Tank: minimum size 10-gallon aquarium. As gerbils chew everything, a glass aquarium is the most recommended home. Metal wire cages will be messy as gerbils tunnel and scatter their bedding.
Lid: As gerbils can be escape artists it is essential to have a mesh lid on the tank. Gerbils can jump up to 12 inches and are very good climbers.
Tank topper: If you have male gerbils, you may decide to purchase a tank topper to give them more room to play. Female gerbils are territorial and may fight each other for higher ground if they have a tank topper.
Water bottle: either glass or plastic water bottle with a metal sipper tube. If any of the plastic is accessible, the gerbils will likely chew it. Depending on the type of water bottle you may need to purchase an attachment tool.
Food dish: Ceramic 3-4 oz bowl (not plastic as they may chew the bowl). It should be light enough that a gerbil would not be trapped under it if it tips over. Gerbils seem to enjoy tipping their food dishes over😊
Toys: Cardboard tubes are a staple for gerbils as they need something to chew on at ALL TIMES. Shipping tubes last longer, but toilet paper or paper towel tubes, or cardboard from cereal boxes, etc., work fine as well. You can give them branches from outside, but you will need to make sure to get rid of any insects by baking them for 2.5 hours at 225.
Bedding: We recommend Aspen bedding. (Do not use pine or other wood bedding as it is dangerous for the gerbils). Adding unscented toilet paper or brown paper napkins from fast food restaurants will give your gerbils soft materials to make their nest.
Each of your gerbils need about one tablespoon of food per day (half as much when they are young and twice as much if they are pregnant).
As gerbils do not over-eat, you can put enough food in their bowl for several days at one time, so you just feed them twice per week (so 6 TBSP of food twice per week for 2 gerbils). Do check their bowl every day to be sure they do not run out of food. You may want to put their dish in an elevated spot or they will fill it with bedding making it impossible to see if they have eaten their food or not. They will likely eat their favorite food first, so it is best to wait until they have eaten all of their food before giving them more. If they only eat their favorite foods, their diet will not be balanced.
You can also spread food over their bedding so they have to forage for their food. They are instinctively foragers, so this allows them to forage for food when they are hungry. We would recommend having a bowl of food as well, just to be sure they are getting the correct nutrition.
While they do sell gerbil food at local pet stores, Wal-Mart or online, we mix our own which is cheaper in the long run, and potentially healthier. See below for the home-made food mixture.
This is what we feed our gerbils (recipe from Gerbils on the Quay).
- 1 part Millet (We use Wild Harvest Universal Blend or Wild Harvest Parakeet)
- 1 part Cheerios (Generic brands are fine)
- 1/4 – 1/2 part Granola (We use Nature’s Path Pumpkin Flax Granola)
- 1 part White Stripe Sunflower Seeds (Do not use solid black seeds as the oil is too high in fat)
- You can also give them dried corn on the cob, leaving the cob in for extra chewing fun