Smart Tips on How to Bathe a Gerbil


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Gerbils happen to be clean pets, which means they do not small. Also, you need to replace their bedding only once a month. According to studies, gerbils can identify one another through their urine scent. However, as they are originally from the desert, they do not pee frequently. It also means that their cages do not have a foul smell like many other animals.

On the other hand, they poop a lot and yet are very finicky about choosing their bathroom. Many gerbils opt for a single spot in the cage for relieving themselves. Usually, gerbils do not poop where they sleep or eat. They will also not poop in the tunnels dug by them.

Your pet gerbils would not get dirty very often. However, their fur can become oily from time to time. If that happens, gerbils clean themselves by bathing in sun. As a pet owner, you should ensure that its fur should always be healthy-looking, shiny, and sleek. In case the fur becomes oily or dirty, it should be given a bath. The uniqueness of a gerbil’s bath is it does not require water for bathing.

Gerbils clean themselves by sand baths that are also referred to as “dust baths.” Containers are filled with sand so that they can enjoy rolling around. The sand is useful for removing dirt from the fur, as well as, soaks up the extra oil. A water bath should be avoided at all costs as that could hurt or scare your gerbil. The article explains how to bathe a gerbil in detail and will come in handy for new gerbil owners.

How does a gerbil bathe?

Wild gerbils introduced an evolutionary method to clean themselves, which is known as sand bathing. They came up with this adaptation as water is scarce in the desert where puddles are rare to wash in. Gerbils roll themselves in the sand so that their fur is complete covered with sand to clean themselves. They will then shake off the extra sand, thus completing the bath.

You could be contemplating is there any other technique used by these animals to clean themselves or not. Gerbils also clean their bodies using their tongues. However, it is a trait, some of them show more than others. In case a gerbil is cleaning itself, it signifies its happiness and relaxing mood. It is also a common scene to find gerbils cleaning one another as a show of trust.

Setting up a sand bath for your gerbil

Sand baths for gerbils are fast and simple to set up. You have to simply get a container that can be used for their bath and use sand for filling it. There is also a need for a product to clean the container such as an antibacterial soap or a disinfectant spray.

Container options for gerbil’s sand bath

There are several options available for selecting a sand bath for your gerbil. As far as the material is concerned, you may use a container, which is made from ceramic, glass, or plastic. It is immaterial that material you are opting for.

However, be careful that your gerbil may chew up plastic. If you have plans of leaving the gerbil alone, it is recommended to opt for ceramic or glass containers.

While choosing a sand bath, make sure it is big enough for the gerbil. For instance, sand baths particularly designed for hamsters may be too small at times. The walls of the container should have enough height to stop sand from escaping.

Do not choose a container whose opening is too small. You should be able to clean it thoroughly if the opening is wide enough. Gerbils love rolling around in small pots filled with sand. The activity offers them a chance to clean their skin from dirt and scrub the fur.

Here is how you will fill your gerbil’s tub for its sand bath:

1. Buy appropriate pet-friendly sand

You will get sand for pet bathing at a pet supplies store in your locality. Chinchilla sand, for instance, is a good choice. Ensure you are not buying dust because that can cause respiratory issues to them.

2. Use a proper bowl for its sand bath

The bowl you buy should not tip over easily. A bowl with a flat base is recommended for the sand bath. It should not be over halfway full with sand.

3. Place the gerbil in the sand

Your gerbil should be gently placed into the sand. Do not drop sand over it as it will like to do that. Wriggling in the sand is one of their most enjoyable activities.

Some owners prefer to keep a sand bowl permanently inside their pet’s enclosure. It is to make sure that they take a bath whenever they feel like it. While most gerbils are ready for sand baths, some of them may show reluctance to get into it. So, it is better to figure out what your pet gerbil likes before purchasing a permanent sand bath container.

What kind of sand should be used for your gerbil’s bath?

You simply cannot use any kind of sand for bathing your gerbil. The sand that you purchase should be of good quality, filtered, and clean. Sand taken from a beach or builder’s sand is not suitable.

Select sand, which is particularly appropriate for animals. Also, make sure not to buy calcium sand. It is not the same as regular sand while also not being safe for your gerbils.

