You can fill your gerbil’s home with wood-shavings and leave it at that. It would, however, be a very boring habitat, both for your gerbil and you. There are literally hundreds of different rodent toys in the pet shop. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of a number of popular gerbil articles:
There are countless sorts of gerbil houses on sale, but most are made of plastic and will be gnawed to destruction within a very short time. Apart from that, most are too small. There are roomier versions, made of wood, which are more suitable for gerbils although they will also gnaw at these. You can also use stone or glass pot. An empty package, such as a Cornflakes box, will also make a comfortable home. The gerbils will gnaw their out own door and windows. Once the house has been gnawed to destruction, you can replace it cheaply by a new one.
Opinions vary on the usefulness of a wheel. Some people insist that these provide plenty of recreation for a gerbil. That’s surely true, but on the other hand a wheel does force the animal into monotonous activity that may result in psychological disturbances. The fact is that gerbils would rather dig than run. When offered the change to dig and shred, for example in wood-shavings and with empty toilet rolls, they will not often use the wheel. If you do want to buy a wheel, choose a safe model with a solid running surface. This prevents your gerbil from becoming caught or losing its tail.
Gerbil houses, tunnels and balls made of straw have appeared on the market in recent years. These products are made of woven straw and hay held together by wire. These are idea toys for gerbils! The can climb and tunnel in and around them and gnaw at the straw and hay. After a while the straw houses is finished with and you just need to take the wire skeleton out of the cage.
If you’re not keen on ready-made plastic objects, you can fit out your gerbil’s home really nicely with rocks and branches, giving it a pretty natural look. Make sure that the gerbils cannot easily reach the lid of the cage via the branches. Some gerbils love to gnaw at the bars for hours at a time, which can cause a dreadful noise, and make their noses sore. Also make sure that the branches are clean and no poisonous. Pruning from fruit trees that have not been sprayed should be safe.
The best place
Take care when picking the place to put your gerbil cage. Places where big temperature differences can occur, such as near an oven or radiator is not suitable, nor is windowsill that is sometimes in full sunlight. Gerbils prefer a temperature of 20 to 24 Celsius. Although they are desert animals, they do not like extreme temperatures. In the wild, they withdraw into their burrows at the hottest times of the day. They do not have a chance to do this in a glass contained standing in full sunshine. The garage or shed is also not suitable. You cannot see your pet, and the whole idea is that you should enjoy its presence. It is also too dark, too quite and often draughty. Gerbils can cope with a temperature of 15 Celsius, as long as they have plenty of dry nesting material. Once it gets colder, there is a risk of hypothermia. Gerbils like to party, but living permanently on top of a loudspeaker is too much of a good thing. Preferably place the cage in the living room, out of the sun, away from droughts and, where possible, off the ground on a (low) cupboard or table. The cage has to be closed securely, so that small children and other pets cannot open it.