Ask The Gerbils

Hallie and Smurf are happy to answer your questions about taking care of, playing with, taming, or getting to know your gerbils. However, if you have questions about breeding or gerbil babies, you should ask an experienced breeder, not Hallie and Smurf. For breeding questions, please see the American Gerbil Society or a site such as the Gerbil Breeding & Development page.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hi Hallie,

My gerbil Pip has lost loads of weight, and he won't eat even his favourite treat (sunflower seeds).

I have checked his teeth, and they seen fine to me except a tiny chip in one of his lower teeth.

He is 2 1/2 years old i have heard that gerbils live only for 3-5 years.



Hi Elle,

It sounds like Pip really isn’t feeling well. When a gerbil stops eating, something is wrong.

The best thing you can do is try to find a vet who treats gerbils. He or she will be able to examine Pip and find out if he has an infection that makes it hard to breath, if he has a stomach ache, etc.

Depending on what is wrong, the vet may be able to give Pip some medicine.

Good luck! I hope that you can get some help for Pip and that he starts feeling better!

Your friend,


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dear Smurf,

Our gerbils are really entergetic, and they love coming out of their cage. Since you are a gerbil yourself, I was wondering, are there any games that you like to play with your owner? If so, please tell me how to play them with my gerbils. Thanks!



Smurf the gerbilHi Kelly,

Thanks for writing to me! I’m so excited. This is the first question someone sent to me!

The types of games that you play with gerbils are different than the types of games you play with a pet like a dog, but we can still have a lot of fun with you!

With Halloween right around the corner, your gerbils would probably enjoy it if you made them a treat-filled Halloween ghost!

gerbils with a treat-filled ghostSoon, it will be winter, and then your gerbils can have fun making paper snowflakes!

Gobo and I love opening these homemade gerbil toys and finding treats inside!

If it’s okay with everyone in your home, you might also think about giving your gerbils some playtime in the tub.

We also love to play with wooden bird ladders and plain brown paper lunch sacks. The lunch sacks are especially fun!

I hope those ideas help!

Your buddy,


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hi Hallie

I just got two gerbils. They throw their bedding EVERYWHERE. They even end up covering up their food bowl.

Will they be able to find their food, or do I have to constantly uncover it? They are only seven weeks old.



Hi Megan,

Hallie the gerbilIt’s very normal for gerbils to rearrange their bedding, and it’s also very normal for us to cover our food bowls.

We like to bury our food, because it lets us hide it and keep it safe so that no one else takes it. Sometimes, we also like to bury our favorite toys, too.

Don’t worry. Your gerbils WILL be able to find their food, and you won’t have to uncover the food bowl for them. When they're hungry, they’ll dig through the bedding and get something to eat. :)

Your friend,


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dear Hallie,

The past few nights I've had lots of trouble sleeping with my gerbils in my room. I have one of those crittertrail cages with those plastic tubes, and they like to chew on them.

I have plenty of chew toys in their cage for them to chew on. I know its normal for them to want to chew on stuff, but is there any way to keep them quiet at night?

Should I cover their cage, or do you have any other suggestions for me? I'm hoping not to have to buy one of those glass tanks, because I prefer the crittertrail. Please help me!



Hi Riley,

Hallie the gerbilIt can be very difficult to keep your gerbils from making noise, especially if they’re chewing on plastic. But I do have a few suggestions.

You might try to give your gerbils a big handful of toilet paper sheets, paper towels, or Kleenex right before you go to bed. Make sure whatever you give them is plain white and does not have any lotions or perfumes.

Most gerbils will eagerly start shredding toilet paper sheets or paper towels when you put it in their home. This is a very quiet activity. You’ll just hear quiet little “rip, rip, rip!” sounds. And often, when gerbils are done shredding the toilet paper sheets or paper towels, they’ll carry the pieces they shredded back to their nest and take a nap. It’s worth a try!

The other thing you might do is feed your gerbils right before you go to bed instead of earlier in the day. That way, they’ll be busy eating snacks for a while instead of making noise.

One last thought: I know you really like your Crittertrail cage, but you might want to think about moving your gerbils into a tank. If your gerbils accidentally swallow any plastic, it can really hurt them, so if they’re really chewing on the plastic a lot, it might be safer for them to live in a glass tank. You’ll have to think about what you like about your gerbils’ current home and decide what type of home is the right one for you and your gerbils.

