Do Gerbils Need Sand Baths? How To & How Often?

Gerbils are very clean pets with very little odor and they love to groom themselves. But if your gerbil has somehow ended up getting a little mucky, you might wonder what you must do to get him clean again.

Does your gerbil need a sand bath?

Coming up in this article, we have put together everything you must know about gerbils and sand baths so you can give them the care they need.

Key Takeaway:

Sand baths are essential to your gerbil’s health. Your gerbil needs to roll in a chinchilla sand bath at least once a week. Pour one inch of sand into a bowl and put it in your gerbil’s cage. Allow it to roll in the sand for 10 to 20 minutes before you remove it.

Now you know more about how to keep your gerbil clean with a sand bath, but what about a water bath?

Can I give my gerbil a bath with water?

To find out the answer to this question and see the best method for bathing your gerbil, take a look at the next section of this article.

black gerbil having a sand bath

Do Gerbils Need Sand Baths?

So your gerbil is looking a little bit grimy, and you’ve heard about people providing their small animals with dust baths to get themselves clean again. But, is that really necessary?

Do gerbils need dust baths?

Gerbils do need dust baths. They are very clean animals and need to have constant access to a dust bath so they can groom themselves whenever they want to.

Not only do gerbils need a dust bath to keep clean, but they also need one to keep themselves entertained. Your little rodent will spend hours rolling around in his dust bath.

But a gerbil sand bath is not for entertainment purposes only, as the fresh sand helps to remove excess oils from your gerbil’s coat. This keeps the gerbil’s coat healthy and prevents dry skin.

How Often Do Gerbils Need a Sand Bath?

Your gerbil will love to take a regular sand bath.

But how often should he bathe in calcium sand?

Your gerbil will bathe in chinchilla sand two or three times a week.

Bathing two or three times a week in chinchilla sand will ensure that his coat stays healthy and will prevent dry skin.

How to Give a Gerbil a Sand Bath

One of our favorite things about gerbils is that they are very independent animals. To give your gerbil a sand bath, all you need to do is provide him with the right tools and he will do the rest himself.

Here are the steps you need to make the perfect gerbil sand bath.

  1. Find a small tub or bowl with high sides
  2. Pour just enough sand into it (about an inch)
  3. If you keep the sand bath permanently in the cage, spot-clean it every time your gerbil uses it (as it will probably also be used as a toilet). Alternatively, pour sand into the bowl and put the tub in the cage only 3 times a week. Remove it after your gerbil has rolled in it for 10 to 20 minutes.

What Kind of Dust Bath Is Good For Gerbils?

To ensure your gerbil has a healthy, shiny coat, he needs to have access to a clean sand bath at least once a week, but ideally up to 3 times a week.

What kind of dust bath does he need?

Gerbil owners must make sure the play sand they buy meets the following requirements.

  • The chinchilla dust must not contain any additives and it must be chemical-free. Chinchilla dust or sand is the best.
  • The dust or sand must promote natural grooming behaviors

Dust vs Sand Baths

Many gerbil owners prefer to give their pets a play sand bath rather than a dust bath. They choose sand that is dust free.

When gerbils roll in their sand baths they kick up a lot of sand, but because it is not dust, it is easier to clean up. Letting your gerbil bathe in sand is also good for its skin as the sand is soft and delicate.

Sand that is dust and silica free prevents respiratory problems.

Dust baths are also good for removing excess oil from your gerbil’s fur. They also entertain your gerbil and help his coat stay healthy.

But many gerbils are sensitive to the dust they kick up when bathing and can develop a respiratory illness. Because of the association of respiratory issues with dust baths, many prefer to give their gerbils a sand bath.
gray gerbil having a sand bath 2

Can You Bathe a Gerbil?

We all want our gerbils to remain as clean as possible and avoid health issues. If your gerbil gets a little grubby, how will you get him clean again?

Can gerbils take baths?

You must not give your gerbil water baths. Bathing your gerbil will strip the natural oils from its fur and could lead to the development of skin problems.

It is also a bad idea to give your gerbil a water bath because their coats take a long time to dry out and your pet could struggle to warm up again. Exposure to the cold could lead to respiratory problems.

Immersing your gerbil in a water bath will cause him a lot of stress. You must avoid doing this at all costs.

