Home /


/ Gerbil Cage Setup: How to Set up the Perfect Gerbilarium

Gerbil Cage Setup: How to Set up the Perfect Gerbilarium

Gerbils need a lot of space and an area to burrow. An ideal gerbil cage should have food bowls, water dispensers, bedding, and an exercise wheel to keep them happy and engaged.

Gerbils are adorable small rodents. They live in clans and are highly social beings. 

While they are small, they still need a lot of space to roam. A gerbil’s cage is an integral part of keeping it safe and happy. 

But how to set up a gerbil cage?

This article discusses the aspects of a good gerbil cage and gives tips on what cage accessories make your gerbil happy.

Gerbil Cage Setup

A cage is an important part of a pet gerbil’s life. Gerbils are small rodents that should not be left outside to roam freely without supervision. An ideal gerbil cage should be around 20 gallons in volume.

Despite their small appearance, gerbils need a lot of space. They love jumping and running around, which is why a big cage is important.

Most owners keep their gerbils in a specially designed cage called a gerbilarium.

The size of a gerbil cage should be at least 10 gallons per gerbil. This allows them to be active and explore freely. The dimensions of an ideal gerbilarium should be 12 x 30 x 12 inches. 

A gerbilarium can hold two gerbils, but it is better to get a bigger cage or one with multiple compartments if you’re keeping multiple gerbils.

Gerbilariums are made up of a cage sitting atop an aquarium filled with bedding. 

The bedding should be deep enough for your gerbil to burrow and build its nest.

Gerbils Cage Setup

How Much Space Does a Gerbil Need?

Gerbils need approximately 10 gallons of living space. If you have two gerbils, you need to buy a 20-gallon gerbilarium as a minimum.

A proper cage with all the accessories helps them keep active during the night when they are most active.

While most of a gerbil’s time is spent on grooming and burrowing but it does enjoy exploring the cage. Make sure there’s enough space for accessories and supplies.

What Should a Gerbil Cage Have?

A gerbil cage should be made of metal and should have multiple platforms for your gerbil to jump and explore. There should be adequate burrowing space to satisfy the natural digging behavior of gerbils. The cage also needs toys, food bowls, and other accessories.

Gerbils need a cage to stay safe and away from the dangers of the outside world. Aquariums and gerbilariums are the most common choices. 

These are both easy to clean and are relatively inexpensive. 

Gerbilariums allow you to see your gerbil more easily due to the glass structure.

Apart from the cage itself, it needs to fulfill some requirements:

  • Bar spacing
  • Layer and platforms
  • Materials
  • Burrowing space

Bar Spacing

Gerbils Cage Bar Spacing
Image Source

A gerbilarium is consists of a metal cage sitting atop an aquarium. The bars should have some spacing so your gerbil does not get stuck. 

The gaps should not be too wide for the gerbils to easily poke their heads through them though.

A mesh is a better option as their feet don’t get stuck, while still allowing them to walk comfortably in the cage. The mesh also improves ventilation.

Layers and Platforms

Gerbils love exploring their cages but are not expert climbers. Because they don’t climb well, you should install multiple platforms inside the cage.

Ramps are important to help gerbils move between the platforms. Make sure that the climbing ramps don’t have tall or critically angled steps, as your gerbil can fall from them.

If they do fall, the soft bedding often cushions the fall.


Gerbils Cage Material

Rodents have the tendency to chew on everything they can, and gerbils are the same. Chewing helps them file their teeth to safe lengths as their teeth never stop growing.[1]

The cage walls and everything inside them should be made of materials that gerbils can safely chew on. 

Plastics are dangerous for them and can cause health issues or even death.

But, you don’t want them to chew on the cage bars. These should be made of metal as it is difficult for them to chew. 

The bedding and toys should be edible though. Ceramic food bowls are great as they are tough and cannot easily be chewed.

Burrowing Space

Gerbils Cage Burrowing Space

One of the most important parts of a gerbil cage is the burrowing space. Gerbils are natural burrowers. They dig in the deserts to avoid predators and the harsh climate. 

Burrowing allows them to build a nest so they can sleep without worrying about dangers.[2]

Pet gerbils are reliant on their owners to provide them with burrowing space. Your gerbilarium should include at least four to five-inch-deep burrowing space to fulfill their digging needs.

Gerbil Cage Accessories

Gerbils need feeding bowls, water dispensers, and bedding inside their cages. They also need dust baths to clean themselves, and hideouts to sleep and rest in.

Now that you know a lot about the cage and its materials, you should know about the different accessories your gerbil needs. 

