How Often To Clean Gerbil Cage – Gerbils are charming and low-maintenance pets that bring joy to countless households around the world. However, ensuring their well-being requires attention to detail and a commitment to maintaining a clean and hygienic living environment. One of the most crucial aspects of gerbil care is regular cage cleaning. In this guide, we will explore how often you should clean your gerbil’s cage to ensure their health and happiness.

Gerbils, small rodents native to arid regions of Asia and Africa, are known for their playful and inquisitive nature. They are delightful pets for families and individuals alike due to their sociable demeanor and relatively simple care requirements. Yet, gerbils, like all animals, need a clean and safe habitat to thrive. A dirty or neglected cage can lead to a range of health issues, including respiratory problems, skin irritations, and stress-related behaviors.

How Often To Clean Gerbil Cage

The frequency at which you should clean your gerbil’s cage depends on several factors, including the cage size, the number of gerbils housed together, and the type of bedding used. Generally, you should aim to perform partial cleaning tasks, such as removing soiled bedding and uneaten food, every 2-3 days. This helps keep the cage smelling fresh and prevents the buildup of waste, which can attract pests and create an unsanitary environment.

The regular cleaning schedule, it’s essential to monitor your gerbils’ habits and adjust cleaning as needed. For instance, if you notice a particularly strong odor or an increase in waste, you may need to clean the cage more frequently. Conversely, if you use a high-quality bedding material that remains clean and odor-free for longer periods, you can extend the time between cleanings.

How often should gerbil bedding be changed?

6—Bedding Care

Use only aspen wood shavings for your gerbil’s bedding as other wood bedding types, like pine or cedar, can be harmful to your pet. The bedding needs to be cleaned at least once a week, but more often if you have more than two gerbils in the same cage.

Changing gerbil bedding is an essential part of maintaining the health and well-being of your pet gerbils. The frequency at which you should change their bedding depends on various factors, including the size of the cage, the number of gerbils, and the type of bedding used. In general, it’s recommended to change gerbil bedding at least once a week, but more frequent changes may be necessary in certain situations.

One critical factor to consider is the odor and cleanliness of the cage. Gerbils are relatively clean animals, but their bedding can become soiled with urine and feces, leading to unpleasant odors and potential health issues if left uncleaned. If you notice a strong odor or if the bedding looks dirty, it’s a sign that it’s time for a change. Additionally, gerbils are sensitive to ammonia, which can build up in soiled bedding and harm their respiratory health, so maintaining clean bedding is essential.

The type of bedding you use also plays a role in how often you should change it. Some bedding materials, like aspen shavings or paper-based bedding, are more absorbent and odor-controlling than others, like cedar or pine shavings, which can release harmful chemicals. If you use a high-quality bedding material, you may be able to go a bit longer between changes, but it’s still essential to monitor the cage’s cleanliness and odor regularly.

Changing gerbil bedding at least once a week is a good general guideline, but more frequent changes may be necessary if the cage is small, you have multiple gerbils, or you notice odors or soiled bedding. Regular cleaning not only keeps your gerbils healthy and happy but also helps maintain a pleasant living environment for both you and your pets.

Do gerbils like when you clean their cage?

Spot-cleaning your gerbilarium will keep everything tidy and hygienic between deep cleans. Your gerbils will also be happier in their environment. You can leave your gerbils in the gerbilarium while you spot-clean them.

Gerbils, in general, do not particularly enjoy the process of having their cage cleaned. Like many small animals, gerbils can be sensitive to changes in their environment. When you clean their cage, you’re disrupting their established territory and scent markings, which can be stressful for them initially. It’s common for gerbils to exhibit some signs of stress or discomfort during and after a cage cleaning, such as increased burrowing or digging behaviors and temporary shyness.

It’s essential to emphasize that while gerbils may not like the act of cleaning itself, they do benefit greatly from a clean and hygienic living environment. A clean cage reduces the risk of illness, helps maintain a fresh and healthy atmosphere, and provides them with a safe and comfortable space to live. Therefore, even if your gerbils seem a bit uneasy during and after cleaning, it’s a necessary part of responsible gerbil care. You can minimize their stress by handling them gently, providing familiar bedding and items, and offering treats or positive interactions afterward to help them adjust to the changes.

