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Gerbil Bedding Options

There are lots of different options for gerbil bedding. Supplying your gerbils with the bedding they need is an important part of gerbil ownership - it allows your pets to keep warm and to satisfy their natural burrowing instincts. Below we’ve listed the options recommended by experts and welfare organisations, and those that are warned against.

 Gerbil bedding options
It might be a good idea to try some different types of bedding before settling one one option

When you’re considering different materials, it’s important to note that the drier the bedding, the more difficult it will be for your pets to build stable tunnels - very dry bedding will just cave in on them.

Good Bedding Options

Hay - hay is an excellent bedding option for gerbils as it is easy to dig tunnels through, as well as being a natural bedding. If you would like to use hay in your gerbil enclosure, we recommend freezing it for forty-eight hours, to kill off any pests and parasites that could be lurking in there. Just be sure to defrost it thoroughly, and let it dry off properly before you use it in your gerbil’s enclosure - you don’t want them to catch a chill! It’s good to note that hay isn’t that absorbent, so it is best used in combination with another bedding material, such as carefresh.

Carefresh or cardboard shavings - this is soft, cozy bedding that is great for tunnelling. It’s digestible, and won’t cause any problems by tangling up your pet.

Shredded paper- as long as paper lacks any sort of ink, shredded paper can be a good choice if you need a cheap, temporary option. However, owners report that this particular material causes smell to build up quite quickly.

different bedding types
Bedding is really important to gerbils - they'll sleep in it, tunnel in it, and spend a lot of time playing with it

Bad Bedding Options

Whilst the above options are excellent materials for lining your gerbils’ cage, those below have been shown to be actively harmful, and so we strongly advise against using them in your pet’s enclosure, no matter how briefly.

Pine and cedar bedding are terrible bedding options - they cause respiratory problems in gerbils as they break apart into tiny pieces and can be easily breathed in. These materials are especially poor choices for young gerbils who are more susceptible to its problems.

Newspaper- the inks and dyes used in creating newspapers are harmful to your pets if they eat or lick any, and in the process of making their tunnels and nests they will certainly chew and reshape their bedding material with their paws.

Fluffy bedding - this is made of long, thin fibres that can cause issues if your gerbil tries to ingest it. Especially bad options are those that include a section on the packaging that warns that it’s indigestible - this isn’t a good idea when these animals would naturally nibble their bedding material. Another potential hazard is that your gerbil will become entangled in it. Since it’s made of individual fibres, gerbils can get their feet caught in it, a scenario that can easily lead to a broken leg as your stressed pet tries to struggle free.

Customer Images


Countrygirl, 14 June 2022

I use a thin layer of sand at the bottom of their cage, then I use 5 to 6 inches of peat so they can tunnel. I add hay and also soft shredded paper. They have a sand bath as well and wooden and cardboard toys. Lots of food and treats and water. We have the Omlet cage with storage which they seem to love!

Cheryl, 4 July 2019

I raised gerbils back years ago and I used aspen wood for bedding. Never had a bit of problem with the adults or the babies. I looked up care for gerbils and it recommended a span bedding. Does anyone actually know what to use.

Sandra, 23 June 2019

Darryal, whenever you plan to have a pet, it's wise to seek all available information about your pet to be. Thinking without the commercial information, you can notice that Gerbils, being a desert animal, doesn't have pine shavings in their natural habitat, because pine trives in moisture which is harmful to Gerbils by causing skin fungi and respiratory issues. Paper, like Carefresh or cardboard also can cause the above issues, because they are destined to soak moisture or give dust. Ideal bedding for gerbils is a pan filled with sand on the bottom and then hay and sheets of untreated cardboard to chew. You can include Carefresh if you spend enough time with your gerbils to notice changes in behavior (pain) and/or respiratory issues, bleeding ears/tilted head, porphyrin on the nose (easily mistaken for bloody nose) or high pitch when startled. Simply put, if you want to check if they are allergic to it. Regards, owner of 3 gerbils allergic to paper and Carefresh.

Darryal, 14 March 2019

My bedding is pine and the bag says it's great for all pets but the website says it's bad bedding so what should i do