Gerbils love to burrow and, of course, to sleep. It’s up to you to provide them with the best materials, but the choices aren’t easy. Here’s what you need to know to create a fun and cozy environment for your pet.
The Best For Burrowing
The problem with peat and straw is that it can be difficult to get the consistency right. If the materials are too damp, they get dusty and can give the gerbils chest complaints or fungal infections. Leftover seeds may also begin to sprout. If the bedding is too dry, the gerbils’ burrows collapse. Being the expert diggers that they are, they can usually burrow their way out, but this may not be the case with any babies caught in the burrows. Peat and straw can also stain the gerbils’ coats, a problem if you show your gerbils.
Your choice of materials may depend on where and how you keep your gerbils. If you want to show them, it is best to avoid materials that will stain them. If you want them to burrow you need a material like wood shavings or peat. If you are worried about irritating your gerbil, avoid sawdust. It may be a good idea to combine the advantages of two or more types of bedding. For example, you could place a barrier or bricks or tiles across one end or a corner of a tank and place sand in the enclosed area for the gerbils to dust bathe and groom their coats, then in the rest of the tank place wood shavings to allow them to burrow safely.
If your gerbils show signs of trouble, a sore nose with a red discharge or a red discharge from the eye, try an alternative bedding. Even changing from one brand of wood shavings to another can make a difference.
Many products are sold for small animal nesting material. These range from paper strips to woolly cellulose fibers. You can also give gerbils hay for nesting. Unfortunately, none of these is ideal.
Gerbils, especially young gerbils, have been known to lose limbs when they have gotten tangled in paper strips. For this reason you should never give your gerbil any fibrous material including cotton wool or pieces of cloth. The only exception is burlap, which can be used safely. The fluffy bedding material often sold in pet shops has been implicated in intestinal disorders in hamsters so should be avoided. While hay can make a good warm nesting material it can stain the gerbil’s coat. More, it is often a source of parasites such as mites, or fungal infections such as ringworm.
Experienced gerbil keepers know that none of these products beats a simple and cheap alternative – toilet tissue. Give a few sheets of toilet tissue to your gerbil and in no time it will have chewed and fluffed it up into an incredibly warm, soft, and safe nest.