How To Properly Set Up A Gerbil House
Most people who find themselves setting up a gerbil house know absolutely nothing about these cute little creatures. It is an everyday occurrence in a pet store somewhere, that a parent goes in for dog food and comes out with a new gerbil because their child refused to leave without one.
Rest assured that these are fairly easy pets to take care of and the fact that they do not require a daily walk means that they won't consume any additional time out of your day. However, to ensure the animal's happiness and health, you must set your gerbil house up properly and with the right materials. They do not really need a lot of decorations but they do appreciate a generous amount of bedding that they can dig in.
Setting Up Your Enclosure
If you only have a single gerbil, you need a minimum of a 15-gallon tank, for a pair of gerbils, a 20 gallon tank should be the smallest consideration. It is always a good idea to buy two so that your pet never gets lonely. Keep in mind that if you can afford a larger tank, your gerbil will definitely appreciate the extra room.
Some people recommend using some type of cage with bars for a gerbil house. While this is also an excellent choice, you have to keep in mind that gerbils kick around their bedding which can fall through the bars and create more cleanup for you. Many people will purchase clear tunnels to put in their tank that gerbils seem to enjoy as well. Regardless of what type of enclosure you use, always keep it in a location that is away from drafts and out of direct sunlight.
Bedding And Accessories
Gerbils love to dig so make sure that they are provided with a large amount of bedding to bury themselves in. Recycled paper or aspen shavings are the top recommended choices. Always avoid pine and cedar shavings because the fumes from these choices can irritate the animal's nasal, lungs and throat passages.
Your gerbil house should also have a sleeping area. A clay flowerpot works well for this purpose or something sturdy and of similar size will be fine too. Never put cardboard or soft plastic in their enclosure, they will just simply chew these materials to pieces.
Gerbils need either tunnels to run through or an exercise wheel to run on. They should also be given one large, clean rock that they can either perch on or hide behind, depending on their mood.
It is very important that you keep your gerbil house clean. On average, you will need to do a thorough cleaning once a week. If you neglect to do this, the enclosure and your gerbil will smile and he will become unhappy and unhealthy.
To clean your pet's home, put the gerbil somewhere safe where you won't lose him and he won't get hurt. The bathtub is usually a good spot as long as you plug the drain.
While you do want to replace most of the bedding, keep a very small amount out to mix in with the new bedding. This way, your gerbil will recognize his scent when he is put back and this makes him feel more at home. To avoid wasting all of that soiled bedding every week, you can actually make fertilizer with it by mixing it with garden manure.
Use soapy water to clean the enclosure and rinse very well. It is always a good idea to rinse it with vinegar too just to make sure that no soap smell is left lingering. Dry thoroughly! Any dampness can cause mold or bacteria growth. The food dish and water bowl should be washed exactly the same way. Keep in mind that any soap residue left over is quite harmful to your pet so take the time to really rinse everything very well.