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