Thanks for writing! I hope your gerbils can find a quiet nighttime activity and let you get some rest! ;)

Your friend,

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dear Herman,

I do not have a gerbil, but I want one. Is it the right pet for me? Are they pretty easy to take care of? Do they bite hard and/or often?



Dear Laura,

Gerbils make great pets, but you do need to promise to take care of them for the rest of their lives before you adopt gerbils.

You will need to clean their tank by scooping out their old bedding and pouring new bedding into their tank. Most people clean their gerbils’ tanks once every two weeks.

You will also need to give them a small handful of food each day and check their water bottle every day. You should also give them a toilet paper tube or other cardboard to chew every day. Gerbils love to shred cardboard into tiny pieces!

You should also plan to spend some time playing with your gerbils every day. You might do this by putting your hand in their tank and letting them crawl on it, or by giving them hand-fed treats (sunflower seeds, Puffed Kashi cereal, plain Cheerios, etc.), or by taking them out of the tank to play in a bathtub or other safe area.

Most gerbils do not sit still in your hands. Instead, they will want to crawl from one hand to the other. Gerbils are very busy and very curious, and they don’t sit still for long. :)

Most gerbils do not bite. Especially if you handle them the right way.

I hope that helps! Thank you for writing to me!

From your buddy,


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hi Hallie,

My gerbil, Daffodil, is a sapphire and her nose is starting to look red. It is not runny, and she is happy and playful. I wondered if she might be allergic to the aspen bedding, or if this is her coloring as she is getting older. She is almost 2 months old. Her sister, Petal, is a burmese and is not having any problems with her nose.

Thanks for your help!



P.S. Do you have any tips for taking pictures of my gerbils?

Hi Claire!

It sounds like Daffodil may be allergic to her bedding. You might try putting Daffodil and Petal on a different type of bedding, such as corncob (found in the bird aisle of the pet store). You could also try putting them on plain, shredded paper towels (you will need a lot), but you will need to clean their tank more often if you use paper towels instead of bedding.

Try putting them on a different type of bedding, and see if Daffodil’s nose improves.

Most of the time, if a gerbil’s nose gets red, switching to a different type of bedding will fix the problem. :)

If it doesn’t, you may need to take Daffodil to the vet. One of the other gerbils at Twin Squeaks, Marco had a red nose when he first came to live here. His problem was not an allergy. It was an infection. The vet gave him some antibiotics, and his nose cleared up. It worked great, and his nose hasn’s been red since!

You also asked how to take better gerbil photos. We have a set of tips for taking better gerbil photos. I hope the tips help!

Please say hi to Daffodil and Petal from both Herman and me. We hope that Daffodil’s nose is better soon!

From your friend,


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hi Herman and Hallie!

I’m thinking about getting a gerbil. There is this cage at Petsmart that I would like to get, but I don’t know if it would be okay for two male gerbils.

The cage is in a pack called the Deluxe Gerbil and Hamster Cage kit. It is a wire cage and comes with a bag of gerbil/hamster feed and some toys.

Would a glass fish tank be better. If so, how big?

Also, is Carefresh Colors Confetti Odor Control pet bedding okay for gerbils?


- H.

Hi H.!

HallieThank you for your letter. You have so many great questions!

Although gerbils can live in either a cage or a glass tank, I prefer a glass tank.

You can give your gerbils a deeper layer of bedding if they live in a tank. (In a cage, the bedding will fall out through the bars if you fill it too high.)

Also, gerbils love to dig and tunnel under the bedding. In a cage, they will kick the bedding out through the bars.

Also, it’s harder for gerbils to escape from a glass tank with a secure lid, so they can stay safer in a glass tank.

You can also give your gerbils lots of fun toys if they live in a glass tank. In the picture to the left, you can see my sister Liza rearranging the bedding in our tank around cardboard boxes to make fun hiding places and tunnels.

In addition to a wheel, you can give your gerbils lots of cardboard boxes to chew (without worrying that they’ll kick little bits of shredded cardboard out onto your floor), and you can give them lots and lots of bedding so they can have fun digging in it!

If you get a fish tank for your gerbils, it should be no smaller than 10 gallons. We really need at least that much space. If you can get a larger tank, your gerbils will enjoy the extra space. :)

Finally, the Carefresh bedding should be okay. Just like people, though, gerbils have different allergies to different things, so if your gerbils get runny noses or have any other problems, you can try a different type of safe bedding, such as aspen or corncob, too.

From your friend,