Saturday, June 22, 2013

Gerbil Playtime Tips

So, finally an information post. All my "gerbil posts" made a crowd, for some reason. And who could resist a inquisitive gerbil as a pet anyways? I almost walked home with one on my "new-hammie shoppin'-spree!" Anywho... Those gerbils are nifty critters that jump. Pent-up critters can get a disorder which makes them spin in circles uncontrollably. To avoid that happening, you must let your gerbil out of the cage(or at least have human interaction with them) every other day. When you can't let him out, supply little activities for them. (I discussed this with rat playtime as well.) For example, cardboard tubes, tissue paper, and glass jars are easy ways to let your gerbil have in-cage fun. Keep reading for more gerbil activities and ways to play with your
bouncing buddy.

In-Cage and Out-of Cage Fun

Since gerbils are energetic rodents, I don't recommend playing with them simply in their cage, but if you really can't exercise him for a day or two, small "gifts" for them to play on can be fun. By gifts, I mean pet store items or even safe stuff around your house. Toys that say "Small Rodent" on them actually aren't ideal for gerbils because gerbils are climbers and jumpers, so use wooden toys or a bird item for your gerbil like a climbing branch or chewing wood block. Gerbils even enjoy outdoor critter's nest boxes and small bird feeders. PVC tubes are a must for gerbils if you own any loose ones around your garage or house. Small segments of these tubes can be put in the cage for hiding and running. Dust bath ceramic containers are perfect for gerbils when you fill them with special chinchilla/gerbil/hamster sand.(Usually called Critter Sand) Wooden blocks in a child's playbin are fun for gerbils too. You can build little bridges for him and the kids will love to help.
For outside cage play in your gerbil-safe area(see below), the above idea all work. You can get training items from everyday things around your home. Plastic toy horse ramps and jumps work GREAT for any gerbil-training sessions. Make sure the toys are sturdy or the gerbil won't go on them.

Location for the Gerbil Playplace - Outdoors a Good Idea?

My answer: NO! Gerbils are obviously energetic creatures, so even the calmest gerbil could go fanatic when he meets The Great Outdoors. Even critter play pens won't work outdoors, since they could still easily escape at any circumstances. I am very annoyed with products sold in pet stores that people assume to be right, but are wrong! (For example, Bunny Bath? Shampoo for pet rabbits?) I saw a "gerbil-sized" leash and harness for gerbils that was a smaller version of a ferret counterpart. Really? Even ferrets on leashes can be risky. Never Ever Ever EVER let your gerbil play outside. It could lead to heatstroke, hypothermia, or other health problems. Not to mention they could run away. Instead, your gerbil should play indoors. The playpen is one option, and a bathroom or bathtub is also a solution. Your gerbil needs a big space, so if you do have a large room without a lot of stuff in it, great! 

Never let your gerbil play in a....

Messy room
A room with a lot of furniture
Place with a lot of people or a lot of pets
Dirty or unkept area
A room where other gerbils that have never met your gerbils play or are inhabitants of

So you get the idea. With the right toys and location, a gerbil is a happy pet. Remember to let your gerbil have access to his cage while playing. Gerbils feel nervous without their cage around. If he seems aggressive or scared, put him away him right away and put the cage in a safe spot away from whatever's scaring him. The more you engage with your gerbils, the more you delight and surprise you. 
It's so amazing that the right time and attention these small creatures can be wonderful pets and companions.

(Also, to see a few of my favorite videos of trained gerbils in action, YouTube:

"Herman the show jumping gerbil"
"Agility Gerbil - Binky" 

It's really amazing!)

1 comment:

  1. Everyone's so surprised I changed the blog a little! (:


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