Gerbils love to play. They enjoy running and jumping around, digging tunnels, and chewing on basically everything they can find. They have plenty of energy and love to explore new things and new areas. It is obvious that gerbils will get bored in a cage with only bedding. But what are the best toys that a gerbil can play with?
As a whole, the best toys for gerbils support their needs: Exercising, exploring, and trimming down the teeth. Great toys are a spinning wheel, wooden structures, chew toys, cardboard, and things to climb on.
A sand bath is not considered a toy, but essential for gerbils. You can use a glass bowl as a sand bath and use a wooden bridge to get into the bowl.
In the following, you will find a wide range of possible toys for your pet gerbils.
The Best Toys for Gerbils
Gerbils love to chew, run, and explore. Since gerbils tend to chew on everything, you might want to avoid any artificial colors, glue, chemicals, or ink on the toys. Toys can be acquired at the pet store, on any second-hand platform, or made by yourself.
Here is a list of many different toys for gerbils:
Wheels for Gerbils
Wheels are not a necessity but gerbils love to run, therefore a wheel for exercise is definitively a good idea.
You can acquire a running wheel made of wood or plastic. Make sure that the quality is good and the gerbils cannot slip, or squeeze their paws or tails while running.
Wooden toys are great for gerbils. They can trim down their teeth by chewing on the wood and the structure of the wood allows the gerbils to climb on it.
If you collect wood outdoors, make sure that no pesticides were used on these plants.
There are plenty of wooden toys that can be acquired in pet stores such as
- Wooden ball made out of twigs
- Wooden ladders and bridges
- Tunnels made out of branches
- Wooden Houses
- Wooden Labyrinths
- Wooden structures that can be used as a plateau, to climb on, or to hide under
- Climbing frames
- Plateau as a second level in the cage that could be used for the water bowl or the sand bath and the wheel, depending on the size of the plateau
- Wooden Whip
You can also go for other natural materials such as grass, hay, straw, coconut, or cork. These are some ideas for toys made of natural materials other than wood:
If you make toys out of grass yourself, make sure that everything is dried properly before processing it to avoid mold in the cage.
Cardboard for Gerbils
You can give your gerbils any cardboard, as long as it is (mainly) ink-free, not heavily scented, free of any food leftovers, and without any strings or glues attached. If you use toilet paper rolls you can put some treats inside and close both sides by bending the ends.
You can use cardboards to build mazes and tunnels, as well as houses out of shoe boxes. Be creative, your pets will love it.
- Toilet paper rolls
- Egg boxes
- Cardboard boxes
Hammocks are great toys for gerbils. They can be made out of cloth, grass, or wood. The gerbils will chew on the hammock and will eventually destroy it, but that’s also part of the fun. You can buy any hammock for small pets, such as this one:
Things to Climb On
Gerbils have hairy paws and cannot climb as well as rats, mice, or hamsters. Some gerbils don’t enjoy climbing at all, while others love it. They have troubles climbing on metal wires, therefore wooden structures to climb on are the best option.
Other Toys for Gerbils
There are plenty of other possibilities for gerbil toys. There are many toys made of plastic that can be acquired. Make sure that the quality is good and the material does not break and leave sharp edges even if gerbils chew on it.
You can build houses, bridges, tunnels, or mazes out of popsicle sticks.
You can try hamster balls, but make sure to use big balls so that your gerbils have enough space to move around and don’t get scared. Not all gerbils like to run in balls, and it usually takes a while for gerbils to get used to running balls.
Since gerbils love to dig, you can give them a digging tower in addition to the bedding in the cage. A wooden tower to climb on and dive into, filled with some kind of substrate to dig in is a fun toy for gerbils.
How to Keep Gerbils Entertained
Gerbils need to be mentally and physically stimulated. They need to be able to move around a lot, explore new things, and be social with other gerbils.
The most important factor to keep gerbils entertained is company. A gerbil can never be kept alone and always needs at least one companion.
