If you’re looking for bedding that doubles as a litter that also protects the environment, then this Fresh World bedding is for you.
What’s unique with this bedding is that it’s made out of phenol-free recycled newspapers that not only help in reducing pollution but are perfectly safe as well for small animals such as gerbils.
The bedding has an excellent absorbing ability and can absorb moisture up to 3 times its own weight.
Moreover, it uses a baking soda formula that helps it control odor release for 7-days, so you won’t have to change bedding regularly due to its smell.
You also won’t be having to worry about causing respiratory problems as the bedding is virtually dust-free.
Things I really like:
Helps save the earth as it’s made from recycled newspaper
Baking soda formula helps it absorb up to 3 times its own weight
Odor control for up to 7 days makes your cage smell fresh
Non-allergenic as it is dust-free
Things I don’t like:
More expensive than other beddings
Factors to consider for each bedding
Before you even go out to purchase bedding for your gerbil, it is essential to be familiar with the different factors regarding each bedding.
Because there are hundreds of brands and different materials of which bedding are made up of, knowing the properties of each one will benefit you a lot.
Not only will it save you money and time in testing and trying out each bedding, but also the effort in completely flushing out each bedding when you find out that your gerbil has problems with it.
There are many different materials of which bedding for gerbils is made up of, most of them being wood shavings. However, each material has different properties to it and having knowledge can save you from a lot of trouble.
Here are some factors you need to consider when purchasing bedding:
Cost is obviously a major factor in determining what bedding to use. More popular brands may be more expensive and some companies might advertise their beddings in a way to give off a premium look.
It’s not necessary to purchase these expensive brands as these are just marketing tactics and researching a bit may help you come across cheaper but better bedding.
Smaller packs also tend to be more expensive than larger ones if you compare the weight to price. So buying larger packs will not only save you the effort of buying them again and again but will also help you make some savings.
Note: Buying smaller packs isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you’re testing different beddings. The leftover may go to waste if your gerbil seems uncomfortable with one.
In the wild, gerbils live in complex colonies of tunnels and as well as reproduce in them. Basically, tunnels are gerbils home.
The problem is, not all kinds of beddings, especially wood shavings, are capable of holding their shape and the tunnels will most probably fall.
To provide some strength to the tunnels, a mixture of more than one type of bedding is required. Relatively moist bedding tends to provide this tunneling strength.
Beddings like Carefresh and shredded paper are excellent materials that provide strength to the tunnels your gerbils will be making. These beddings are moist and relatively safer than the others.
Bedding naturally begins to smell after some time as it absorbs urine and water time after time, however, there are solutions to this problem.
One option is to buy more absorbent bedding. This bedding will absorb much more liquid than other beddings and as a result, will last longer before the smell appears.
The other option is to buy scented bedding which will counter the odor the waste releases. Make sure that the bedding is scented using natural material such as lavender otherwise it may trigger an allergic reaction.
Quantity and Replacement
Not all beddings have the same density. For example, a kg of wood shavings would cover much more area in the cage than a kg of sawdust would.
Thus, it is necessary to plan your budget accordingly. Find the alternatives of different beddings so you can purchase one which is cheaper and covers the same space as the other.
Similarly, some beddings will tend to rot in lesser time and so would need frequent replacement. Thus, make sure that you know the amount of time certain bedding will last before it needs replacement.
How much bedding should you use?
Gerbils survive in the wild through building complex burrows that give them shelter against predators and act as their homes.
Not only do they live in these burrows, but also tend to breed and give birth in these same burrows. So it is crucial to provide them with a similar environment in captivity as well.
Now let’s get straight to the answer:
The right amount of bedding is somewhere between 3 to 4 inches deep or 1/3 of the tank.
This amount of bedding allows them to burrow deep enough that they feel protected and can breed as well.
As there are different types of beddings, you can mix some up and layer them.
For example, using harder bedding like pellets for the bottom while using fiber or wood shavings for the top will provide your gerbils with both stability for their burrows as well as comfort.
Beddings you SHOULD use for your gerbils
Like everything else, there are certain kinds of beddings that we recommend you to use due to their properties that help your gerbils live a healthy life.
Good bedding is one that absorbs liquid well, reduces the spread of odor and does not causes allergies within your gerbils.
There definitely are other things that you must look out for like comfort, but these are just the basic requirements.
Here are some of our favorites:
Wood shavings are cheap, absorb liquids efficiently and serve as excellent bedding for gerbils.
There are different types of wood shavings available, however, we only recommend you to go for Aspen shavings as these tend to be the safest.
The reason is that Aspen doesn’t contain any oils or scents that might otherwise make your hamster sick in multiple ways.
Look for reputable brands selling Aspen wood shavings that are not treated with any chemical. These bedding should still have been processed to remove any dust that might cause an allergy.
Wood shavings do not typically hold their shape very well, so you’re better off with mixing them up with cardboard or clean paper. Gerbils chew both of these up and use them together to build stronger burrows.
Plain Shredded Paper or Paper Towels
Shredded paper is a great material to be used as a bedding for gerbils. However, it is necessary to make sure that you don’t simply shred your old documents and place them in their cage.
Unused paper can absorb water and help provide stability to the tunnels your gerbils make. There are several brands that make beddings out of raw, unused paper for small pets.
Another option is to use plain tissues or paper towels that are free from any chemicals or scents to avoid any allergies. Gerbils use these to line their burrows as well to give them strength.
