Although their cage requirements are simple, the gerbil is so active that it is best to provide a fairly large cage with ample floor space. A cage measuring about 15in. By 10in. By 9in. High should be regarded as minimal. A metal cage is preferable to wooden because of their gnawing habits. Many of the larger cages recommended for the hamster would be suitable. Clean sawdust, coarse rather than dusty, should be used as a floor covering. Bedding may consist of woodwool or meadow hay. Gerbils love to tunnel and should be encouraged to do so. They scratch furiously with their fore-paws and kick backwards with their hind legs. Cardboard tubes and empty tin-cans, with the ends removed and devoid of sharp edges, will give them endless enjoyment.
They delight in having small cardboard boxes and discarded egg cases to play with. These will be investigated, jostled about and chewed to shreds. All this behaviour helps to keep the gerbils occupied and contented. The chewed-up paper will eventually be used as nestling and tunnelling material. New boxes should be given from time to time and part of the chewed up paper removed when the cages are cleaned. Plenty of gnawing helps to keep the animals teeth in good order. Besides, a bored gerbil is usually an unhappy gerbil.
Gerbils give little trouble in the way of cleaning out. Usually, this means prompt removal of any food which may have become foul and a more thorough inspection of the cage about once a week or fortnight. The whole cage should be spring-cleaned monthly or bimonthly, depending on the size of cage, to give a fresh start. It is common for one particular corner or corners to be used as a lavatory and this assists the cleaning operation. All wet sawdust should be removed and dry also, when this is obviously mixed with droppings. Always replace some of the chewed-up paper so that the gerbils feel that they have returned to familiar surroundings.