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Gerbil Housing: Building Homes Out of Habitats

Home is where the heart is, and by putting a little extra love into your gerbil’s habitat, you could create something truly special and unique.

Creating the right habitat starts with the right home, so make sure your final choice is designed for small animals, or you can use a tank. No matter what housing you choose, make sure to provide your little one with a ceramic or wooden box to hide in or a cardboard tube or box.

Below are important points to consider when selecting from your gerbil housing options.

Size
Gerbils are very active and need plenty of space to run, climb and explore. Gerbils housed in enclosures that are too small can often become aggressive and temperamental. One or two gerbils require an area that measures at least 18 inches wide, 24 to 30 inches long and 12 inches high. They also do well in a 15 gallon tank (or larger).

Safety
As a pet parent, you will want to keep your gerbil safe.

  • Ensure your gerbil's habitat does not have any sharp edges.
  • Their habitat door or top should close firmly to make sure your gerbil can’t push it open and escape.
  • Doors should always open outward.
  • If you are using a tank with a screen cover or plastic top, make sure it fits snugly over the sides so your gerbil can't squeeze out.
  • If your gerbil's habitat is plastic, make sure that there are no exposed edges that they can chew into and escape.

Tanks
Although the only water your gerbil might see is inside of a bottle, tanks make great homes for gerbils. If you decide to use a tank as your gerbil's home, make sure you cover it securely with a screen cover or a ventilated plastic top designed specifically for this purpose. Today, most plastic covers have modifications to hold add-ons, such as tubes or hanging water bottles. An important side-note here is that you should never use a solid cover of any sort for a tank; ventilation becomes limited and condensation will start to form inside the tank.

Tanks have the advantage of being leak proof, so shavings and bedding stay nice and contained. But, the major disadvantage with tanks is that they are more difficult to clean than other habitat styles. When looking at proper equipment for a tank, freestanding exercise wheels are a usual favorite.

Modular habitats
Some habitats are designed to include a series of plastic tubes. Although these habitats are suitable for hamsters, gerbils can destroy them quickly. Tubes are fine for play; it’s just not recommended that you house a gerbil in such structures.

Small animal habitats
There are a variety of small animal habitats available to ensure your companion has just what it needs to live a long, happy life. Some habitats have a plastic base topped with a rigid snap-on wire cover, while others have both a plastic base and a plastic top. These habitats come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and sometimes come equipped with exercise wheels. These habitats are also affordable and customizable with various gerbil furnishings and toys. Although gerbils can live in wire habitats, this style is not usually recommended because gerbils are natural burrowers. The wire on these habitats can cause injury to their noses as they instinctively dig. Additionally, their tendency to dig will usually cause a lot of shavings to be thrown from the habitat.

Spinning your wheels is a good thing

Gerbils are the embodiment of energy, and when they don't get enough exercise, they can become obese and lethargic. Having the following equipment available when they arrive at your home can help make your little one less lazy and more lively.

Exercise wheels
Gerbils have a one-track mind when it comes to running on a wheel, so welcoming your little one home with this entertaining and beneficial piece of equipment is a great idea. When selecting an exercise wheel, safety is key. The safest exercise wheels available are ones that are enclosed and without open spaces between the wheel’s rungs. Gerbils have been known to catch or break their tails and delicate legs in wheels with open spaces, so proper care must be taken in selecting an appropriate wheel. Ask an associate in-store for help choosing the best supplies for your gerbil.

Wheels can be purchased separately and affixed to a habitat, or purchased as standalones. Many modern habitats also have safe exercise wheels already mounted inside of them, so that’s another option to consider when welcoming your little one home.

The appropriate exercise wheel size is usually around seven inches in diameter.

Runabouts
Today, there are many other exercise accessories available for your gerbil. Take a closer look at a few of the most popular options below.

Exercise balls
These are plastic see-through gerbil balls that come apart, and by placing your gerbil inside of the ball, they can run freely around your home. Supervision is strongly suggested when using these toys if dogs and cats or small children are in the house and because gerbils have been known to roll their balls down flights of stairs when unsupervised. Also, make sure your gerbil's ball is well-ventilated so they don't become overheated.

Racing cars
These runabouts are miniature cars that operate on gerbil power. An enclosed ball or wheel mechanism is found within the car, and your gerbil simply needs to run along to get things going. Kids love these types of runabouts, but just like exercise balls, supervision is strongly suggested when using these toys.

Tunnels and more
A jailbreak would be no problem for a gerbil; these little guys love to chew and tunnel. Toys such as towers, platforms, ladders, slides and spinners provide great running and climbing exercise options for your little furry one.