Bringing a gerbil home is an exciting experience, but one that really requires some preparation. To give you a hand, we’ve created this list of things that you’ll need to prepare.
1. A cage
Your gerbils will need a place to live within your home - a gerbil cage placed somewhere nice and quiet. There are lots of different enclosures available, but whichever you choose, it will need to be large enough for your gerbils to run around and satisfy their burrowing instincts. For more advice on choosing a gerbil house, have a read of our Gerbil Cages section.
There are some basic things your pets need in order to be happy
When you bring your new pets home, it’s a good idea to buy some of the food that they’ve been eating for the last few weeks, whether they’ve been in a shop, with a breeder or at the sanctuary. Doing this means that you can gradually introduce their new food rather than swapping it to a novel one suddenly. Slowly changing their diet will help prevent stomach upsets and reduce the stresses that come with moving into a new home.
A well-made dry food should be the staple of your gerbils’ diets. They’ll be eating a lot of this throughout their lives, so it’s a really good idea to have some ready for when they move in. As you wean them off their previous food, you can start introducing the mix you intend on keeping them on.
All pets should have constant access to unlimited, clean, fresh water. For gerbils, this can be supplied through a special small mammal water bottle attached to the side of their cage. These come free with our Qute unit for gerbils and hamsters.
All gerbils need the company of a member of their own species in order to be happy. Gerbils live in family groups in the wild, and those kept in captivity need a friend to play with, nap with, and talk to.
One of the key things gerbils need is the company of their own species
Gerbils are extraordinarily good tunnellers. In the wild they need to create little burrows in order to survive the fluctuating temperatures of the arid environments they inhabit. They will need to be able to mimic this behaviour in captivity, so it’s really important that owners provide lots of the right kind of bedding for their gerbils. This will mean that the animals can satisfy their natural instinct to create tunnels and private little dens. For more information on good bedding options, and which ones experts recommend you avoid, have a look at our Gerbil Bedding page.
6. Grooming and Medical Equipment
It’s best to have some equipment on-hand for the first few weeks of gerbil ownership- a small, wide-toothed brush for occasionally combing your pets’ fur, and human nail clippers are good places to start. You may also want some scales for monitoring your pets’ health, as well as a sand bath to allow your pets to clean themselves. For more information on helping your pets stay clean, visit our Gerbil Hygiene section.
It's a good idea to have ready lots of the equipment your pets might need
Gerbils love toys - enrichment items make their lives more interesting. Pets need mental stimulation in order to be satisfied, so have a think about what their lives could be missing: do they have a puzzle or something that they can manipulate? This could be enjoyable for them.
8. Gnaws and Chews
A gerbil’s teeth grow constantly throughout their lives, and those in captivity often need a bit of help keeping their teeth a comfortable size. You can provide some assistance by offering them some special woods to chomp on. These items will help your pets wear their teeth down as and when they need to. Overgrown teeth can be a real problem for rodents, and it will likely save you money in the long run, as they may require veterinary treatment if their teeth grow too long.