How To Set Up A Gerbil Cage (Gerbil Habitat Setup Guide)

You’ve just got a brand new gerbil, and you want to settle him in at home. You want to kit out his cage with everything he will need to live a happy and comfortable life.

In this article, we have listed everything you need to know about putting the cage together so you don’t have to waste time investigating and can get on with the job.

How must you set up a gerbil cage?

Key Takeaway:

Your gerbil needs a 20-gallon wire cage with at least a 6-inch base. Fill the base with hay, aspen shavings, and shredded paper. Put a water bottle, food bowl, chew toys, dust bath, and exercise tools in the cage. Keep the cage at 68 to 75°F.

Not sure which toys and exercise tools to put in the cage or how much it’s all going to cost you?

Then you’ll find out the answers to these questions and more coming up next in this article. So, read on!

gerbil's big enclosure

How to Set Up Gerbil Cage

You have just taken your pet home from the pet store and want to put him in the best gerbil habitat. You want to build an enclosure that is inviting and comfortable for him.

But what does that include? How can you set up a cage that will give your gerbil the very best care?

Coming up, we’ll be taking a look step-by-step at how to make a gerbil cage feel like a home for your sweet, furry pet.

Let’s get right to it.

Cage Size

To get your gerbil’s cage up and running, the first thing you need to do is choose a size.

How big should a gerbil cage be?

Gerbils are very active animals that love to run about, climb and play. That is why your gerbil will need at least a 20-gallon cage.

If your cage is going to be for two gerbils, you will need a 40-gallon cage.

Bear in mind that these are minimum requirements.

If you have room for a bigger cage, get one. The bigger the cage, the better it will be.

a big enclosure for gerbils

Cage Material

All gerbil owners will be keen to choose the cage material that will work best for their small pets.

What is the best cage for a gerbil?

Gerbils love to climb.

They need a solid cage that promotes safe climbing. The best gerbil cage setup will have a secure opening that the rodent will not be able to climb up and out of.

Gerbils also love to gnaw. They have very sharp teeth.

They need to live in wire cages they will not be able to chew through and escape from. Wire cages promote climbing as this rodent would do in its natural habitat.

Plastic cages that are popular for hamsters are not good for gerbils because of their strong teeth. Gerbils can chew through plastic cages and escape. They also swallow the plastic pieces they bite, and this is harmful to them.

Glass aquariums are not suitable for gerbils either. This is because there is not enough air circulation in them, and temperature control is difficult in them in the summer.

Glass aquariums do not provide your gerbil the opportunity to climb like he would in his natural habitat.

The same goes for enclosures with wooden sides. They do not allow for climbing and are not a good choice for gerbils.

Cage Base

Gerbils enjoy burrowing and digging tunnels in their bedding. You must choose the right base for your wire tank so your gerbils have enough space to dig.

What cage is best for a gerbil?

The right cage will have a thick, tank-like base you will be able to fill with bedding. A wire cage with a thick base will allow the gerbil to burrow without scattering all of the bedding materials outside of the enclosure.

This will help keep the area outside the cage clean and will prevent you from wasting bedding.

Your gerbil must have at least 6 inches of bedding material to dig into like it would in the wild. So make sure the base is at least 6 inches deep.

Cage Location

Now you’ve got your hands on the best gerbil habitat; you must find the prime location to put it in.

Where is the best place to put your gerbil habitat?

Put your wire cage in a place where you will readily see your rodent.

Gerbils are low-maintenance pets, but you do not want to neglect them. If you keep your cage setup in a garage or backyard, you might neglect your pet.

Make sure they are indoors in a room where you will see them often. Checking in on them and spending time with your animal throughout the day is essential.

Keep these animals out of the reach of cats and dogs, which might frighten and attempt to harm them.

Cage Temperature

Your gerbils like temperatures that mimic their natural habitat.

What is a gerbil’s natural habitat?

Mongolian gerbils are desert animals that also inhabit grasslands and shrublands. In the wild, the temperatures of their environment are around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

That’s why the ideal temperature range for a gerbil is between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the room your gerbil is in meets these requirements.

Keep your gerbil habitat away from direct sunlight and out of drafty areas.

Your gerbil must not live in front of a window where it would be exposed to extreme temperatures. Do not put his enclosure in front of an air vent.

Cage Noise

Gerbils are timid creatures.

Where is the best place to put their cages?

Choose a quiet room to house your gerbil in.

They frighten easily, so do not put the cage in the same room as a noisy sound system. Do not keep them in a room that backs onto a loud street, and watch young children as they handle them.

Cage Bedding

You’ve now got your hands on the best gerbil housing, and you’ve put it in the ideal location. Up next, you need to pad it out with bedding to make it nice and comfy for your gerbil.

What is the best bedding material for your gerbil’s cage?

Fill the base tank of the cage with a mix of hay, aspen shavings, and shredded paper. Mixing these bedding materials throughout the base will allow your gerbil to make sturdy tunnels and burrow as he would in the wild.

Timothy hay doubles as a snack and as bedding. This hay is popular with guinea pigs too.

Aspen shavings are neutral and good for your gerbil. Never put pine or cedar shavings in the enclosure, as these are bad for the gerbil’s health and can cause respiratory issues.

Shredded paper is also great bedding for a gerbil’s cage. Using recycled paper is a fantastic way of helping the environment too.

Water Bottle

Gerbils drink 4 to 10ml of water every day. Yep, they love to stay hydrated.

Is a water bottle or a water bowl best?

A water bottle is much better than a water bowl. Gerbils are likely to mess up a water bowl by kicking bedding into it.