Gerbils may not enjoy the process of having their cage cleaned due to the temporary disruption and changes to their environment. However, a clean cage is crucial for their overall well-being and health. With patience and care, you can help your gerbils adapt to the changes and ensure they continue to thrive in a clean and safe living space.

What happens if you don’t clean a gerbil cage?

Dirt and bacteria can build up easily on these things, and your gerbil will be eating out of and climbing all over them, so it’s important that they’re cleaned regularly. Once the gerbils and the accessories are safely out of the enclosure, now it’s time to remove the bedding.

Neglecting to clean a gerbil cage can have serious consequences for both the gerbils’ health and overall well-being. Gerbils are naturally clean animals, and their cages can become breeding grounds for various issues if left uncleaned.

Health Issues: One of the most immediate and critical concerns is the development of health problems. The buildup of urine and feces in dirty bedding can lead to ammonia production, which can irritate the gerbils’ respiratory systems and potentially cause respiratory infections. Additionally, bacteria and parasites can thrive in unclean environments, leading to various diseases and infections. Skin issues, digestive problems, and other health complications can also arise from exposure to unsanitary conditions.

Odor and Discomfort: A dirty cage will emit strong and unpleasant odors that can permeate your home. The odor is not only unpleasant for you but can also cause discomfort and stress for the gerbils themselves. Gerbils have a keen sense of smell, and a fouled environment can be distressing for them. They may become more anxious or agitated, which can lead to behavioral issues, such as increased digging or burrowing as they try to escape the soiled areas.

Infestations and Mold: Neglected cages can attract pests like mites, flies, and even rodents. These pests can carry diseases and further compromise the gerbils’ health. Additionally, the damp and dirty bedding can promote the growth of mold and fungi, which can be harmful if ingested or inhaled by the gerbils.

Decline in Overall Well-Being: Beyond the physical health concerns, living in a dirty and stressful environment can negatively impact the gerbils’ overall well-being. They may become lethargic, lose interest in their surroundings, or exhibit behavioral changes. Over time, this can lead to a decline in their quality of life and potentially shorten their lifespan.

Neglecting to clean a gerbil cage can result in a cascade of health problems, discomfort, and stress for the gerbils. Regular cleaning and maintenance are essential to ensure their physical and emotional well-being and create a healthy, happy environment for your pets.

How Often To Clean Gerbil Cage

Are gerbils sensitive to smells?

As well as sensitive hearing, gerbils also have an excellent sense of smell. They scent-mark their territory using a gland on their abdomen.

Yes, gerbils are indeed sensitive to smells. Their sense of smell is a crucial aspect of their sensory perception and plays a significant role in their daily lives.

Communication: Gerbils use their sense of smell as a means of communication with each other. They have scent glands on their bodies, particularly on their bellies and around their noses. They use these glands to mark their territory and communicate their presence to other gerbils. When they encounter a new scent or one from a different gerbil, it can affect their behavior. For instance, they may investigate the scent, react with curiosity, or exhibit territorial behaviors in response.

Detection of Danger: Gerbils rely on their sense of smell to detect potential predators or threats in their environment. If they catch a whiff of an unfamiliar or potentially dangerous scent, it can trigger their natural instinct to be cautious or hide. This sensitivity to odors helps them avoid potentially harmful situations.

Preference for Clean Environments: Gerbils are naturally inclined to prefer clean and odor-free environments. They will often burrow and create nests in bedding materials that have their scent or are free from strong, unfamiliar odors. Excessive or offensive smells, such as ammonia from soiled bedding, can cause stress and discomfort for gerbils, affecting their overall well-being.

Food Recognition: Gerbils have a keen sense of smell when it comes to food. They can distinguish between different types of foods based on their scent, which helps them locate and identify their preferred food sources in their habitat.

Gerbils have a highly developed sense of smell that serves several crucial functions in their lives, from communication and detecting danger to finding food and maintaining a comfortable living environment. As a pet owner, it’s essential to be mindful of their sensitivity to smells and provide a clean, odor-free cage to ensure their well-being and comfort.

What signs indicate it’s time for a cage cleaning?

Cleaning your pet’s cage is essential for their health and well-being. Signs that indicate it’s time for a cage cleaning vary depending on the type of animal you have, but there are some common indicators to look out for.