The Alternative to a Gerbil Sand Bath

The only time you will be able to give your gerbil a bath and involve water is if it has something harmful stuck on its fur. Even still, you must never get your gerbil completely wet by immersing it in a bowl, rather you must spot-clean him to remove the dirt from his fur.

How can you give gerbils a water bath via spot cleaning?

To clean patches of hazardous dirt from your gerbil’s fur, do the following.

  1. Pour an inch of lukewarm water into a bowl mixed with some mild, small pet shampoo from the pet store.
  2. Dampen a cloth in the water.
  3. Use the damp cloth to rub over the dirty patches of fur. Gently remove the harmful substance from your gerbil’s fur.
  4. When you have finished bathing him, your gerbil will be wet and cold. Get him dry again before you put him in his cage. Rub a towel over his fur to dry him again.
  5. Monitor him to make sure he recovers well from the spot bath.

Keep Your Gerbils Clean

Gerbils are clean pets that like to spend a lot of time grooming themselves. But as you cannot bathe a gerbil with water, many wonder what they can do to help their pets stay clean.

One of the best ways to assist your gerbils with their routine cleaning habits is to provide them with a sand bath. Most gerbils will roll around in the sand up to 3 times a week to keep their coats healthy and remove any excess oils.

But in addition to bathing in the sand, there are a lot of other ways to help your gerbil stay clean. The following tips will help you.

Clean the Cage Often

One of the best ways to keep your gerbil clean is to ensure his environment is clean. You must change the bedding in the cage at least once every 2 or 3 weeks depending on how many gerbils you have.

Spot-clean the enclosure even more frequently.

When you clean the cage, ensure you disinfect the flat base of it and disinfect the water bottle and food bowls. Dry the cage thoroughly before you put fresh bedding in it.

If you clean the cage regularly, it will be easier for your gerbils to remain clean too.

Use Good Bedding

Using a good mix of bedding materials to line your gerbil’s enclosure base will help to absorb the urine better. Put down the following bedding in the enclosure.

  • Aspen shavings
  • Timothy hay
  • Shredded paper

Put down at least 6 inches of bedding to make sure your rodent has enough to dig into and build tunnels.

If you put down good quality bedding, your gerbil’s enclosure will remain cleaner for longer, and as a result, so will your pet.

Use a Water Bottle

Although gerbils in their natural habitat drink out of puddles of water when in captivity, they must drink from a water bottle. Your gerbil will be prone to kicking the water over and soiling it with waste materials and food if it is in a dish.

You will find excellent drip-free water bottles from good pet stores. These will prevent your gerbil from messing up his cage and will help him to stay cleaner for longer.

Regularly Visit the Vet

To prevent bacterial infections and other illnesses, you must take your gerbil to the vet regularly.

Not sure how often you should take your gerbils to the vet?

Then here’s a small guide.

Life Stage of the GerbilExamination Frequency
PupHave the pup examined for the first time within 48 hours
Adult Once a year
3 years oldTwice a year

Diseases and bacterial infections are messy. To help keep your gerbil healthy and clean, make sure you take him to the vet regularly.

If you suspect your gerbil is unwell, take it straight to the vet.

Monitor Your Gerbil

Your gerbils need to have enough room to run about and play inside their cages. But even if they do, some owners like to let their gerbils outside of their cages for a little while so they can have even more space to explore and play.

If you let your gerbil run outside of its cage, keep an eye on it. A house pet such as a cat or even a small dog might frighten your gerbil or harm it.

While outside its enclosure, make sure the gerbil does not run into any harmful or toxic substance that could get stuck to its fur or skin. This will help it to stay clean.

brown gerbil having a sand bath

Gerbils Love Sand Baths

Your gerbils love to groom themselves. But although they can keep themselves clean, there is a way for you to lend them a helping hand with this task.

This article has helped us to see that you must never give your gerbil a bath in water. Rather, you must put a small sand bath in the gerbil cage so your pet can entertain himself and roll around in the sand to maintain a healthy coat.

Did you find this article interesting?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we always strive to provide you with the best articles about how to look after gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, and other small animals. For more guides on what to feed them and how to house them, check out our website.

Thanks for reading!

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