What Is the Best Bedding for Gerbils?

Last updated:
Sep 8, 2023

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When it comes to selecting the best bedding for your pet gerbil, there are a few factors to consider. Not only does the bedding need to be comfortable and cozy for your little critter, but it must also be safe and non-toxic. This is why it’s important to take the time to find the best bedding for gerbils that meets all of these criteria. 

In this blog post, we will discuss the various types of bedding available for gerbils and which ones provide the best comfort and safety for your pet.

Why Is Bedding Important for Gerbils?

Bedding is an essential part of keeping gerbils healthy and comfortable. It helps to provide insulation from cold temperatures, absorb moisture, and keep your gerbil’s enclosure clean. 

Bedding also provides a comfortable surface for your gerbil to sleep on, as well as a source of material to dig and burrow in. This can help keep your gerbil entertained and prevent boredom. 

Additionally, having the right type of bedding can help keep odors at bay and can reduce the risk of disease or infection. The bedding also helps to keep dust to a minimum, which can be beneficial for both your gerbil and you. 

How Much Bedding Do I Need for My Gerbil?

Gerbils are hardwired to want to create deep and elaborate burrows with many chambers and tunnels. This is why it’s so important to make sure your gerbils have plenty of bedding to dig and nest with.

A good rule of thumb is to provide your gerbils with 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) of bedding in at least half of their enclosure. Obviously, this is difficult to do with a traditional bar cage, which is why we recommend using a tank as your gerbils’ enclosure.

A common issue with this amount of bedding is that your gerbils will bury all of their enrichment items, such as their wheels, as well as their water bottles. 

To solve this issue, you can use a tank topper and place everything on platforms or on the upper level of the topper, or divide the tank into a deep section and a shallow section.

Whenever you’re dividing your gerbils’ enclosure in any way, proper precautions shouldn’t be taken to avoid declanning as much as possible.

What Type of Bedding Should I Get for My Gerbil?

Gerbils can use paper bedding, aspen wood bedding, or a combination of the two. We also recommend incorporating some hay with the bedding because it helps your gerbils construct long-lasting and sturdy tunnels. A mix of paper, aspen, and hay creates the best tunnels. 

Gerbils will also chew and tear up any toys that you give them and line their tunnels with these shredded items. Some examples are paper towels, coffee filters, or toilet paper rolls. 

To give your gerbil more enrichment, don’t mix up the bedding completely, but place it in bunches around the tank. For example, you can fill up the tank partly with paper bedding, and then place a pile of aspen bedding in one corner and hay in another corner. This will mean your gerbils have to carry the different pieces around and mix it up themselves to achieve sturdy tunnels.

What Are the Best Brands of Bedding for Gerbils?

Unfortunately, not all small pet bedding brands are created equally. Additionally, some brands put out bedding products that are safe and healthy and others that are not safe at all. 

Below, we’ll give you the details on the brands and specific products that we use as gerbil bedding for our own pets. 

Best paper bedding for gerbils

First, let’s look at the best paper bedding products available for gerbils. This will make up a large portion of your gerbils’ bedding mix.

Best aspen bedding for gerbils

Aspen bedding is the only type of wood bedding we recommend using for gerbils or other small animals. 

Some small pet parents believe that kiln-dried pine bedding is safe for small pets, but this isn’t always guaranteed. Pine bedding can still contain the chemical components that cause respiratory issues in small mammals. 

Here are the brands and products we recommend for aspen gerbil bedding. 

Best hay bedding for gerbils

Finally, we’ll look at the hay bedding we recommend for gerbils. You can give your gerbils Timothy, alfalfa, orchard, or meadow hay.

What Bedding is Not Safe for Gerbils?

Not all types of small pet bedding are safe for gerbils. Here are the bedding types that we recommend avoiding: 

  • Pine shavings
  • Sawdust
  • Scented paper bedding
  • Dusty paper, aspen, or hay bedding
  • Kitty litter
  • Wood pellets

Learn more: Best Food for Gerbils

How Often Should I Change My Gerbil’s Bedding?

If you use 8 to 12 inches of bedding, you’ll generally only need to clean your gerbils’ tank and change their bedding once every two to four weeks. Gerbils are very clean animals, and they don’t produce as much urine or droppings as many other animals, such as rats and mice. 

Gerbils also tend to designate a “bathroom” spot in their enclosure, typically in a corner or in their sand bath. This makes spot-cleaning much easier and more effective, meaning you have to change out their bedding much less. 

Cleaning the gerbil enclosure too often is stressful for your gerbils because it reduces their familiar smells and destroys the burrows they’ve worked so hard to build. While doing this regularly is necessary, it’s important to avoid destroying your gerbils’ burrow systems as much as possible.

When you change out your gerbils’ bedding, try to keep and reincorporate about a quarter of their old bedding. Doing so greatly reduces the stress your gerbils will feel when you’re done cleaning their tank, and it can help prevent declanning.

Choosing the Best Bedding for Your Pets

Caring for gerbils is a learning process for everyone, and taking the advice of other small pet parents is one of the best things you can do. 

But like with anything else, you’ll discover your own preferences and the preferences of your specific gerbils as you go along. If you find that your gerbils don’t care for hay as a bedding component, don’t feel pressured to keep providing it to them. 

Every gerbil is different, and they’ll each have different methods of constructing tunnels and burrows. This guide is meant as a starting place and a recommendation for the bedding brands and products we trust.

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LittleGrabbies is an independent blog run by one human and her pets. We want to help you sift through all of the information that's out there for small pets to provide the best possible care.


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