Do Pet Gerbils Chew Through Plastic Cages? [Safe Choice?]


Gerbils are adorable, active little creatures that make wonderful pets. However, their natural instincts can sometimes lead to unexpected challenges, especially regarding their housing.

A common concern among gerbil owners is whether these small rodents can chew through plastic cages.

This blog post delves into this important topic, exploring the behavioral tendencies of gerbils, the risks associated with different cage materials, and the best practices for ensuring a safe and healthy environment for your furry friend.

Understanding the potential for gerbils to chew through plastic is crucial for pet owners who want to ensure the safety and well-being of their pets.

Not only does this affect the durability of the cage, but it also has implications for the gerbil’s health.

Throughout this post, we’ll provide in-depth insights and advice on choosing the right cage for your gerbil and alternatives to plastic cages that may offer greater safety and comfort.

Fun Fact: Gerbils are known for their strong, sharp teeth, which they use not just for eating but also for gnawing on various materials. This natural behavior is crucial for keeping their teeth in good condition. For more insights into gerbil behavior, especially related to biting, check out gerbil bites: first aid, prevention, care.

Yes, gerbils can chew through plastic cages. These small rodents have strong, continuously growing teeth that enable them to gnaw through various materials, including certain types of plastic.

This behavior is an instinct for gerbils, used both for exploration and to keep their teeth from overgrowing.

Therefore, when selecting a cage for a gerbil, it’s important to consider durable and safe materials, minimizing the risk of the gerbil chewing its way out or ingesting harmful plastic.

For pet owners, this highlights the importance of choosing the right cage material. While plastic cages might be convenient and affordable, they may not be the best option for your gerbil’s health and security.

Alternatives like glass or metal cages can be more suitable, as they are harder for gerbils to chew through.

The Nature of Gerbils

Gerbils are curious and active rodents, known for their playful nature and strong instinct to explore their environment.

This exploratory behavior often involves gnawing and chewing on various objects, which is not just a pastime but a necessary activity for their physical health.

Gerbils have incisors that grow continuously throughout their lives, and gnawing helps keep these teeth at a manageable length.

The Need to Gnaw: A Gerbil’s Instinct

The act of gnawing is more than just a habit for gerbils; it’s an essential part of their wellbeing. If they don’t gnaw regularly, their teeth can grow too long, leading to health issues like difficulty eating or oral injuries.

Therefore, providing materials for your gerbil to chew on is vital.

However, this natural instinct can pose challenges when gerbils are kept in captivity, especially in plastic cages. The tendency to chew on the cage can lead to the gerbil damaging the cage, potentially ingesting harmful materials, or even escaping.

This behavior underscores the importance of selecting the right cage material and ensuring your gerbil has appropriate items to satisfy its gnawing instinct.

Hazards of Ingesting Plastic

One of the primary concerns with plastic cages is the risk of gerbils ingesting plastic pieces. When gerbils chew on plastic, they can swallow small fragments, leading to gastrointestinal blockages or internal injuries.

These health issues can be severe and may require veterinary intervention. Therefore, it’s crucial to monitor your gerbil’s environment and ensure that it is safe from such hazards.

Potential for Escape

Another significant risk of using plastic cages is the potential for gerbils to chew through and escape. Gerbils are adept at gnawing through softer materials, and a plastic cage might not be secure enough to contain them.

An escaped gerbil can face numerous dangers, such as getting lost, encountering predators, or finding itself in unsafe areas of the home.

Therefore, when choosing a cage for your gerbil, it’s essential to consider more durable and secure materials. In the following section, we’ll explore alternatives to plastic cells, assessing the pros and cons of different materials like glass, metal, and wood.

Glass Aquariums: A Safer Choice?

Glass aquariums are a popular alternative to plastic cages for gerbils. They offer several advantages:

  • Durability: Glass is much harder for gerbils to chew through, significantly reducing the risk of escaping or ingesting harmful materials.
  • Visibility: Glass provides clear visibility, allowing you to observe your gerbil’s behavior and ensure its wellbeing.
  • Ease of Cleaning: Glass surfaces are easy to clean and disinfect, contributing to a healthier environment for your pet.

However, there are also some considerations to consider with glass aquariums. They require adequate ventilation to ensure a healthy living space for your gerbil, and they can be heavier and more challenging to move.

Metal and Wooden Cages: Pros and Cons

Metal Cages
Metal cages, often made of wire, are another viable option for gerbil enclosures. They are chew-resistant and provide good ventilation. However, it’s important to ensure that the spacing between the wires is narrow enough to prevent escape and that the cage has a solid floor to protect the gerbil’s feet.

Wooden Cages
Wooden cages can be a natural and aesthetically pleasing choice. While they offer a more natural environment, the potential for gerbils to chew on wood should be considered. If opting for a wooden cage, it’s crucial to use non-toxic, untreated wood and to check for signs of excessive gnawing regularly.

Size and Space Requirements

Gerbils are active and social creatures, so providing them with enough space to move, play, and explore is essential. A suitable cage should offer ample room for exercise and enrichment activities.

The recommended minimum size for a gerbil cage is around 10-20 gallons (38-76 liters) for one or two gerbils, but larger is always better. Remember to provide multiple levels or platforms to maximize the usable space.

Essential Features for Gerbil Welfare

When selecting a cage, consider these key features for optimal gerbil welfare:

  • Ventilation: Good air circulation is crucial for your gerbil’s health. Ensure the cage has adequate ventilation to prevent dampness and odor buildup.
  • Security: The cage must be secure to prevent escapes. Check for sturdy construction and a reliable locking mechanism.
  • Ease of Cleaning: Regular cleaning is vital for maintaining a healthy environment. Choose a cage that is easy to access and clean.
  • Enrichment Opportunities: Provide a variety of toys and chewable items to satisfy your gerbil’s gnawing instinct and keep them entertained. This can include wooden blocks, cardboard tubes, and other safe materials.

In addition to the cage itself, consider the location in your home. Place the cage in a quiet, safe area away from direct sunlight and drafts.

Q1: How can I tell if my gerbil is chewing on its cage?

Look for signs of wear and tear on the cage, especially around the corners and edges. You might also hear gnawing sounds, particularly when gerbils are most active at night. Regularly inspect the cage for any chewed areas or holes.

Q2: What materials are safe for gerbil cages?

Safe materials for gerbil cages include glass, metal, and untreated wood. Avoid plastic or painted wood, as these can be harmful if ingested. Ensure any metal used is non-toxic and rust-free.

Q3: How often should I inspect the cage for signs of chewing?

Inspect the cage weekly for any signs of damage or wear. This routine check helps ensure the cage remains secure and safe for your gerbil.

Choosing the right cage for your gerbil is crucial for its health, safety, and happiness. As we’ve explored, gerbils are instinctive to chew, which can lead to potential risks when housed in plastic cages.

Understanding this behavior is key to providing your pet a safe and enriching environment.

Remember, the ideal cage for a gerbil should be durable, secure, and provide ample space for exercise and exploration.

While plastic cages might be prone to chewing, alternatives like glass aquariums, metal cages, or untreated wooden cages offer safer and more suitable environments.

It’s also essential to regularly inspect the cage for signs of wear or damage and to provide appropriate chew toys and enrichment activities.

By considering these factors and making informed choices about your gerbil’s housing, you can ensure a fulfilling and healthy life for your furry companion.

Whether you’re a seasoned gerbil owner or new to the world of these fascinating creatures, keeping their natural behaviors and needs in mind will help you create the perfect home for them.

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