Gerbils love to dig and are excellent chewers! They therefore require a sturdy enclosure that can hold deep substrate for burrowing, so a tank set-up is really the only option. Hamster cages are not suitable as the bases can be chewed through and they do not provide enough depth for burrowing. You will need at least 8 inches of substrate in your tank for optimum digging potential!
We recommend a pair of gerbils should be housed in a tank at least 100cm l x 50cm w x 40cm h. The floor space of the tank is important as well as the depth, so aim for at least 5000cm2 with a height of at least 40cm, ideally with a cage topper added to the top of the tank. It is worth looking on second hand selling sites for large fish tanks which you can then make a lid/topper for. The IKEA Detolf glass cabinet is another good option.
Standard pet shop sawdust and woodshavings are not recommended as these can cause respiratory issues. Paper, cardboard, hemp, aspen or dust-extracted kiln-dried pine shavings such as Pureflake Extra are suitable alternatives. We have found that mixing in dust extracted meadow hay with cardboard or paper based bedding holds tunnels well. Gerbils need at least 8 inches of substrate to provide sufficient burrowing depth!
Gerbils should be fed around 1 tbsp each of a good quality food mix, scattered across their substrate, once a day. Scatter feeding encourages their natural foraging behaviour.
The food mix should be supplemented with fresh veggies a few times a week, and you can feed the odd mealworm once or twice a week too. We also provide dried herbs and flowers as treats.
Gerbils are intelligent and active rodents, whose main aim is to dig and burrow! Providing sufficient burrowing space with at least 8 inches of substrate is therefore your starting point for enrichment.
Anything within your gerbils set-up needs to be safe if chewed, so plastic is a no-no. Go for cardboard and wooden/natural toys and accessories instead. If you choose to include a wheel, choose a wooden one with a diameter of 28cm.
Gerbils will enjoy a sandbath – we use glass cookie jars for this and encourage you to provide one.