Advice on Gerbils

Gerbils live in groups in the wild so it's a good idea to have a pair living together. It's best to keep gerbils from the same litter together so that they don't fight, and males and females apart so they don't breed.


Food and Water

You can buy ready-made gerbil food, but also give them fresh fruit and vegetables for variety. Check that:

  • your gerbil can get to clean drinking water (a drip bottle is good, but make sure it doesn't get blocked)
  • you clear out old food and replace it
  • your gerbil has variety in its diet, it could become fat if it eats too many sunflower seeds



Gerbils are very active and need room to run and burrow. Some people keep gerbils in large fish tanks with sawdust or peat for them to tunnel in and wire mesh over the top so they can't escape. Try to make sure that:

  • the enclosure is airy enough without being drafty
  • your gerbil has a place to hide and build a nest
  • it has paper or card to shred into bedding (avoid nylon or cotton wool as this can be dangerous)
  • your gerbil is not kept near other pets like cats and dogs
  • there's nothing heavy in the enclosure that could fall and injure it
  • your gerbil has something to burrow in (avoid cedar and pine shavings which contain oils that might be bad for it)



Gerbils are curious and enjoy running through toilet roll tubes and in and out of boxes. They also like to dig. Try to make sure that:

  • whatever you give your gerbil doesn't have sharp edges
  • if your gerbil is out of its enclosure it can't get into holes or chew wires
  • if there's nowhere safe to exercise your gerbil you have another enclosure where it can run about for variety



If you handle your gerbil every day it should get used to you. Be careful that you don't damage your gerbil's tail when you handle it. To pick your gerbil up either:

  • make a cup with your hands and gently scoop it up
  • hold it at the base of the tail (the part nearest its body) supporting it under its tummy with the palm of your hand



It's important to clean your gerbil's enclosure and replace bedding and burrowing material. You need to clean your gerbil's enclosure every week. Remember to:

  • clean away old food
  • clean the water bottle
  • replace bedding



Check that:

  • your gerbil isn't itching a lot, it may have mites
  • your gerbil has something to gnaw to keep its teeth naturally worn