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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Care Guides > Gerbil Setup Steps

Gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus)

Experience Level: Beginner

Gerbil with head turned


Step 1Choose Your Habitat

• Gerbils are gentle, social and enjoy the companionship of another Gerbil (house only same gender pairs together).

• Your Gerbil needs a home with a solid floor, large enough for a (A) food dish, (B) water bottle and a hiding area.

• Minimum cage size is 12x12x12" with wire spacing no more than 1/2" apart.

• Multilevel homes are preferred since they provide additional space for exercising.

• There should be plenty of room for all cage accessories, and for your pet to move around freely.



Step 2Play and HIde

These items are essential for your Gerbil’s comfort and encourage normal cleaning/exercise routines.

Exercise Wheel
(C) Remember Gerbils are nocturnal and may use the exercise wheel after your bedtime. To prevent tail injury, Gerbils should only run on a solid surface exercise wheel. Gerbils also enjoy running in an exercise ball when outside of their habitat.

Hide House (not pictured)
• Houses should be easily cleaned. Edible homes give the additional benefit of encouraging normal chewing behavior.

Chew Toys (not pictured)
• Your Gerbil’s front teeth never stop growing, so your pet needs lots of healthy things to chew on like treat sticks and chews. Chew toys should be available at all times.

Nesting Material (not pictured)
• Gerbils will shred material and make sleep areas. Paper or cotton fabrics are acceptable.

Step 3Bedding

(D) Gerbils love to hide and burrow, so provide lots of clean pine, aspen or recycled paper bedding. Line the home with 2-3" of bedding.

• Cedar shavings are not recommended for small pets.

• Bedding should be spot cleaned weekly and completely changed monthly.

Traits and Behaviors

• They are curious and not easily startled, so they’re great for busy, active households.

• You’ll notice your Gerbil grooming frequently while awake.


New surroundings and environments can be stressful for Small Pets. Prior to handling your pet, give her 3-4 days to adjust to her new surroundings while monitoring her behavior for any signs of excessive stress or illness.


• Cloudy, sunken or swollen eyes

• Overgrown front teeth

• Bare patches in the fur

• Diarrhea or discolored droppings

• Lethargic behavior

• Weight loss; not eating or drinking normally

• Sneezing; discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth

If you notice any of the signs described above, speak with a PetSmart store associate or small animal veterinarian about the health of your pet.

PetSmart Cares
Pets purchased at PetSmart are a part of our exclusive Vet Assured™ program; a program designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well-being of our pets.

The program includes:
• Specific standards our vendors agree to meet in caring for and observing pets for common illnesses.

• Specific standards for in-store pet care.

• The PetSmart Promise: If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase  price.