Gerbils are active rodents, so they need toys that keep them busy, such as wheels, tunnels, hideouts, houses, and other objects that they can climb onto. When it comes to gerbil chew toys, these should be made of untreated wood or cardboard, free from any harmful chemicals.
A short introduction to gerbils
Among the popular small rodents one can own, gerbils are at the top of the list, alongside hamsters and guinea pigs. Just like these last two types of pets, gerbils are small, active, easy to care for, and for the most part, inexpensive. One thing you might not know about them is that they are burrowing rodents and they come from Asia and Africa.
Of course, there is more than one type of gerbils living in the world, which means that you have a choice regarding the breed you can get, but the most popular ones are Mongolian gerbils. We know that many parents want to get pets for their children so that the young ones can learn more about responsibility, but these particular ones might not be the best option.
The reason for this statement is that they are very small and children who are not yet aware of their physical strength might squeeze them or, in other cases, drop them. Moreover, the little rodents are also able to scratch or nip if they find themselves in a situation in which they are afraid, so this is another aspect that should be kept in mind.
With this being said, if you do think that a gerbil is the right choice for your home, then you should get to know more about the types of toys that keep them entertained. Since we’re talking about rodents, you are right in assuming that these little guys are active during the night and that they have high levels of energy.
A bit about toys
The first and most important aspect that any pet owner should bear in mind is that toys should be safe, and this applies in the case of gerbils as well. These tiny rodents are known for sticking their heads into all kinds of things and spaces in order to explore them, so you need to make sure that any toys you choose could not lead to them getting their heads stuck in various holes.
Moreover, given that these are rodents we are talking about, it’s safe to assume that they are going to chew on a wide range of objects and toys. For this reason, you should always buy those specially made for this type of pets, and do your best to avoid any products that they might splinter off into sharp pieces that might afterward be ingested.
According to some pet parents, it’s better to remove plastic toys once the little fellows start chewing on them with more passion, in order to keep them safe. When it comes to cardboard, you may want to make sure that they are shredding it but not actually eating it.
Furthermore, toys should be safe for legs, toes, and tail as well, given that these can be trapped as well by various strings or parts. With all of the above in mind, let’s see what are some of the alternatives that you should take into consideration if you want to keep your little pet happy.
As you can imagine, gerbils enjoy running on wheels, so this is definitely one of the first types of toys that you should consider. Since they have to be safe as well, you should make sure that any wheel model you choose comes with a solid back wall and surface. Otherwise, it can become a hazard for your gerbil, as he or she can get various body parts trapped and injured.
In terms of measurements, the general rule says you should get a medium-sized wheel, but this depends on what you find available and on what you know your gerbil enjoys. The only thing you need to consider for this aspect is that the little guys should be able to keep relatively straight while using it, for their own comfort and protection.
Furthermore, as some gerbil owners say, there is a small chance that your pet won’t be that much into using the wheel. Even though this rarely happens, if it’s the case, you shouldn’t worry about it. After all, your pet will use it for as much and as long as he or she wants to.
Various types of houses and hides made of wood are also excellent entertainment choices for gerbils. You might find cardboard boxes to be a hit as well, but this is something you have to test in order to find out. With this being said, if you go for alternatives made of wood, you should make sure that the material is untreated. Chemicals can be dangerous for the little guys.
Wood is certainly something that they chew on, so you will need to replace the wooden hides or house after a while, but these do last longer than cardboard alternatives. And speaking of cardboard, if you want to test whether your gerbil enjoys this material as well, you need to use boxes that have as little ink as possible, to prevent him or her from ingesting any chemicals.
Of course, pet shops have specialized toys that you can buy, and if you are going to check these out (as you should), then you can also take a look at wooden logs that might be available as well. These are usually highly appreciated by gerbils, which makes them an excellent type of chew toy to go for, especially if teeth and dental care must be kept in check.
Since we’ve mentioned chewing toys, it’s a good idea to go into further detail on this category. Gerbils are into chewing, and this is no secret to anyone who has owned a rodent before. Some pet parents choose to use cardboard tubes from toilet paper rolls, given that this is a cheap and highly appreciated alternative that keeps gerbils happy.
If you do want to give these objects a try, you should make sure that there is no glue included in their construction that might be harmful to the little rodents. Also, any type of colors they might come in might be toxic as well, so you need to be careful when it comes to these particularities.
However, these cardboard items are usually safe for gerbils to play with, and what you can do in order to make sure that no digestive issues appear is to test them out by allowing your pet to play with such an item for a bit. Limiting playtime or amounts chewed on can help prevent any issues.
Untreated wood objects can be great toys. When it comes to colors, vegetable dyes should be safe for the little guys, and you can either buy an array of chew toys or make them on your own. Apple or willow branches can be used, as long as they a bit dried and sanitized beforehand, and you can find a lot of information on how to get this done.
On the other hand, you should steer clear of evergreen tree branches, as these contain substances that could not be well tolerated by gerbils. If you go to a local pet store, you will probably find climbing toys as well, which brings us to the next part of this article.
Climbing toys & dust baths
Gerbils are small, active, and full of energy, which means that they can and will climb on pretty much anything, especially wooden houses. Specialized stores also have wooden ladders, besides many other accessories that will surely keep your little friend busy throughout the day.
If you choose to go for accessories and toys made of plastic, you should be extra careful, given that these can become harmful. Splintered bits that are ingested can be dangerous, so if you see that your pet is passionate about chewing on a certain plastic object, you should probably remove it or only allow the little guy to play with it under your surveillance.
Gerbils are also known for enjoying dust baths, just as chinchillas do, so from time to time, you should offer them this fun as well. A heavy dish made of glass or ceramic material can be used for the bath, and chinchilla dust can be bought from the nearest pet store. You will also have a great time watching your pet roll around in the dust while keeping their fur clean.