If you make a wrong decision in buying the cage, it may adversely affect its life. If the cage is very small, your pet gerbil won't have enough space. On the other hand, it's alright if you get a cage that's larger than required, as that will only give your pet more space to play and move around.
Different Types of Gerbil Cages
One of the most popular options is the glass aquarium. They are cheap compared to other gerbil cages and are easy to clean. You can observe their activities clearly and, more importantly, your pet won't be able to chew it. If you choose this option, you will require a wire or mesh lid to cover it. However, you will have to make sure that it provides enough air circulation without letting them out.
The second option is of a wire cage. Wire cages are excellent if you want to connect cages and construct multiple cage units. On the downside, there is a possibility that your pet may make the area around the cage messy. Moreover, you need to ensure that you choose a cage that has bars close to each other, so that the gerbil does not escape or get its tail or foot caught in the spaces between the bars. Ideally the space between bars should be ½ inch.
You also have the option of going for a plastic cage. These cages come in attractive shapes, sizes, and colors. However, they provide very little ventilation. Besides, there are chances that the gerbil will chew the cage thereby making holes between the bars. Also, there are chances that your gerbil may injure its nose or leg by getting stuck in the plastic cage.
Regardless of which of these cage types you opt for, extra care and attention must be paid to keep these cages clean, or else, they will emit foul odor.
Size of the Cage
While you choose a cage, it's important to remember that gerbils are social animals. You must provide them enough room so that they can run around, burrow, and enjoy themselves. You can remember the rule: a space of 5 gallons for each gerbil as recommended by the American Gerbil Society.
If you think of a bigger cage, that's a great idea, but make sure that you would be able to keep it clean and maintain it properly. Cage extensions are necessary if you want to buy more gerbils over time. You can extend the cage simply by buying a new one, or actually extend it by adding a couple of slabs to it.
To set up a cage for your gerbil, you will require toys, shredded paper, etc. You need to get a large enough cage; preferably of a minimum 12 x 24 inches (for two gerbils). For more gerbils, you will need to have more space. Once you have got that, you need to get a tightly fitted mesh cover which is required for good ventilation.
A thick layer of aspen shaving, preferably of 2 inches, or paper pulp is required to provide bedding for your pet. A water bottle with a metal sprout should also be provided, so as to provide your pet with enough water to drink. Make sure that you use a food dish made of ceramic; it won't be easily tipped.
You also need to add a nest house, preferably made of wood or ceramic, but never plastic, as plastic can be chewed into bits and in the process, the gerbil can injure itself. Add things like stable rocks, ramps, ladders, and stable chunks of wood for the gerbil to climb and play around. Make sure to add something for the gerbil to chew. Things like hay, cardboard, branches, toilet paper tubes, etc., are things that your pet gerbil prefer.
It is important to ensure that you equip your pet's cage with all the important necessities. A water dish should always be kept handy, so that your pet can quench its thirst whenever it wants. Just make sure that it is always filled and the water is regularly changed.
You also need to include a sand bath and nest box filled with playground sand or chinchilla dust bath. These will provide your gerbil with space for nesting, bathing, and secreting waste. Gerbil's have a desire to chew anything they find and so, its important for you to provide toys so that they don't go on a chewing spree. It can be injurious to their health.
Gerbils by nature are social animals and live in groups. However, they are highly territorial and compete fiercely against each other, especially if they are not introduced to each other properly. This is where cage dividers come into play. Dividers are used to introduce a new gerbil to an old one. Once you have a new gerbil, you can't keep it in the same cage as the old one.
You have to buy a new cage or make a partition in the cage, so that both of them can live harmoniously and get used to each other. When you keep them separate, you give them a chance to see each other, get acclimatized to each other's scent and behavior, and in the process live harmoniously. After a certain period, you can get rid of the divider and let both your pets live together.
Cleaning the Cage
It's a delightful experience to own a gerbil, but you should also take care of its dwelling and keep it clean. If you have one or two, it's OK to clean the cage once a week or once every two weeks, but if you have more than that, it's better to clean it more often. If you don't clean the cage, it is bound to stink.
- Take out your gerbils from the cage and place them in a protected place. A good idea is to place them in a playpen or running ball.
- Keep some of their old bedding so that you can use them later. This is important as it will help them re-adapt, as they will get the same scent after cleaning.
- Once you have removed the bedding, you can clean the cage with warm water and soap. Make sure that you rinse it well till the smell is gone. Vinegar water can be used for cleaning if the smell refuses to go.
- Dry the cage completely using a paper towels or towel.
- Once it has dried, add the bedding you have kept aside along with some fresh bedding and nesting material, water, food, and toys to the cage.
Make sure that you regularly clean the cage, so that your pets remain healthy. If ever you think of getting new gerbils, make it a point to keep each of them in separate enclosures, lest they are likely to fight and end up injuring each other.