Gerbils are animals that are sensitive without their environment and their requirement. The bedding is one of their requirements. You should provide them the comfortable and required amount of their bedding. The bedding is the layer of some material that is used as a bed inside their cage.
Importance of Bedding
The bedding acts as a soft floor for the gerbil pets. There are some important reasons why gerbils need bedding in their cage.
- It provides a pleasant surface for your gerbils when they walk.
- It keeps the cage dry by soaking gerbil’s urine, water or some other liquid items.
- It keeps the cage warm and cozy while the gerbils are asleep.
- It protects the gerbil from their fall off. Because the soft bedding provide them saftey by not getting hurt for your pet.
- They gerbils have a habit of digging the tunnels. If you provide them a thick layeer of the bedding, they will keep on enjoying the tunnel digging. And also gerbils spend most of the time in digging and scampering through homemade burrows.
The Main Qualities of Bedding
There are some important qualities of bedding for your gerbil pet’s health and safety. They are as follows,
- Non-toxic materials
- Odor control
- Highly absorbent material
- Less amout of dust or no duse
The Best Bedding for your Gerbil pets
There are a lot of options to choose the type of bedding. Not all the beddings are good and equal. All those vary in the cost of materials used. But some owners will make their own bedding, as this can be cheaper.
Types of Gerbil's bedding
|Bedding Type||Pros||Cons||Image of the bedding||Cost of the bedding|
|Aspen Shavings:||Natural, visually appealing. Pleasant scent. Absorbent. Inexpensive.||Some brands can be dusty, causing irritation.||$20.20|
|Carefresh:||Highly absorbent. Available in various colors.||More expensive than aspen. Quality control issues – some batches are dusty.||$43.56|
|Kaytee Clean & Cozy:||Soft, ideal for nesting. Cheaper than Carefresh. Mostly dust-free.||Not as absorbent as Carefresh.||$54.76|
|Hemp:||Natural. Completely dust-free. Highly absorbent. Mixes well with other substrates.||Expensive due to production costs.||$ 10.15|
|Corn Cob:||Natural and compostable. Dust-free. Cheaper than hemp bedding. Great odor control.||Must change regularly to prevent mold growth. Not suitable for burrowing.||$ 16.57|
|Hay:||Cheap, edible, and dust-free. It keeps gerbils warm. Pleasant scent.||Non-absorbent. Not suitable to use as the only substrate.||$ 3.76|
|Shredded Paper:||Cheap or free to acquire. Dust-free.||The ink from printed paper can be dangerous. Non-absorbent. Visually unattractive.||$ 18.39|
|Sand:||It closely mimics gerbils’ natural environment. Good for dust bathing. If kept damp can be used for burrowing.||Hard work to maintain. Tunnels can collapse if dry. It can be cold if damp. Poor odor control.||$ 37.39|
It is made up of shavings from aspen tree logs so they are comfortable for them. And they attract your gerbil pet and give a pleasant woody smell. It will absorb the liquid and conceals odors well. They spend most of the time chewing the aspen shavings into wood pulp to build tunnels with.
These aspens do not cause health issues because they are not oily. Some brands of aspen will have dust. Dust can cause respiratory infections and irritation to the eyes and nose of gerbils. Aspen is one of the more affordable bedding options, and it’s widely available.
These are made up of paper fibers that are processed into small chunks. But it has a more absorbent capacity than aspen bedding. And also these bedding are more capacity for odor control. This bedding prevents odors for up to 10 days.
Carefresh bedding comes in many colors, like natural brown, white, and multicolored. The colored pieces are not harmful because they are dyed with natural materials. And also they are safe to chew. This bedding can be combined with the other bedding material to form sturdier tunnels.
The Kaytee bedding is having less absorbent capacity than Carefresh. So you need to change the bedding more often. But still, it absorbs twice as much liquid as aspen shavings. Kaytee bedding gets a lot of dust extraction process during the production. So it is 99% dust-free.
When you compare the Kaytee bedding material to the Carefresh bedding material, the Kaytee bedding seems cozy, softer, and fluffier.
This kind of bedding is just like traditional wood shavings and contains some useful properties. The hemp bedding can absorb the liquid 4 times it’s weight. It is scentless. But still, it controls the odor very well. These can also be mixed with other materials of bedding.
The Mongolian gerbils like to eat the hemp plant in the wild and hemp substrate is dust-free. So it is really safe for them to digest and swallow. But the hemp bedding is expensive and is hard to find. Many pet stores do not stock it is it is new to the market.
Corn Cob Bedding
The corn cob is made up of the inner core of an ear of corn. This part of the plant is tough but it is also a good absorbent. It is completely natural so they are digestible and safe to swallow.
Corn cob bedding is good at controlling odors. It is dust-free and hence safe for your pet’s respiratory systems. But, still, there are some drawbacks of corn cob bedding:
- It is difficult to chew.
