Safe Food for Gerbils
Apples (without seeds)
Small dog biscuits (meatless)
Caring for a Gerbil
Origin: Africa, Asia, the Middle East
Lifespan: 3-4 years
Unlike hamsters, gerbils are active during both day and night. Their bold and curious personalities make them entertaining family pets. It is best to pick two gerbils of the same sex, preferably littermates, as they are very social and will not thrive alone. With proper care, gerbils will be lively companions.
By allowing your new gerbils to eat from your hand and by avoiding any sudden movements, you will soon win their trust. When gerbils become comfortable sitting on your hand, begin to lift them up to sit on your arm or shoulder. All children must be supervised during handling and taught to never pick up a gerbil by the tail. If you have other pets, never leave them alone in the same room; accidents happen!
A 10 gallon aquarium with a well-ventilated lid makes a suitable home for a gerbil pair. A pine bedding will make a comfortable habitat when combined with such toys as a wheel, a house, and a tunnel. Gerbils love to make nests, so providing fluffy bedding will enable them to build to their heart's content. They are also avid chewers, so it is extremely important to provide them with cardboard or chew blocks - if you don't they will chew plastic things to bits!
A healthy diet is based on gerbil dry food (square meal) available at all times, and a small amount of seeds. Treats can be offered to your gerbil once a week. Remember to supply fresh water in a water bottle daily.
Spot clean the soiled areas of the cage a minimum of 3-5 times a week. Scrub out the entire cage weekly, as well as food dishes and water bottles. Always rinse and dry the cage well before adding fresh bedding.
Learn what is normal for your pet, so if you notice changes in their behavior, diet, teeth length, or droppings, you can get them the veterinary care they need. Signs that your gerbil needs urgent care include not eating or drinking; lethargy; sneezing or wheezing; crusty or runny eyes/nose; wet, dirty, patchy fur; loose stool or diarrhea; limping; cuts, or bumps.
Gerbil teeth are continuously growing, so chewable surfaces are important to maintain proper tooth length.
Chinchilla dust baths can be used once a week to help promote a healthy-looking coat.
Gerbils tend to be sensitive to high humidity.
Cedar shavings can cause fatal illnesses to gerbils, such as respiratory infections, and should never be used. Never grab or hold a gerbil by the tail, as this can cause serious injury and result in falls.