How often should I clean my gerbil cage?

Answered by James Kissner

Cleaning your gerbil cage is an important part of gerbil care to ensure a clean and healthy environment for your furry friends. While the frequency of cleaning may vary depending on the size of your gerbilarium and the number of gerbils you have, it is generally recommended to clean the cage every two to three weeks.

Gerbils are naturally clean animals, and their low urine and waste production contribute to the ease of maintaining a clean gerbilarium. However, regular cleaning is still necessary to prevent the buildup of gerbil droppings, food debris, and any potential odors.

Here are some reasons why you should clean your gerbilarium every two to three weeks:

1. Hygiene and Odor Control: Cleaning the cage regularly helps maintain a hygienic environment for your gerbils. Removing waste and soiled bedding prevents the growth of bacteria and fungi, minimizing the risk of infections. Regular cleaning also helps keep unpleasant odors at bay, ensuring a fresh and pleasant living space for both you and your gerbils.

2. Preventing Respiratory Issues: Accumulated dust, droppings, and urine can contribute to respiratory problems in gerbils. Regular cleaning and removal of bedding can help reduce potential allergens and irritants in the air, promoting better respiratory health for your gerbils.

3. Maintaining Cage Durability: Over time, urine and waste can corrode the cage or cause staining, especially if left uncleaned for extended periods. Regular cleaning helps preserve the condition of the cage and extends its lifespan.

Now, let’s dive into the cleaning process itself. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you clean your gerbil cage effectively:

1. Prepare a safe and temporary holding space for your gerbils: Before cleaning, make sure you have a secure and suitable temporary space to keep your gerbils while you clean their cage. A gerbil playpen or a secure carrier can be used for this purpose.

2. Remove your gerbils from the cage: Gently scoop up your gerbils and place them in the temporary holding space. Ensure they have food, water, and a comfortable environment during the cleaning process.

3. Empty and discard the bedding: Carefully remove all bedding material from the cage, including any soiled or wet areas. Dispose of the used bedding in a plastic bag and seal it before discarding to prevent any potential odor or mess.

4. Clean the cage: Thoroughly clean the gerbilarium using a mild, pet-safe cleaning solution. Avoid using harsh chemicals or strong cleaners as they can be harmful to your gerbils. A mixture of warm water and a small amount of unscented soap or a pet-safe disinfectant can be used to clean the cage. Scrub all surfaces, including the base, walls, and any accessories, to remove any dirt, stains, or residues. Rinse everything well with clean water to ensure no soap residue remains.

5. Allow the cage to dry: After cleaning, let the cage air dry completely before adding fresh bedding or returning your gerbils to their home. Dampness can lead to mold or bacterial growth, which can be harmful to your gerbils.

6. Add fresh bedding and accessories: Once the cage is dry, add a layer of clean, dust-free bedding to the base. Choose bedding made specifically for small animals, such as paper-based bedding or aspen shavings, as these are safe and absorbent. Place any accessories, such as hideouts, toys, and food/water dishes, back into the cage.

7. Return your gerbils to their clean home: Once the cage is set up with fresh bedding and accessories, carefully place your gerbils back into their clean environment. Monitor them closely to ensure they settle back in comfortably.

Remember, the frequency of cleaning may vary depending on the size of your gerbilarium, the number of gerbils, and their individual habits. If you notice excessive odor, soiling, or any signs of illness in your gerbils, it may be necessary to clean the cage more frequently.

Cleaning your gerbil cage every two to three weeks is generally sufficient to maintain a clean and healthy living space for your gerbils. Regular cleaning not only helps prevent odors and hygiene issues but also ensures a comfortable and safe environment for your furry friends to thrive.