Play sand, which is particularly designed for kid’s sandboxes is another good alternative. The sand is of a high standard and is filtered. Stay away from the sand, which has been dyed. As mentioned earlier, you should not use sand for bathing them. For instance, bathing powder and bathing dust contain tiny particles that can cause health problems such as conjunctivitis and respiratory issues.

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Steps for sterilizing sand before bathing gerbils

Sand sold for kids; sandboxes and animals are normally safe and clean. However, you have to be still careful before using it for your gerbil’s sand bath. It is a sensible idea to sterilize the purchased sand before using it for their sand bath. Doing so can kill any bugs or bacteria, which could be present in it. Follow the below-mentioned steps for sterilizing sand for your gerbil:

· Put the sand into a big, watertight bowl.

· Pour a pot of boiled water onto the sand so that it is completely covered.

· Let the water sit for about 5 to 10 minutes. The sand should be then stirred to loosen dirt if any. Drain it completely after this.

· Use a baking sheet to spread this drained sand into a thin layer.

· The sand should be baked at 180 degrees Fahrenheit until fully dry. The process takes about half an hour.

Make sure the sand has cooled down properly before you use it for your gerbil’s sand bath.

How frequently should your gerbil require sand baths?

A majority of gerbils require sand baths about once a week. However, if the gerbil gets dirty more quickly, the sand bath can be given to it more often. For instance, darker and black-colored fur gets oily more quickly.

If you wish to give a sand bath to your gerbil, use clean sand to fill the container and put it in the enclosure. The gerbil will possibly come closer to check the new object. It will then climb in happily. When it realizes why the container has been placed, it would gladly start rolling around in the sand.

In case your gerbil shows reluctance to investigate the bath, it is better to encourage your pet. Gently pick it up and put it into the container. You may not have to supervise the gerbil while it enjoys the bath. However, you may stay close by if you want to. Keep the container for around 10-20 minutes in the enclosure. Then you may remove it for cleaning.

How to bath gerbil- Smart tips

1. Buy a tiny dish to be used as a bathtub for your gerbil- You might purchase a tiny dish like a cat dish online or from a pet store in your neighborhood. The container can be used as your pet’s bathtub. Make sure to choose one, which is without any sharp edges so that your gerbil is fully safe while enjoying its bath.

· Look for a dish, which can be fitted inside your gerbil tank

· The container should have a depth of over one inch or 2.54 cm

2. Purchase a bag full of chinchilla sand – As mentioned, make sure you are purchasing sand and not dust for your pet’s bath. You will find this variety of sand online or at the local pet store.

3. Fill the bathtub with half-inch or 1.27 cm of chinchilla sand- Your bathtub should be filled with enough sand so that the gerbil can bathe. Ideally, less than 50 percent of the bathtub should be filled with sand. It also means that the depth of the sand should not allow the gerbil to burrow. You simply require sufficient sand so that the gerbil can roll around, play, and rub itself. The dish should have a depth of more than one inch or 2.54 cm.

4. The bathtub should then be placed in the tank for around 10 minutes- Figure out an open spot in the tank to place the gerbils’ bathtub. Place the bathtub there and give around 10 minutes for your gerbil to enjoy its bath.

5. Your gerbil should take a bath every week- As gerbils are easily vulnerable to bacterial infections, you should give it a regular opportunity, weekly to be precise, to clean themselves.

Your gerbil can suffer from a particular health condition called a “sore nose in case it does not take a bath once every seven days. It is a type of bacterial infection that attacks their nasal glands. If you make it a habit that the gerbil takes a weekly bath, this condition can be prevented.

You may wish to keep the bath permanently inside the pet’s enclosure so that your gerbil can access it whenever it wants to. It is perfectly okay but you have to ensure that the bath remains clean. Also, make sure to remove any soiled sand or waste.


The coat of your gerbil can start looking drab after spending a long time burrowing itself in the compost. Gerbils are usually odorless pets. However, there is still a need to clean these creatures. Some pets have to be bathed in water to make them smell free and clean them. However, gerbils are from desert areas where there is an inadequate supply of water.

To give a shiny look to your gerbil’s coat, it should have a regular sand bath. As gerbils are a kind of desert species, they are used to use sand to clean themselves. You also learned how to bathe a gerbil and the frequency of their bath, which is once a week.

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