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Gerbil Care

By: April Metroulas

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Exercise and Play

Gerbils are very active and love to play. They need plenty of entertainment and exercise to keep them healthy and alert.

Every gerbil should have a metal exercise wheel to keep him mentally and physically fit. Gerbils have both day and night activity cycles, but tend to be most active at night, so it's a good idea to get a good quality exercise wheel that won't make a lot of noise.

Wooden toys and clean, natural branches will help keep your gerbils' ever growing incisors short. A new toy every day is ideal. Cardboard boxes and paper towel rolls are excellent inexpensive toys, and make great hiding places. Gerbils also love to climb; platforms and branches in the cage make for great fun.

Grooming and Medical Concerns

As a result of desert living, gerbils have special cells that store water. Because of this, they produce very little urine; therefore, they are virtually odorless. They groom themselves; no bathing is required. Daily removal of soiled bedding and discarded food is recommended.

The agouti, or brown mixed, hair coat is the most common, although other colors are available. Your gerbils' hair coat should be clean, not oily or flaky. His or her eyes should be clear with a black or red color. If the hair coat is oily or flaky, you may want to evaluate your pets' diet. Some health problems in gerbils are due to diet and husbandry problems.

Between 20 percent and 50 percent of all pet gerbils have the seizure disorder epilepsy. This is thought to be genetic. These gerbils should not be bred.

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