Just because the pet is small – doesn’t mean they belong in a small habitat.
You have to remember that gerbils love to chew and will taste everything they come in contact with. They are natural burrows and while they may not be the best of climbers they can build some amazing tunnels. In order to cater to their need of being under ground you will need an enclosure that can hold at least 6 – 8 inches of bedding. Because gerbils should always be kept in pairs you will need no less than a 20 gallon space for them. Of course if you can go bigger they would be much more happier and entertaining to watch. So lets look at all the options on market.
While glass tanks can be large and bulky and sometimes a bit expensive (unless you buy one second hand) they make the perfect enclosure to date. They may not be as well ventilated as say a wire cage but they still remain the safest option for gerbils. You will need to make sure to purchase one with a wire mesh lid as aquarium lids will not provide enough ventilation. Wire mesh lids are sold separately or you can also make your own. Glass tanks are deep and allow for the deeper bedding that gerbils require to burrow and tunnel. With having deeper bedding the best option I have found for hanging water bottles is with velcro. I also use command hooks attached to the glass for their silent spinner wheel so it is not sitting inside of the bedding. Make sure the tank is set up away from direct sunlight, heating and cooling vents as well as drafty rooms.
Minimum Size Per Gerbil Count:
- 10 gallon: 1 gerbil
- 20 gallons: 2 gerbils
- 30 gallons: 3 gerbils
- 40 gallons: 4 gerbils
I prefer 40 gallons for pairs and trios because it allows them extra space for tunnels, exploring and a bit of alone space if they need it. Having too many gerbils in a small space will cause fights but you can never provide too big of a space.
Wire cages are not deep enough to hold the bedding depth that a gerbil needs to burrow into. Bedding will be kicked out through the bars, creating a constant mess. A gerbil will also chew the plastic base as well as the bars causing the plastic coating to be ingested leading to blockages or punctures as well as injuries to their nose and teeth. Their toes, tails and other body parts can become wedged between the base and wire causing broken limbs and some cases amputations.
These are mostly all plastic cages with lots of colorful tubes. They look cool, however these dangerous for any animal. Plastic habitats are poorly ventilated. Being made of plastic gerbils will chew through them. No matter how secure it looks they can and they will. Plastic also stains and holds some nasty smells, not very hygienic. They offer little room for just one gerbil let alone a pair. Because of their multiple tubes that lead to different “rooms” gerbils are more likely to declan by claiming different territories.