Foul Odor: One of the most obvious signs is a strong, unpleasant odor emanating from the cage. The buildup of waste, urine, and uneaten food can produce a pungent smell that not only affects your pet’s living conditions but also their health.

Dirty Bedding: If you notice that the bedding in the cage is soiled, discolored, or matted, it’s time for a change. Bedding should be kept clean and dry to prevent bacterial growth and ensure your pet has a comfortable environment.

Visible Waste Buildup: Check for visible waste accumulation, such as feces, uneaten food, or shed skin, in the cage. A buildup of waste can be a breeding ground for bacteria and parasites, posing health risks to your pet.

Unusual Behavior: Pay attention to your pet’s behavior. If they seem more lethargic, agitated, or show signs of discomfort, it may be due to the dirty cage environment. Clean surroundings contribute to your pet’s mental and physical well-being.

Insects or Pest Infestations: The presence of flies, ants, or other insects in or around the cage is a clear sign that it needs cleaning. These pests can carry diseases and disturb your pet.

Regular cage cleaning is essential to maintain a clean and healthy living environment for your pet. The frequency of cleaning may vary based on the type and size of the pet, but a good rule of thumb is to establish a routine cleaning schedule and adjust it as needed based on the signs mentioned above. Cleanliness not only promotes your pet’s health but also strengthens the bond between you and your animal companion.

Does cage size affect cleaning frequency?

Yes, the size of the cage can significantly affect cleaning frequency. Larger cages generally require less frequent cleaning compared to smaller ones, but this doesn’t mean they can go without cleaning for extended periods. Here’s how cage size influences cleaning frequency:

Larger Cages: Larger cages provide more space for your pet to move around, eat, and play. With more space, waste is distributed over a larger area, and it takes longer for it to accumulate to levels that require cleaning. However, it’s crucial not to assume that a larger cage means less cleaning altogether. Even in a larger cage, you still need to monitor for signs of waste buildup, odor, and cleanliness to ensure your pet’s health and comfort. Depending on the type and number of pets you have, a larger cage may still need weekly or bi-weekly cleaning.

Smaller Cages: Smaller cages have limited space, so waste buildup occurs more rapidly, and the environment can become unsanitary quicker. Smaller cages typically require more frequent cleaning, often on a daily or every-other-day basis. Inadequate cleaning in a small cage can lead to hygiene issues and health problems for your pet.

Animal Species: The type of pet you have also influences cleaning frequency. Some animals are naturally messier than others, and their cage size should be chosen accordingly. For instance, rodents like hamsters and gerbils tend to have smaller cages and may require more frequent cleaning due to their tendency to scatter bedding and food.

While cage size does affect cleaning frequency, it’s essential to prioritize cleanliness and your pet’s well-being regardless of cage size. Large cages can reduce the frequency of cleaning, but regular monitoring and cleaning are still necessary. Smaller cages require more frequent attention to prevent hygiene issues. Tailoring your cleaning routine to your pet’s specific needs and cage size is the key to maintaining a healthy and comfortable living environment for your animal companion.

How Often To Clean Gerbil Cage

Are there differences for single vs. multiple gerbils?

Yes, there are notable differences in care and considerations when it comes to single gerbils versus multiple gerbils. Gerbils are social animals that often thrive in the company of their own kind, but there are still important distinctions to be aware of:

Social Needs:

Single Gerbil: Keeping a single gerbil can lead to loneliness and stress. Gerbils are naturally social creatures that enjoy the company of other gerbils. A single gerbil may become depressed or exhibit behaviors like excessive chewing or digging, which can be signs of unhappiness.

Multiple Gerbils: Ideally, gerbils should be kept in pairs or small groups of the same sex to fulfill their social needs. Having companions reduces stress and allows them to exhibit natural behaviors like grooming, playing, and burrowing together.

Cage Size:

Single Gerbil: A single gerbil can do well in a moderately sized cage, but it should still be spacious enough to accommodate exercise and enrichment activities.

Multiple Gerbils: When keeping multiple gerbils, you will need a larger cage to ensure there’s enough space for all of them. A bigger cage also reduces the likelihood of territorial disputes and promotes harmonious cohabitation.

