Gerbil homes and hideaways

grey gerbil peeking out of coconut house

Winner: hanging coconut

Gerbils love to hide. As prey animals, they take cover at the slightest sight or sound. Hideaways make them feel safe, which in turn makes them tamer and more trusting.

There are loads of good options available. Some double as gnaw toys or homes to nest in. My all-time favourite has to be the hanging coconut.

The coconut comes with a string to suspend it from the top of the cage and a cute little ladder. Inevitably, it very soon ends up hanging by a thread with its ladder in bits. Such is gerbil life!

The pros are obvious. The hard shell is very resilient and easy to clean. It’s also a cosy and comfy spot for gerbils to snuggle in. It’s such a joy when first one, then two tiny faces pop out. And it makes for fabulous photographs.

grey and brown gerbil graphic

“I LIVE to destroy grass houses!”

black and dark grey gerbil graphic

“Cuddles in the coconut are the best!”

Runner-up: grass house

I nearly chose wooden playsticks as runner-up. As gnaw toys, space dividers, ledges or hideaways, they’re super-versatile. But grass houses are serious fun, so they edged it.

Getting their paws on a grass house can make gerbils almost delirious! A vampiric frenzy will follow, as they rip it to shreds. The resulting haystack then provides hours of entertainment as they line their nest with the best bits.

I’ve never seen one survive more than a few hours. Have you?

Which hideaways do your gerbils like? Have you ever tried making your own? Before leaving a comment, please read the comments policy – thanks!

  • black gerbil standing upright beside a grass house filled with bedding
  • grey gerbil appearing out of a terracotta-coloured gnaw toy
  • black gerbil at the entrance of a tunnel made of wooden sticks

 

Tunnels and tubes for gerbils

grey gerbil appearing out of cardboard tunnel, black gerbil standing behind him

Winner: any brown cardboard poster tube

Finally, something useful in the attic! All my brown cardboard poster tubes have been dusted off and repurposed. They’re the perfect size and shape for my gerbil playpen.

They’re multifunctional too. Trouble tempting a shy gerbil out of the cage? Use a tunnel. Escaped gerbil roaming free? Use a tunnel. Gerbils skittish in the playpen? (You know what I’m going to say!)

It simply brings out all of their natural instincts and behaviours, and makes them feel safe. And sometimes they’ll peek out and there you have it – the perfectly framed snap.

grey and brown gerbil graphic

“I use it to hide from the paparazzi…”

black and dark grey gerbil graphic

“Love love love our hay tunnel. Delicious and nibbly!”

Runner-up: Pets At Home small pet hay tunnel

I can tell when a toy is a big hit, as the boys are all over it. So it is with a hay tunnel. They run through it, gnaw on it, nibble the hay, hide in it…

My older gerbils hold the demolition record for these tunnels. Half-gone and still going! But maybe the young pups will surprise?

Do your pets like tunnels and tubes? What’s their favourite type? Add your thoughts below. Before leaving a comment, please read the comments policy – thanks!

  • grey gerbil beside hay tunnel
  • black gerbil standing beside tunnel
  • grey gerbil hiding behind tunnel

 

Gerbil bedding

black gerbil standing beside coconut home

Winner: Pets At Home bedding recycled paper

This bedding wins hands down for me. This may be a teensy bit selfish…

Pithy and Boon always run amok with it, trailing it everywhere. They get tangled up in it and start to look like mini mummies. It’s all just too adorable!

On the plus side, the packaging boasts it is biodegradable and recyclable, with dust extracted. What’s not to like?!

grey and brown gerbil graphic

“I rampage around with bedding on my head!”

black and dark grey gerbil graphic

“I offer little bits of bedding to Pithy. Cos I love him!”

Runner-up: Carefresh animal bedding

I don’t tend to use this as bedding alone. Rather as substrate. What do you use Carefresh for: bedding or substrate?

In any case, it always ends up mixed in with the paper bedding, along with chewed-up cardboard and wood shavings. The boys seem to love it, and it looks super-cosy too.

What’s your preferred gerbil bedding? Any new ones out there? Add your recommendations below. Before leaving a comment, please read the comments policy – thanks!

  • grey gerbil standing in bedding
  • black gerbil beside pile of bedding
  • grey gerbil crouching beside pile of bedding

 

Choosing gerbils

close-up of grey gerbil

It’s the most exciting moment: gotcha day. How did you pick your gerbils? Or did they pick you?!

Whether you went for the pet shop, breeder or ‘adopt don’t shop’ option, there’s a lot to look out for. Gerbil guides usually mention the following:

  • bright, clear eyes
  • clean, smooth coat
  • no discharge from eyes, nose, ears or under tail
  • no clicking noises
  • alert, active and curious behaviour

This list has always worked well for me.

grey and brown gerbil graphic

“Of course she picked me. I’m adorable!”

black and dark grey gerbil graphic

“Woo hoo! Loving my new home. And Pithy’s here too!”

Pithy and Boon I adored from the word go. Pithy didn’t stop zooming around and Boon ran right up to say hello. Smitten!

One surprising thing though … their personalities in the shop didn’t translate at home. So Boon was bold in the shop but shy at home, and Pithy vice versa. Have you had this experience? They can take a while to settle into themselves.

I love that gerbils live in pairs or groups and enjoy each other’s company. Don’t know about you, but I think there’s nothing cuter than snuggling gerbs!

Remember to get the pet shop or breeder to double-check whether your gerbils are male or female. Unless you’re secretly hoping to hear the pitter patter of baby paws…

So, what’s your gotcha experience? Add your story below. Before leaving a comment, please read the comments policy – thanks!

  • close-up of black gerbil
  • young grey gerbil crouching
  • young black gerbil standing on hind legs