How To Clean A Gerbil Cage


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Are you a proud parent of furry gerbil? If so, you’re probably wondering how to clean a gerbil cage? This is not an exciting activity, but a necessary one at that. Keeping a clean living environment is vital to your gerbil’s health. Cages that are not cleaned regularly will smell. In addition, gerbils often mark their territory using their scent glands. Over time, this will increase the odor.

Luckily, cleaning a gerbil cage is not difficult. It is similar to clean a rabbit or hamster cage. The steps are more or less the same. If this is your first time as a small pet owner, be sure to read the entire blog for helpful tips on how to clean a gerbil cage.

What do you need to clean a gerbil cage?

To thoroughly cleanse a gerbil’s cage, you need to use products that can remove odors and sanitize at the same time. However, be careful not to apply any product that can harm your pet’s health. Disinfectants and cleansers often have strong chemicals and scents that can mask scent trails and cause undue stress. For instance, inhaling ammonia may lead to eye irritation and respiration issues in rodents.

Select products that are not heavily perfumed and are safe for gerbils such as:

  • Mild dish washing soap
  • White vinegar
  • Cage cleaning products designed for pets

Other cleaning accessories:

  • Water bottle brush
  • Non-Abrasive sponge
  • Small tub
  • Small enclosure
  • Paper towels

Where should you clean the accessories and cage?

To ensure hygiene and safety, opt to clean the cage and related accessories in an area where your food preparation does not occur. This means not in your kitchen sink. The sink in your laundry room is just fine. If not, the bathroom sink is a good place as well. In addition, use a different bucket to clean your gerbil’s items.

How to clean a gerbil cage?

Traditional gerbil cages are available in various models. However, they are cleaned in the same way. Here’s how to get started with the cleaning.

1. Place your pet in a safe place.

Put your gerbil in a temporary closure. Ensure it is a safe place that will enable your pet to breathe and move around. Keep in mind, it may take up to thirty minutes to clean the cage. This should be an enclosure that is difficult for the gerbil to gnaw or burrow through. It must have adequate water, food, ventilation, and bedding, so that the gerbil stays comfortable.

2. Remove the accessories.

Take out all the accessories and place them on a flat surface. Do this step before removing the bedding. Take each accessory and clean it thoroughly. Use a cleaning wipe and disinfectant spray safe for gerbils. Bacteria and germs accumulate on the accessories very quickly. It is vital that you thoroughly clean all items.

3. Remove the bedding.

After removing the accessories and cleaning them, safely take out the bedding. Empty the contents into a compost bin. Ensure every bit of bedding is removed.

4. Thoroughly clean the cage.

Use a gentle scrub to clean and disinfect the cage. If you don’t have a gerbil safe disinfectant, use mild dish soap. Once done, wipe dry with a cloth. Pay close attention to the sides and corners. Ensure the cage wires, floors, roof, and cage handle are cleaned as well. Leave it to dry under the fan for a few minutes.

5. Fill with fresh bedding.

Once you are sure the cage is dry, fill up the enclosure with new bedding. Add enough so that the gerbil can burrow itself. Ensure you don’t fill less than six inches.

6. Put back the accessories.

One by one, replace all the accessories in the cage. Position the water bottle correctly. The exercise wheel should be attached properly.

7. Refill the accessories.

Place fresh gerbil food in the food bowl. Fill up the bottle with fresh and clean water. Check the bottle once so that it’s not blocked. Gently run your finger across the metal ball. You should feel water on your fingertip. In case you don’t feel any water, there is a blockage somewhere. You must replace the bottle immediately. Remember, your fur baby cannot drink until you do!

8. Put your fur babies back into the cage.

Wash your hands thoroughly. Dry them well before picking up your gerbil and putting it back into the cage. Do this step slowly and carefully. Your pet might find its fresh smelling cage very stressful. This is because it cannot recognize its scent (thanks to the disinfectants you used). In addition, all its burrowing tunnels are gone.

