How To: Care for a pet gerbil

Care for a pet gerbil

A gerbil makes a great "starter pet" for a child. Gerbils are friendly, fun to watch, quiet, and clean little guys whose cages don't get smelly as fast as some animals'.
You Will Need
* A gerbil
* A large wire cage or 20-gallon glass aquarium
* Bedding
* Gerbil food
* Fresh greens and vegetables
* A water bottle
* Untreated wood blocks
* Cardboard boxes, tubes, or flowerpots
* An exercise wheel

Step 1: Set up home
Keep your gerbil in a large wire cage or 20-gallon glass aquarium, away from direct sunlight and drafts.

Step 2: Line cage
Line your gerbil's cage with bedding—hay, aspen shavings, or recycled shredded paper are best. Gerbils love to dig and burrow, so make their bedding several inches deep.

Step 3: Feed gerbil
Feed your gerbil "gerbil mix," which is specially formulated for his needs and is available at pet stores. As a treat, give your gerbil small amounts of fresh vegetables and greens. Try small pieces of lettuce, broccoli, and carrots.

Step 4: Fill water bottle
Every day, fill your gerbil's bottle with fresh, clean water.

Step 5: Use chew toys
Gerbils' teeth grow continuously throughout their lives, so they need hard stuff to chew on and wear their teeth down. Give your gerbil plenty of untreated wood to chew—or even the occasional dog biscuit.

Step 6: Offer hiding places
Gerbils love lots of hiding places to play in and to sleep in. Try shoeboxes, overturned flowerpots, and cardboard tubes.

Step 7: Exercise your gerbil
Put a large exercise wheel or two in your gerbil's cage and make sure he can get at them easily. Even rodents need to work out!

Step 8: Let the gerbil out
Get your gerbil used to you by handling him every day and letting him run around in a safe, enclosed area.

Step 9: Close the cage
When you put your gerbil back in his cage, make sure the door is locked. The little guys love to escape!

Step 10: Enjoy
Enjoy yourself. With just a little care, gerbils return a ton of fun for you and your

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