
6. Bedding Should be Environmental Friendly
Whether you purchase your gerbil bedding from the store or make it yourself, the truth is you will be replacing it frequently. It is important that you do not create a lot of waste due to this. As a responsible citizen, use environmental friendly materials that you can easily discard. They should be biodegradable so that you do not add more to the world’s problem of pollution.