Behavioral Considerations:

Single Gerbil: A single gerbil may require more interaction and enrichment from their human caregiver to compensate for the lack of social stimulation.

Multiple Gerbils: Gerbils in a group tend to engage in natural gerbil behaviors like grooming each other and playing, which can be entertaining to watch. They rely less on human interaction for social stimulation.

Gender and Pairing:

Same-Sex Pairs or Groups: If you plan to keep multiple gerbils, it’s essential to ensure they are the same sex to prevent unintended breeding. Male gerbils (males) typically get along well with each other, but introducing unfamiliar gerbils of any sex requires careful monitoring to prevent aggression.

While gerbils are generally happier and healthier when kept in pairs or small groups due to their social nature, single gerbils can still be content with proper care, enrichment, and attention from their human caregivers. However, if you choose to keep multiple gerbils, it’s crucial to understand their social dynamics, provide a suitable cage, and ensure that you have a same-sex group to prevent breeding and minimize the risk of conflicts.

Does bedding type impact cleaning schedule?

Yes, the type of bedding you use for your pet’s cage can impact your cleaning schedule. The choice of bedding material can influence how quickly waste accumulates and how often you need to clean the cage. Here’s how bedding type can affect your cleaning routine:

Absorbency and Odor Control:

Wood Shavings (Aspen, Pine, Cedar): Wood shavings are commonly used as bedding for small animals like hamsters and gerbils. They have good absorbent properties, which can help control moisture and odors. However, cedar shavings are generally not recommended due to their strong scent, which can be harmful to pets.

Paper-Based Bedding: Bedding made from paper, such as shredded paper or commercial paper bedding, is highly absorbent and effective at controlling odors. It often needs to be changed less frequently than some other bedding types.

Dust and Allergens:

Wood Shavings: Some types of wood shavings can be dusty, which may pose respiratory issues for both pets and owners. Choosing low-dust wood shavings or alternative bedding options can mitigate this problem.

Paper-Based Bedding: Paper bedding is typically low in dust, making it a good option for pets and owners with allergies or respiratory sensitivities.

Behavior and Enrichment:

Natural Bedding Materials (Hay, Straw): For certain animals like rabbits and guinea pigs, natural materials like hay and straw can serve as bedding and provide additional benefits. They encourage foraging behavior and serve as a source of nutrition. However, they may require more frequent changes due to lower absorbency compared to other bedding types.

Cost and Availability:

Cost-Effective Options: Bedding cost and availability can also impact your cleaning schedule. Some bedding materials may be more affordable or readily available in your area than others, influencing your choice.

The type of bedding you choose should align with your pet’s specific needs and your cleaning preferences. Bedding with good absorbency and odor control properties generally requires less frequent changes, while less absorbent options may necessitate more frequent cleaning to maintain a clean and odor-free environment.

Consider factors like dust, allergies, and your pet’s natural behaviors when selecting bedding, as these can impact both your pet’s well-being and your cleaning routine. Regular monitoring of the bedding’s condition and your pet’s behavior will help you determine the optimal cleaning schedule.


Maintaining a clean gerbil cage is an essential aspect of responsible gerbil ownership. Regular cleaning not only ensures the health and well-being of your gerbils but also contributes to a more enjoyable and stress-free environment for both you and your pets.

By adhering to a consistent cleaning routine, you can prevent the accumulation of waste, bacteria, and odors in the cage. This practice is especially crucial for gerbils, as their sensitive respiratory systems can be negatively affected by poor cage hygiene. A clean environment also reduces the risk of skin irritations and infections, keeping your gerbils comfortable and content.

How Often To Clean Gerbil Cage

The physical benefits of a clean cage, maintaining a tidy living space for your gerbils can enhance your bond with them. A clean environment allows you to observe your pets more closely and interact with them in a pleasant setting. It also makes handling and caring for your gerbils a more enjoyable experience.

Cleanliness is not just a chore but a vital component of responsible gerbil ownership. By following the guidelines provided in this guide and tailoring them to your gerbils’ unique needs, you can create a clean, safe, and comfortable home for your beloved pets. Your dedication to their well-being will be rewarded with healthy, happy gerbils that will delight you with their playful antics and charming personalities for years to come.