What are the best gerbil toys?
That’s the question we’re going to answer in this article, and it’s a very important one for anyone planning on introducing a gerbil to their household as a family pet.
First of all, let’s find out more about these cute, lively little creatures.
What are Gerbils?
Gerbils are tiny burrowing rodents that look rather like mice in shape and size.
Gerbils originate from Asia and Africa.
The most common domesticated variety of gerbil that you’ll find in pet stores is the Mongolian gerbil.
The original color of gerbils is referred to as “agouti” color, where each hair has black, yellow, and gray bands, and the hair on the animal’s tummy is off-white.
However, selective breeding has produced several pretty color variations, including white, gold, and black.
Gerbils are primarily diurnal, being mostly active throughout the day in between taking frequent naps.
Gerbils are curious and lively, so they need plenty of stimulation in the form of toys to keep them busy and happy.
In the wild, gerbils live in colonies, and they are therefore best kept in same-sex pairs or small groups.
A solitary gerbil will enjoy human company, but will thrive better if kept with cagemates.
Gerbils can be tamed and generally have an agreeable temperament.
However, gerbils can be timid and they will bite if roughly handled.
Therefore, it is not recommended to choose gerbils as pets for children under six years of age.
Best Gerbil Toys
As mentioned above, gerbils are lively, curious creatures who love to explore.
However, it’s not a good idea to allow your gerbils to play outside of their cage, unless you can provide a secure environment that they can’t escape from, such as this clever playpen from Tespo.
One day when cleaning out their cage, we thought it would be fun to play with the furry critters on the bedroom floor.
Big mistake! All bar one escaped and lived out their days hiding behind the skirting boards of my friends’ house.
Her parents (and the remaining solitary gerbil) were not amused!
So, it’s very important that you provide lots of distractions and interest for your gerbils in the safe, secure environment of their home.
Gerbils love toys! Toys are the best way of keeping your gerbils interested and occupied in their cage.
So, what makes the best gerbil toys?
Let’s find out.
Gerbil Toys – Safety First
Before we begin to look at suitable gerbil toys, it’s important to know how to keep your gerbils safe as they play.
Nosy gerbils will stick their heads into things as they explore.
You must therefore make sure that any toys with holes cut into them do not have spaces that could trap your gerbil’s head.
Gerbils love to gnaw and chew! Avoid giving them plastic toys that could easily splinter and injure your gerbil.
Keep an eye on plastic toys and remove them once they begin to show signs of chew damage.
If you give cardboard toys to your gerbils, be sure they’re only shredding the cardboard, rather than eating it.
Avoid choosing toys that have strings or other parts that could trap your gerbils’ legs, tail, or toes, potentially causing injury to your pet’s fragile limbs.
Best Gerbil Toys – Wheels
Most gerbils enjoy running on wheels.
Always choose wheels that have a solid surface and a solid back wall; tails and legs can so easily become trapped in wheels with cross-supports or rungs.
Kaytee Silent Spinner Exercise Wheel
The Kaytee Silent Spinner Exercise Wheel is ideal for gerbils.
Not all gerbils enjoy playing on a wheel, so don’t be worried if your pet decides that this form of exercise is not for him.
The maxim, “horses for courses” also applies to gerbils where exercise wheels are concerned!
Pet Comfort 8” Exercise Wheel
Another good exercise wheel that is ideal for gerbils is the Pet Comfort Exercise Wheel.
Exotic Nutrition 9″ Silent Wheel
The Exotic Nutrition Silent Runner is another ultra-quiet wheel that’s perfect for gerbils.
Best Gerbil Toys – Hides
Gerbils love to explore, and hides make a great choice of cage enrichment toy.
Choose hides made from untreated, unpainted wood or improvise with small cardboard boxes.
Remember to remove shredded cardboard, and try to choose boxes with little or no ink print on them.
Kaytee Woodland Get-A-Way
The Kaytee Woodland Get-A-Way Small Mouse House is a simple wooden hideaway that’s designed for mice and gerbils.
B&P Hideaway Log
B&P’s Hamster Hideaway Log is a more sophisticated gerbil hideaway that’s sure to keep your pets entertained for hours!
The log contains two layers with eight rooms inside.
Ladders connect each room so your gerbils can spend hours exploring their new home.
You can open the hideaway roof too for extra variety.
An exterior climbing ladder provides added interest and enrichment.