Corn Cob is an excellent choice for bedding due to their moisture absorbing quality.
These dried bits of corn cob are a perfect choice as a base layer for a gerbil cage as they can absorb large quantities of urine and reduce the spread of odor.
However, there is one issue:
Corn cob particles tend to be quite hard and aren’t the best material for building burrows.
To counter this problem, spread it over the base only and cover the upper layer with softer bedding or you can combine them with another softer bedding to provide comfort to your gerbils.
Gerbils are desert animals and thus do everything, from building burrows to cleaning themselves, in the same sand.
But there’s a catch to it:
Sand alone is not a very good choice of bedding for your gerbils due to a number of reasons.
First, without a certain level of moisture in it, a burrow made in the sand will most likely collapse. Other than that, not every type of sand is suitable for gerbils as very fine particles can be inhaled and can cause respiratory problems.
However, we do recommend you to place a small cup or bowl of chinchilla sand in the corner of your cage. Your gerbils will automatically use this sand to clean themselves.
Beddings you SHOULD NOT use for your gerbils
There are certain beddings that you should steer clear off in order to keep your gerbils healthy and safe.
Because gerbils are small and sensitive creatures, they tend to get affected by even a small amount of anything that doesn’t suit them.
Here are some examples:
Cedar and Pine Wood Shavings
Both of these woods produce a natural chemical called phenol that gives them a strong smell.
Gerbils tend to nibble on these wood shavings and as they break into smaller pieces, they can be breathed in which causes many allergies and respiratory problems.
Therefore, it’s best to avoid wood shavings of cedar and pine wood completely.
Newspaper or Printed Paper
Plain and clean paper is great for bedding, but the ink can cause many problems.
Your gerbils will very likely chew and break this paper into smaller pieces, so if they digest any of the ink in the process, it can cause harm to their health.
Fibers or Cotton Beddings
Although there are some beddings like Carefresh which are made of synthetic fiber, not any kind of fiber bedding should be used.
This is because your gerbils are very likely to chew these fibers into smaller pieces and digesting any of it can harm them.
Raw Wood Shavings or Sawdust
It is important to understand that not all types of wood shavings are suitable for use as beddings.
If you find someone offering wood shavings right out of the factory, at a cheap price in bulk quantities, you’re better off staying away from such deals.
This is because these wood shavings can have sharp edges as well as splinters which can cause a ton of problems for your gerbils, not to mention the discomfort they will suffer.
Also, this wood might have a lot of dust, which is yet another hazard to your gerbils’ health. Sawdust can also be found for cheap prices in bulk, but then again, can be inhaled and will cause allergies and respiratory issues.
Peat might seem like a good idea considering it’s more natural, but it has more drawbacks than advantages.
One reason is that peat is a heavy material and making burrows with peat might be a difficult task for your gerbils. And if their burrows collapse, they will have difficulty digging their way out.
More so, as the peat absorbs more and more moisture, it will become cold and might make your gerbils sick. Wet peat will also start to rot so you’re going to have to replace it quite frequently.
Choosing a cage for your gerbils
Deciding which cage to buy for your gerbil shouldn’t be made into such a difficult choice.
With that in mind, here’s a small guide which you can read to make this decision easier for you.
There are actually two basic things you can use to set up your gerbils home; an Aquarium or a Gerbilarium.
There’s a reason why aquariums are popular as a cage for gerbils.
For starters, it’s cheap and easy to find. You can visit your local pet shop and find a variety of glass aquariums in different sizes to suit your needs.
Secondly, aquariums are deep and different layers of beddings can easily be laid while still keeping space for your gerbils to roam around.
Aquariums also look really nice once you decorate them and can be a great addition to your room or hall.
However, you have to be careful and use a mesh roof to avoid suffocating your gerbils. You’ll also have to ensure that the roof is solid enough to protect them in case a cat or dog tries to attack.
A gerbilarium is a cage with two separate levels, one for sleeping and burrowing and the other for playing.
The upper level usually has a couple of exercise wheels, and you can add some toys.
The lower level, which is made of plastic or glass is used to lay the bedding and allow the gerbils to make their burrows.
Gerbilarium can be a little more expensive than aquariums.
Some have a wired second level in which gerbils might get their feet stuck, so keep an eye out for anything that might harm them.
How to know if my gerbil is having an allergy? The most common sign of an allergy or a respiratory problem is a runny nose.
Some chemicals in the bedding can irritate your gerbil’s nose and a runny nose is usually the most visible sign of a problem with the bedding.
Your gerbil’s nose will usually become red. Gerbil mucus is slightly reddish so don’t mistake it for blood. Change the bedding right away and take them to a vet so they can be treated.
How often should you clean your cage? Gerbil cage should be cleaned at least once a week, however, the bedding can last 3-4 weeks before needing a replacement.
Gerbils tend to be very clean animals and their urine doesn’t release too much odor. So, you don’t have to worry about smell too much.
They also excrete only a small amount of waste so you can also clean a particular spot or replace the bedding there in order to maintain hygiene.
One thing you want to keep in mind is to clean the cage less frequently when a gerbil has just given birth. This can disturb your gerbils or even cause their burrows to collapse.
What do gerbils play with? Gerbils love to chew on things. You can provide them with small pieces of wood or cardboard pieces to gnaw on and they will be very happy with it.
You can also place an exercise wheel in their cage to give them something to play with and get physical activity at the same time.