- It can be painful for gerbils’ feet, and hard to burrow in.
- Most gerbils don’t bother trying to make tunnels out of it.
- Corn cob bedding can grow mold.
Hay is used as food. The gerbils but enjoy chewing on it, as it helps file their teeth down. But normally, the gerbils do not eat hay. The hay gives a pleasant smell which keeps the cage fresh and warm.
The hays like timothy, orchard, and alfalfa hay are safe for your gerbil pet. But one drawback is, it is not absorbent.
Shredded Paper Bedding
The gerbils love the paper you can mix it with other materials to form tunnels. So, the addition of shredded paper makes the bedding more bulk for the existing substrate. It is the cheapest bedding for the gerbils. You need to ream of cheap printer paper and a paper shredder. Do not bother about the quality and thickness of the paper.
You can use paper designed for printing or writing on. Try to avoid toilet paper. Because it gets wet and smells quickly. So it doesn’t work well as a gerbil substrate.
If you choose the soil for the bedding of your gerbil pet, you are generous. Because the gerbils love to burrow. The soil burrowing gives them the natural kind of bedding. The main advantage of soil is that it is natural, absorbent, and can hold tunnels well. And it is also inexpensive to buy.
But still, there is some drawback of the soiled bedding. They are,
- It is messy, and will make your gerbils dirty, as well as everything else in the tank.
- It is cold, heavy, and difficult to maintain. It requires a lot of effort to clean and replace.
- Soil and peat need to be kept moist, so that tunnels don’t dry out and collapse. Because of this, mold may grow, and seeds from your gerbil’s food may germinate.
The origin of the gerbils is a sandy desert of Mongolia. So, the owners will choose sand as their pet’s bedding as it seems their natural environment. The sand is safe for gerbils.
But make sure that the sand you use for the bedding of the gerbils is sterilized and not dusty. The gerbils like to bathe and burrowing in the sand. And also, the sand is good for gerbils to make a tunnel.
But, the sand does not contain much odor-controlling substance. And also the sand makes it difficult to clean. Try to avoid the moist sand as they make your pet too cold.
What not to use?
Some materials can not be used as bedding material. Just because they will be toxic to gerbils, indigestible, unsuitable for burrowing, or cause allergies, irritation, or digestive problems when swallowed.
They are as follows,
Perfume and deodorizing bedding
This kind of bedding contains chemicals that cause irritation in the eye and respiratory issues.
Of course, they are natural bedding, non-toxic, and quite cheap. But still, the pellet bedding is not suitable for the gerbil’s bedding because it cannot be used for burrowing as the pieces of this material is too large. The dust from this material causes respiratory disease in your gerbil pet.
Even though this material is highly absorbent and controls odors, they are still dangerous for your gerbils. Because it is dusty. Whenever the gerbils chew this material, it will cause some infection. They are made up of clay which is not good for gerbils. This is highly perfumed which irritates your gerbil pets.
Cedar and pine wood shavings
These contain the toxic chemicals and the compound like phenols. These are really dangerous for your gerbils. These materials also contain highly scented oil which creates a problem in the respiratory system of your gerbils.
Avoid paper like newspapers and magazines as they are linked. The ink is toxic for your gerbil pets. If they chew these papers, they may face some health issues.
Cotton and polyester wadding
Wadding is made up of cotton and polyester. It is used to stuff pillows. But still, the wadding is dangerous for your gerbils because it is inedible. Because, if your gerbil swallows cotton or polyester, it won’t be able to digest it. This material may cause obstruction. If they are not treated, the gerbil will end up with death.
The landscaping bark is used in the yards and the playgrounds. They are large in size and are sharp and also they are treated with chemicals. This will harm your gerbil pet when they try to burrow.
These are designed for the use of humans. They are not suitable for gerbil cages because they are treated with a chemical that affects the gerbil pet’s health.
Substrate from outside
These are not suitable for the gerbil’s bedding because, contain contaminants, such as pesticides (mevinphos). This produces the symptoms like convulsions, incoordination, and death in gerbils.
Time to replace the bedding
- Change the bedding when they begin to smell.
- Some beddings, like Carefresh, are having the capacity to control the odors and won’t need to be changed too often.
- Bedding like corn cob bedding, must be replaced frequently as they can get mold.
- Make a habit of spot-cleaning once or twice a week.
- Gerbils go to the toilet in the particular place each time. So you need to replace this area of bedding frequently.
- You have to replace the bedding once in 3 to 4 weeks.
The bedding plays an important role in the gerbil’s life. If the bedding is dirt, your gerbils will go unhealthy like respiratory problems, skin problems, stressed out and etc. So, try to keep the bedding as clean as possible. And try to change the bedding again and again when the time comes.