Setting Up a Gerbil Cage
If you are planning to keep pet gerbils, you will need a gerbil cage. However, setting one up can be hard for a novice. What follows should give you everything you need to know to set up a great cage for your gerbils, without making any easily avoidable mistakes that will make you or your pets unhappy. With a little bit of work, you will have a great cage for your gerbils set up in no time at all.
Choosing a Container
The best place to house gerbils is an aquarium. 1 by 2 feet will give 2 gerbils plenty of space, but for more gerbils than that, you will need to increase the amount of space available to them. In addition to an aquarium, you will need a mesh cover of an appropriate size. This will guarantee that your gerbils cannot climb out of the tank, while still allowing them plenty of air circulation.
Gerbils need about 2 inches of bedding at the bottom of their cage for maximum comfort and safety. There are many types of bedding you can use for your gerbils, so pick the one that is available and convenient. Aspen shavings and paper pulp are both good choices. Anything else your local pet store has available and marked for use with gerbils is probably good as well. However, it is important that you do not make your own bedding, as there are many health complications that can result from bad materials.
Putting in Furniture
In addition to space and bedding, you will need to furnish your gerbil cage. Using the right gerbil furniture is important to keeping gerbils healthy, as well as giving them something to do with their time.
First, you will need a food bowl and a water bottle. Food bowls should be easy to clean and hard to knock over. Ceramic food bowls are excellent for their texture and weight, but a well balanced plastic bowl will work just fine. Water bottles for a gerbil cage should have metal spouts, and attach to the outside of the cage. The spout should not touch anything in the cage, nor should it drip. While it is possible to use a bowl for water, it is a terrible idea, as bowls can be knocked over. Even if the bowl does not get knocked over, it can still get your gerbils wet, which is very bad.
You should also get your gerbils an exercise wheel, preferably one that attaches to the outside of the cage firmly. Be sure to get a solid wheel instead of a a wire wheel, as wire wheels can lead to injury.
Gerbils also like to make nests in small enclosed areas, which you should encourage. There are many types of gerbil furniture that you can use to do this in your local pet store, such as igloos, pods, and ceramic enclosures.
The best things you can give your gerbils to keep them busy are things to chew on. Any clean scraps of cardboard that you would otherwise throw away are great, cheap ways to do this. In particular, toilet paper tubes make great, if short-lived, gerbil toys.