Adopting a small Pet – all you need to know about Gerbils
Gerbils are active, fun and social animals. They do need to live in groups for safety and warmth and therefore should be housed as “same-sex” pairs or groups in a cage. But they need to know each other. If you put 2 Gerbils together that are unacquainted, they will fight and often fight to the death will follow. So choosing Gerbils from the same litter and same gender, to avoid excessive breeding, is the best option.
Gerbils should be housed in a glass tank with a wire top. Wooden or plastic cages can be easily chewed, allowing the Gerbils to escape. Gerbils are desert animals, and they like to dig. A lot! Fine sand is the best bedding for them. They are well adapted to water conservation, and they pass only a small drop of urine, usually in one corner of the cage. Daily scooping out that corner will keep the cage clean and odour free. Once a week or more often, depending on how many Gerbils you have, you will need to clean the cage completely. They need grass hay or wood shavings to be able to make a sleeping nest. Do not use cotton as they can swallow it, which can cause an obstruction to develop in their intestine, which can be deadly. Because Gerbils can chew through almost everything, it is best to use ceramic bowls for food and water.
Being active and always busy with something makes them very enjoyable to watch. Gerbils love to play with paper roll tubes or small cardboard boxes, so put these in the cage and let the fun begin. They sleep in intervals of 1-2 hours during the day and night. You can tame Gerbils with patience and consistency. Sunflower seeds are a favorite food, and these can be used as treats to train them and gain their trust. When picking up a Gerbil, you should scoop them with your hand or use a cup to scoop them gently. They should never be picked up by the tail as the tail is very fragile. Gerbils can jump, and are quite fast, so be careful when handling them or when cleaning the cage. Young children should always be supervised when handling these species. If Gerbils feel threatened, they can bite, so it is important to teach your child of the correct way of holding and handling them.
There are many commercial brands of food available for Gerbils. Their food consists of seeds, cereals, millet wheat, and oats. Mealworms, crickets and alfalfa hay can be given as additional protein in their diet. Fruits and veggies like carrots, cucumber, celery, apple, banana, and raisins can be given occasionally. Do not give citrus fruits and lettuce.