Loveone’s Hideout Home
Loveone’s Hamster Hideout Home is a simple, multi-room hideaway house that’s designed for mice, hamsters, and gerbils.
A small feeding trough is included enabling you to provide your gerbils with added interest in the form of tasty treats.
Bright colors incorporated into the design of the hideaway add to the cute appeal of this hide.
Niteangel Natural Wooden Tunnel Toy
The Niteangel Natural Wooden Tunnel Tube Toy is made from a hollowed-out tree branch.
It’s a safe and interesting tunnel toy that will provide your pet with hours of entertainment.
The Niteangel offering is also one of the cheaper wooden hideaway toys we’ve found, so replacement when necessary won’t break the bank.
Although all these hideouts are well-made, remember that you will have to replace all wooden gerbil toys periodically, as they will be damaged by gnawing over time.
Gerbil Chew Toys
Gerbils love to chew!
Although you can provide simple chew toys, for example empty loo rolls, there are lots of specially designed gerbil chew toys that are inexpensive to buy.
Kaytee Nut Knot Knibbler
The Kaytee Nut Knot Knibbler Toy is a very cleverly designed gerbil chew toy that we love!
The vibrant, bright colors used to enhance the look and interest factor of the toy are derived from non-toxic natural vegetable dyes.
There are so many chewing possibilities provided by this toy, it will last even the most dedicated nibbler for ages before you need to replace it.
Kaytee Carrot Patch Chew Toys – 3 Pack
We also like the Kaytee 3 Count Chew Toy, Carrot Patch Variety.
The toys are made from wood (perfect for chewing and gnawing), sisal to keep your pet’s teeth clean as he chews, and loofa that acts as a soft chew for teeth flossing.
This gerbil chew toy ensures that your pets are kept busy gnawing while cleaning their teeth too!
Wooden Gerbil Toys
Any untreated wood products make great gerbil toy ideas.
Natural tree branches can be offered for chewing too.
Apple or willow make good gerbil chew toys, but be sure to check that the wood has not been sprayed with pesticide before you use it.
Avoid evergreen wood scraps, as these contain sap which can be messy and may harm your gerbils if they eat it.
It’s also worth looking at natural grass and plant fiber balls, tunnels, and toys that are marketed for rabbits.
These are also great for gerbils!
Even the reptile and aquatic sections of your local pet store might turn up some surprising hideouts perfect for your gerbil.
Best Gerbil Toys – Climbing Frames and Tubes
Gerbils will enjoy climbing on just about anything.
As well as wooden houses that we’ve already covered, you can buy wooden ladders, see-saws and other wooden accessories.
The bird section of the pet store can be a good point of reference for this kind of product.
We absolutely love the Rosewood Pet Activity Assault Course.
Your gerbils can climb, swing, hide, and even chew this natural wood activity center – perfect!
Gerbil Toy Ideas – Dust baths
Just like chinchillas, gerbils enjoy a dust bath.
Buy a heavy ceramic or glass dish and put a couple of inches of chinchilla dust in it.
Alternatively, you can buy chinchilla bathing huts that make a colorful addition to your gerbil’s environment.
Your gerbils will love rolling and digging in the dust, which is also great for cleaning and conditioning their fur.
Remember to remove the dust bath and clean it out at least once a week.
Gerbils will mess in the dust as they play, so it’s important for hygiene that you change the dust and remove any droppings from the bath hut.
Best Gerbil Toys – Digging
In the wild, digging is a major occupation for gerbils.
You can satisfy this natural urge by providing deep areas of bedding in their cage.
You’ll find that mixing a small amount of Timothy hay to the bedding will help the tunnels hold together better.
Gerbils can make lively, entertaining little pets.
They’re easy to care for and fun to watch as they play.
Also, because gerbils are active during the daytime, you won’t miss out on any of the action!
Gerbils need lots of stimulation and cage enhancement to keep them occupied and happy.
Be sure to choose gerbil toys that are safe for your pets. Keep an eye on the condition of the toys and be sure to remove and replace any that have become worn and damaged.
Do you have some favorite gerbil toys?
We’d love to hear about the best gerbil toys you’ve found.
Did you come up with your own gerbil toy ideas or did you perhaps buy one of the toys we recommended?
Tell us all about your best gerbil toys in the comments section below!
References and Further Reading
Lippman, Galosy & Thompson, Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, “Passive-Avoidance Learning in Gerbils and Rats”, 1970.