What Type of Bedding Is Best for Gerbils?

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Type Bedding Best Gerbils
Photo by Heiko Stein on Pixabay

Some pets are harder to care for than others. Whether it’s a reptile that needs live food or a feisty ferret tearing up your carpet, every animal has its own needs and quirks. The best type of bedding for gerbils is an important item to be addressed for their well being.

You don’t have to make huge sacrifices for all pets. We've found that gerbils are one of the easiest pets to care for and maintain. Look no further if you’re searching for a low-maintenance furry friend.

That said, you should still do your research before bringing home any pet. It’s your responsibility to keep them healthy, from choosing the best food to the best gerbil bedding. That’s why we put together this guide on the best bedding for gerbils. We've combined personal experience and our own research to help you choose what's right for your furry little friend. Keep reading for answers to all your questions and our favorite gerbil-approved options!

Do Gerbils Need Bedding?

Type Bedding Best Gerbils

Roksana Helscher on Pixabay

Yes, gerbils need bedding in their enclosure. More importantly, you need to know why gerbil bedding is important. Understanding these non-aggressive pets will help you choose the best product to keep your little friend happy.

Gerbils need bedding in their cage or tank for these reasons:

  • Your gerbil’s feet will be much happier walking on soft bedding than a hard tank/cage bottom.
  • Bedding for gerbils absorbs feces, urine and any water spills, keeping your gerbil clean and dry.
  • If your gerbil falls off anything in the enclosure, the bedding gives them a soft and safe landing.
  • Natural instincts—a gerbil’s instincts tell them to burrow and dig tunnels. They need enough bedding to do so, just like rodents in the wild.

How Often To Change Gerbil Bedding

Gerbil bedding gets dirty over time. And just like your own home, your gerbil’s habitat will need freshening.

We've discovered that a good rule of thumb is swapping out noticeably dirty bedding once a week. You should also completely clean out and replace 100% of the bedding once every three to four weeks.

But the more gerbils you have in one enclosure, the more often you’ll need to change the bedding. Procrastinating too long between changes can cause ammonia odors to linger. These can cause breathing issues for your furry friend in no time at all.

Always err on the side of caution when it comes to cleaning dirty bedding.

What Type of Bedding Is Best for Gerbils?

The best bedding for gerbils is hay, aspen, pet-safe paper or a mix of all three. These are ideal because options like pine and cedar can cause respiratory issues.

It's easy to go down a rabbit hole trying to find the best gerbil bedding for tunnels or the best bedding for gerbils to burrow. You see, each material has certain benefits. For example, hay bedding is very affordable and provides a lot of warmth for your gerbils. But it's not absorbent enough on its own.

That’s why a mix of two or even all three of the best materials will give you and your gerbil the best of all worlds. They can burrow all day and clean-up will be a cinch for you every week.

The one thing to note about aspen gerbil bedding is that some gerbils are sensitive or even allergic to it. If you notice your gerbil is wheezing, has crusty/watery eyes or is sneezing a lot, stop using aspen.

Now, without further ado, here are the best gerbil bedding options we’ve tried!

Carefresh Gerbil Bedding

Carefresh Natural Small Pet Bedding is a fantastic, all-natural paper option. This gerbil bedding is a favorite with gerbil owners for several reasons.

  • Gerbils love it. As nesters, gerbils go crazy for this stuff. It’s perfect for tunnels and burrows, even if you don’t mix it with another bedding type.
  • Odor control. This bedding can help fight odors for up to 10 days, so you don’t need to completely change it out as often.
  • Clean and dry. Because it’s made from paper, this option is dust-free and super-absorbent. Your gerbil will stay cleaner and healthier, plus their tunnels and burrows will last longer.

We noticed one potential drawback.

  • Gut issues. If your gerbil eats a large amount, gut impaction is a possibility.

Oxbow Pure Comfort Animal Bedding

Oxbow Pure Comfort Bedding Blend tends to be the most affordable gerbil bedding out there. We found this option to be a great value because:

gerbil bedding

  • It’s safe. Oxbow regularly tests their products for purity. This ensures the bedding is always safe for your pet.
  • It mixes well with other bedding. A mix of hay, paper and aspen is the easiest for burrowing and tunneling. This bedding mixes very well with all other gerbil-safe options.
  • It’s affordable. Oxbow bedding is consistently cheaper than other popular brands. But it’s not any less absorbent than pricier brands. 

You should also know about these potential drawbacks.

  • Gut issues. If your gerbil eats a large amount of the bedding, gut impaction is possible.
  • Bad for tunnels. You’ll need to mix this with aspen or hay so your gerbil can burrow.

Kaytee Aspen Bedding for Gerbils

Kaytee Aspen Small Pet Bedding is the best aspen gerbil bedding around. We love this stuff.

gerbil bedding

  • It’s safe. This bedding is certified to be free of artificial colors and aromatic oils. These ingredients can be harmful to your gerbil’s digestive and respiratory systems.
  • It’s almost 100% dust-free. Aspen bedding dust can irritate your gerbil’s lungs and throat. But this option is specifically processed to reduce dust and the likelihood of irritating your pet.
  • Biodegradable and compostable. Because this bedding is made from natural wood shavings, you can toss it into your compost or trash can without worry.

But we noticed this infrequent issue:

  • Quality control. Very rarely, a bag of this bedding will have much finer shavings or they’ll almost feel damp. It’s frustrating to not get what you expected.

Best Bedding for Gerbils Q & A

How much bedding do gerbils need?

Gerbils need their bedding to cover the entire floor of their enclosure. It also needs to be deep enough for burrowing and tunneling. If you have one gerbil in a 20-gallon tank, you’ll probably need about 30 liters of bedding.

Do gerbils need litter and bedding?

No, gerbils don’t need litter and bedding. In fact, litter can be dangerous for your gerbils.

It’s true that cat litter is safe for cats, so we understand why you might think it’s safe for gerbils. Many gerbils are even smart enough to be litter or toilet-trained.

The thing is, gerbils are curious creatures. And one way they explore their environment is by nibbling. Whether your cat litter is clay, silica or even corn-based, it’s not safe for gerbils to ingest. So, steer clear of adding a small litter box to your gerbil enclosure.

How deep should you make the gerbil bedding?

Gerbil bedding should be between five and six inches deep to keep your furry friend happy. This depth creates plenty of space to burrow, dig, tunnel and nest to their heart’s content.

In the wild, gerbils are most comfortable in their underground burrows. Your pet gerbil has these same instincts.

Now that you know all about the best bedding for gerbils, you don’t have to spend hours researching and shopping—just pick from our recommendations above. Then you can rest easy knowing your gerbil can safely burrow day in and day out!

About the Author

Type Bedding Best Gerbils

Shelby Dennis

Shelby Dennis is a freelance writer who specializes in lifestyle topics like pets, gardening, and health/beauty. All her life, Shelby has shared a home with at least one pet at any given time. Some of her earliest memories include playing with cats and dogs! She’s also adopted mice, guinea pigs, parakeets, and fish over her adult years. Growin[...] Author Details

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