Variety of Food
A good way to entertain your gerbils is a variety of food. In addition to the gerbil pet food from the pet store, you should offer your gerbils vegetables, fruits, and insects such as mealworms. Gerbils love to explore new food and will try everything you offer them.
Don’t give them any seasoned, salty, sugary, or greasy foods. They can theoretically eat human food, but it’s not healthy for them.
Bedding to Dig In
Mongolian Gerbils live in the steppes and dig tunnels underground. That’s something they need to be able to do in a cage, too. Offer them deep bedding in the cage to build tunnels and nests underground.
Gerbils love to chew on stuff and explore new things. They also love running and jumping around. You should offer them a running wheel for exercise, wooden toys, cardboard boxes to trim down their teeth, and things like plateaus to climb on, hammocks, or other toys to keep them entertained.
Once your gerbils have bonded with you, you can let them run free in a closed area. You can either close all doors of a room and try to eliminate places in which the gerbils could hide and you can’t reach them anymore.
Or you can stake out a certain space as a playpen and equip it with different toys for your gerbils to play with.
Letting your gerbils play outside is a great opportunity to play with your pets and to make the bond between you and your gerbils even stronger.
Best Low Budget Toys for Gerbils
Gerbils are not very demanding when it comes to toys. As long as they can chew on it, climb on it, or hide within, they will play with the toy.
As a whole, there is no need to spend money on gerbil toys. As long as they can play with the object, they will love it, no matter how expensive it was. They love branches, twigs, cork, and bark, cardboard boxes, popsicles, as well as many other things that are free.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on gerbil toys, you can make a lot by yourself. Take a walk through your house or flat, your backyard, or a nearby forest, and you will find plenty of possible free or almost free toys for your gerbils.
Make sure that whatever you put in the cage is pesticide-free, chemical-free, non-poisonous (some plants are poisonous, too), and not moldy or dirty.
Things you can use indoors are for example egg boxes, shipping boxes, any cardboard boxes, popsicles, or wooden cutting boards that you don’t use anymore.
You can also use any old clothes, but keep in mind that whatever you put into that cage will be destroyed and be chewed on.
You can build houses, mazes, labyrinths, tunnels, hideouts, and bridges out of cardboard, and popsicles.
If you look outdoors, you can go for pinecones, bark, coconut shells (depending on where you live), twigs, and branches.
As you can see, there’s no need to spend a lot of money on toys. Gerbils don’t care about the cost of the toys, they will play with whatever you give them. And a self-made cardboard or wood labyrinth is definitively a great toy to entertain your gerbils with!
What Can I Give My Gerbil To Chew On?
Gerbils are rodents. They are known for chewing on basically anything. It is important for them to chew on hard materials such as wood in order to trim down their teeth. The teeth of gerbils grow all life long and if they don’t have enough things to chew on, the teeth will grow too long and will make it hard for the gerbils to eat.
As a whole, the best things for gerbils to chew on are wooden toys, wooden houses or bridges, cork structures, cardboards, toilet rolls, egg boxes,
Make sure that the branches, twigs, leaves, and bark that you collect outdoors are pesticide-free, free of mold, and free of any insects such as ants.
You can also acquire special chewing toys for gerbils in the pet store.
How Often Should You Play With Your Gerbil?
Gerbils are fun and playful animals that don’t need as much attention as many other pets. But it is still a good idea to interact with your pets regularly, in order to build a strong and trusting bond. As long as you have at least two gerbils together, you don’t have to play with your pets every day. Around one hour outside of the cage, two to three times per week is great for your gerbils. More than one hour at a time is not recommended because it is more than enough time to explore and play outside. After that play-time, your gerbils will be exhausted anyway.
The more time to spend with your gerbils, the quicker they will become used to you and tame.
There is no rule, on how much time you have to spend with your gerbils. But it’s more fun for you to have pets that you can interact with and play with.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