A water bowl is also likely to become contaminated with waste and food. Secure a drip-free water bottle to the gerbil housing.

If you have just one gerbil, one bottle will suffice. If you have two gerbils or more, you will need 2 or more water bottles.

gerbil's habitat


The best gerbil cages are always kitted out with the most delicious gerbil grub.

Not sure how to set up a gerbil tank with a food bowl?

Stoneware and ceramic food bowls are best for gerbils. They are easy to clean, chew-proof, and sturdy, so your pets will not knock them over as they run around the cage.

Put the food in a bowl in your gerbil’s cage to help keep it cleaner for longer. Do not simply scatter it about the cage.

Cage Exercise Tools

Gerbils are active, social creatures that love running around. They need lots of space in their cages to dash about and tools to help them exercise.

Do gerbils need a big cage to do exercise?

Your gerbil will need at least a 20-gallon cage to be able to stretch his legs. If you have room for an even larger cage, get it, the bigger the better.

Apart from choosing the right size cage, you need to provide your gerbil with enough exercise tools and mental stimulation. An exercise wheel, exercise ball, tunnels and tubes made of toilet paper rolls are excellent for gerbils.

When you choose an exercise wheel, make sure it is big enough for the gerbil to run on without arching its back. If the gerbil were to arch its back while running, it could develop health problems.

Exercise wheels for gerbil cages must also have one solid base and no rungs, as gerbils can easily get their tails and feet stuck in the rungs.

An exercise ball is a great way for you to allow your gerbil to spend some time outside of the cage and still keep an eye on him and protect him from danger.

Your gerbil’s enclosure will not be complete without tubes. Gerbils love dashing through the tunnels, gnawing on them, and using them as hiding spots.

Cage Chew Toys

A gerbil’s teeth will continue growing throughout its life. That’s why the best gerbil habitats always contain plenty of chew toys that help the gerbil keep its teeth down.

What do gerbils need in their cage?

Gerbils need plenty of wooden chew toys in their cage. Do not give your gerbils plastic toys, as they will chew holes in them and swallow the plastic.

Gerbils also like to chew on pieces of cardboard. Put a small cardboard box in the cage that can double as a nest box and as a chew toy.

If you have multiple gerbils, you will need plenty of toys so each gerbil can spend time gnawing on hard toys when he wishes.

Cage Dust Bath

If you are adopting gerbils for the first time, one thing you’ll love to know is that gerbils are very clean animals and do not need bathing. But there is something you must do to help keep them clean.

What do gerbils need to keep clean?

Gerbils need access to a chinchilla dust bath to keep them clean. Keep a small tub filled with chinchilla dust in the cage at all times so your gerbil can clean himself whenever he wants to.

gerbil inside his glass enclosure

How Much Do Gerbil Cages Cost?

Most owners buy a gerbil cage from a pet store or online to house their new pets. Although there are a lot of different cages to choose from, remember that your cage must have the following requirements.

  • At least 20 gallons (or more, depending on how many gerbils you have)
  • A wire cage with no plastic pieces
  • A 6-inch base (minimum)

Not every gerbil cage you see on the internet or at a pet store will meet these requirements, so you must verify them for yourself. Many manufacturers like to sell the same cage for a guinea pig as they would for a gerbil, but these small animals have very different needs.

Budget Cages

You will find basic gerbil cages from just $25. But these cages tend to be small and do not reach the minimum space requirements for gerbils.

These small cages are ok for transporting your animal for short periods of time but are not suitable for anything else.

Mid-Range Cages

You will pay about $40 to $100 for a good gerbil cage that has ample space for the animal and does not contain any harmful plastic parts.

These cages often have 2 levels and sometimes include an accessory or two.

Top-End Cages

The plushest, most high-end gerbil cages cost hundreds of dollars. These have a number of levels and are usually on wheels, making them easier to transport about.

These more expensive models have plenty of space and provide structure for the cage, organizing it into areas for play, eating, and resting. They normally come with a couple of accessories like a running wheel or hiding places.

How to Make a Homemade Gerbil Cage

Are you trying to cut the cost of putting your cage together?

Perhaps you want to find out how to build a gerbil cage without spending too much money. Here are a couple of tips that will help.

  • Buy a large, basic wire enclosure. Do not get one with any accessories or frills, as you can make these yourself and save money.
  • Use shredded paper as bedding. Using recycled paper is a great way of keeping the cost down.
  • Use any heavy-weighted bowl for food. It just needs to be easy to clean and too heavy for your gerbils to kick over. You’ll likely have something that fits the bill knocking around at home.
  • Make exercise tubes out of toilet paper rolls. This is a really economical way of making sure your animals get the exercise they need.
  • Put pieces of cardboard and toilet paper on the floor of the cage. They love to chew on the paper and nibble on the cardboard to get their teeth down.
  • Put a cardboard box in the cage. This will make a great nesting box and hideout.
  • Use a small tub as a dust bath. It needs to be slightly bigger than your pet, so he’ll have room to wriggle around in it. An old container will work just fine.

The Best Gerbil Cage Setup

We all want our gerbils to live happy, comfortable lives. Getting everything they need for a well-kitted-out enclosure requires a little work.

Thanks to this article, we have seen exactly what kind of cages your gerbils need.

Gerbils need 20-gallon wire cages with deep bases. They must live in a quiet room that is between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Gerbils will also need 6 inches of bedding, a water bottle, a food dish, and a dust bath. Toys for him to chew on and exercise tools are also essential.

Did you find this article interesting?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we always strive to provide you with the best information about gerbil care, food, and exercise. For more guides on how to look after hamsters, guinea pigs, and other small animals, check out our website.

Thanks for reading!

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