Some of the most important gerbil cage accessories are as follows:

  • Feeding bowls
  • Water dispensers
  • Hideouts
  • Dust baths
  • Bedding
  • Toys and exercise wheels

Feeding Bowls

Gerbil Feeding Bowls
Image Source

Gerbils need food to survive, and they need something to eat out of. This is where feeding bowls come in.

You can feed a single gerbil food in its regular bowl without any issues. If you keep multiple gerbils, you should pay attention to their feeding behavior. 

Some gerbils are aggressive and don’t allow others to eat. If that is the case, it is better to give your gerbils food in different bowls.

The bowls should be made of ceramic so gerbils destroy them when chewing on them. Ceramic bowls are also heavy and do not move easily. 

Do not use food bowls made of plastic as it is toxic for gerbils and can cause health issues.

Water Bottles

Gerbils need water to survive. They only drink a few drops every day, but that doesn’t mean they can survive long without it. Hang glass water bottles on the side of the cage and make sure to refill them regularly.

You should have at least two water bottles in place. This allows unrestricted water access to your gerbil in case one bottle does not function properly.

The bottles should not be made of plastic. Use glass bottles as they are unchewable.


Gerbil Cage Hideouts

Gerbils need a hideout that serves as their safe spot inside the cage. While they don’t spend a lot of time in their hideouts, they do provide a needed place to rest.

Gerbils fill their hideouts with nesting material to make them more comfortable. Female gerbils also use hideouts to keep their pups. 

This allows you to watch the baby gerbils safely and clearly.

Dust Bath

Gerbil Dust

Gerbils need occasional dust baths. They love playing in the dirt and cleaning themselves. A dust bath can be placed inside the cage allowing your gerbil to roll in the sand when it needs to.

The best way to give your gerbil a dust bath is to take it out of the cage and place it in the dust bowl. This allows your gerbil to spend some time outside the cage and clean itself. 

You can use this time to clean your gerbilarium and replace the bedding if needed.


Gerbil Cage Bedding

Bedding is one of the most important parts of a gerbilarium. Gerbils are natural diggers and love to burrow, and they need bedding to do so.

A proper gerbilarium should have at least four to five inches of bedding on the bottom layer so your gerbil can fulfill its burrowing needs.

There are several types of bedding for gerbils available in the market. Aspen shavings are one of the best, most affordable, and absorbent options.

Toys and Exercise Wheels

Gerbil Exercise Wheels
Image Source

Gerbils can survive on a simple diet and some water. But to keep them happy, you need to provide some toys and an exercise wheel. 

Gerbils also need to chew on toys to file their teeth.

Their teeth continue to grow forever, which can become a problem if left unchecked. Too large teeth hurt their lips and make it difficult for them to eat properly. 

They file their teeth by chewing hard surfaces. As long as they have enough chew toys, they rarely experience issues with teeth growth.

There are many options to choose from, such as wooden pieces, cardboard, and hay.  

Exercise wheels are another way to keep your gerbil active. A metal wheel is best as gerbils cannot chew it. Keep the wheel oiled with vegetable oil, so your gerbil does not get sick if it licks the oil.

Avoid using plastic wheels as they are dangerous.


Gerbils need a large cage, a minimum of 10 gallons per gerbil. If you keep multiple gerbils in a cramped space, it can lead to cannibalism. Gerbilariums are ideal for gerbils as it allows them to have solid ground to walk on while also catering to their burrowing needs.

You should put high-quality feeding bowls and water bottles inside the cage and avoid using plastic for anything. Gerbils cannot digest plastic, and it’s toxic for them to chew on.

Chew toys and exercise wheels also help keep your gerbil occupied at night. Make sure to properly oil the parts of the exercise wheel, so it doesn’t make noise when your gerbil runs on it.

Related: What Do Gerbils Cost?


What Are Safe Woods for Gerbils to Chew?

Ash, elm, bamboo, oak, and pine are some of the safest woods for gerbils to chew. You can use small pieces of these woods as chew toys for your gerbil.

Should I Cover My Gerbil Cage?

No, you should not cover your gerbil cage. This raises the temperature, which can result in heat stroke. The covering also restricts air circulation resulting in less heat exchange. Gerbils go to their burrows or hiding spots to sleep, making it unnecessary to cover their cage.

How Often Do I Need to Clean My Gerbil Cage?

You should change your gerbil’s bedding once a week. Gerbil urine smells, which is why absorbent bedding is important. Gerbils usually pee and poop in a single spot. You should clean that spot every day. 

About Misfit Animals Staff

The Misfit Animals staff consists of animal lovers, pet enthusiasts, veterinarians, zoologists, and other animal experts. Our goal is to provide people with information on proper animal care.

Looking for something?

Try searching our website!