To make the transition smoother, it can help to leave some old bedding. Just ensure it’s not soiled. This will have some of the gerbil’s scent and it will help them re-adjust.

9. Leave them alone.

Once your gerbil is in its home, leave it be. For your tiny pet, its world has changed. This will make them uneasy and disconcerted. Step back and let them run around. Once you see it sitting and eating calmly, feel free to interact with it again.

Additional Tips

In the next step of how to clean a gerbil cage, you need to pay attention to the accessories.

Water bottles and food bowls

You may clean these in two ways- dishwasher or hand wash. If the gerbil’s food bowl is dishwasher safe, place it in the dishwasher. Keep this separate from your dishes.

To hand wash the bowl, use a mild dish soap. Rinse it thoroughly and wipe it dry with a paper towel.

To clean the water bottle, use a brush meant for bottles. Don’t forget to rinse out the bottle’s nozzle. Check to make sure the nozzle is working well. Otherwise, your gerbil may go thirsty.

Rocks and other features

Rocks and other gerbil cage features must be cleaned with a warm soapy solution. Then rinse them thoroughly with clean water. Dry them well before placing it back into the cage.


To thoroughly clean the branches, wash them with soap and water. Then place them in a heated oven. The temperature must be around 225°F. Keep the branches here for up to two hours. Check every few minutes to ensure they are not burning. The heat kills the microbes and bacteria on the branches. After two hours, remove the branches and allow them to cool. Put them back into the cage once cooled.

Now that you are very familiar with how to clean a gerbil cage, we will impart additional helpful tricks and tips to make cleaning a little easier and faster.

1) Put a few paper towel sheets under the bedding. Every day, you will remove a lot of soiled bedding from the cage. Some of this material will fall through to the bottom and some will stick to the edges. To make removal of soiled bedding easy, place some paper towels beforehand.

2) Purchase two sets of water bottles and food bowls. While the first set is cleaned, you may use the second set. In case one set gets damaged in the dishwasher, you can always count on your backup.

3) Put some old bedding in the temporary enclosure. When you remove your gerbil and place it in the enclosure, it will feel stressed. Having familiar bedding nearby will help your gerbil calm down. The scent from the old bedding will give it a feeling of familiarity. Over time, your gerbil will get used to the cage cleaning process.

4) Avoid cleaning the cage if your gerbil is pregnant, had babies, or is sick. Gerbils get stressed and anxious very easily. Cleaning the cage can quickly stress it out. This is increased if the gerbil is expecting, has a new litter, or is not feeling well. Keep a close eye on your gerbil when you are cleaning.

The easiest way to prevent a smelly cage is to spot clean the cage daily and remove uneaten food. Spot cleaning means that you take away leftover food in the cage and clean the top layer of the substrate (bedding) when you notice feces or urine. You can do so by removing that part of the bedding.

Spot cleaning your gerbil’s cage


To prevent foul smells and a dirty cage, always spot clean your gerbil’s cage. Always remove uneaten food. Never leave it around for the entire day. If you notice urine and feces in the bedding, try to remove these safely.

After everything is cleaned and replaced, slowly place your gerbil back into its cage. Step away and observe your pet. Look for signs of stress. Is your gerbil eating and drinking normally? Is it burrowing and digging tunnels? Once your gerbil returns to its cage, it will likely start sniffing around the new bedding. Then, it will begin to dig new tunnels and scent mark the whole cage. This behavior is normal. While your gerbil is doing this, avoid reaching into the cage and touching your gerbil. This will stress out your gerbil even more. Simply step back and give your pet some time.

Don’t forget to clean the temporary enclosure as well. Use the same cleaning procedures as you did for cleaning the gerbil cage.

Knowing how to clean a gerbil cage is vital to its health and well-being. However, the process must be carried out carefully so that it doesn’t stress out the gerbil.

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