Does Your Gerbil Smell? Here’s What You Have to Do!

When it comes to taking care of pet gerbils, you’re probably wondering whether they smell and what approach would it best be to keep them clean. I mean, they spend all their days inside a cage where they urinate and defecate next to where they eat right?

The question new gerbil owners might want to know is, do gerbils smell?

The answer is generally no. Because gerbils are normally don’t consume a lot of water at all, they often produce extremely little urine. This is also the reason why their feces small and hard and almost odorless. Due to their limited need for water, they don’t often smell bad.

Why do gerbils not smell?

These furry creatures are also known as “desert rats” and originally found in the sandy and hot plains of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. These areas didn’t have much water, so gerbils had to evolve and learn how to survive with less water.

Ultimately, gerbils ended up biologically using up and keeping in fluids more often than other rodents or typical animals, eliminating the need to often require water. This gave gerbils a strong chance of survival in such a dangerously resource-scarce area.

This also means that as their bodies automatically kept in water, they also urinated less. Since gerbils don’t urinate often, you are not likely to smell any major foul odor coming from your gerbil.

Gerbils do not use their urine to mark territories

Another interesting fact is that gerbils are territorial creatures. However, they don’t mark their territories using the traditional ways, that is urine. Instead, they have these scent glands that are located midline on their bellies. Rubbing their bellies on objects marks their place.

This results in a peculiar orange oil.

Gerbils can use urine as the mechanism for marking territory but they often don’t, this may have a lot to do with the fact that they don’t urinate very much at a time.

Gerbils can also use their feces as a tool for marking territories but fortunately, this is not as common and if it were, their feces are so small and so dry that there would be very little odor involved.

Why does MY gerbil smell?

It’s important to know that even though the sources say that gerbils don’t often leave smells, they aren’t immune to bad odor. All animals can smell bad and all animals can give off bad odors in the right situations.

It can be due to the animal being sick or it can be due to the animal playing in someone it shouldn’t be in. It could even be due to age and the many issues that come with it.

We can all take the consensus that gerbils don’t smell as bad as other rodents, and that’s because other rodents often live in their own excrete.

While this isn’t normally the case for gerbils, it can happen. Urine contains ammonia and water and this can cause it to have a strong smell. The urine odor also comes from the amount and concentration of various waste products that are produced by the kidneys. Even if gerbils urinate very little, this smell can build up over time inside their cage. Dehydration can concentrate the ammonia and make the smell even worst.

It may be best practice to clean your gerbil’s cage or use cage bedding to help remove bad odor.

How often should you clean a gerbil’s cage?

It’s recommended to clean a gerbil’s cage at least every 2 to 4 weeks at a time. Doing so can help keep the cage smell down and also help keep your gerbil healthier.

Replacement bedding can be used to help absorb ammonia smells. Similar to how blood can get stuck in your carpet after a person has had a nosebleed, bedding can become soaked with urine or poop and this can cause it to stink. It’s important that you clean and replaces it regularly so that this doesn’t happen.

How to clean a gerbil’s cage

Here are some best practices that will help you keep your gerbil’s cage clean and fresh.

  1. Remove your gerbil.
  2. Take out all the bedding from the cage.
  3. Wash it with water and soap to remove the smell.
  4. Clean the base of the cage as well as the wire fence.
  5. Clean the toys, food and water bowls, wheel, etc.
  6. Wipe it all down with a dry cloth or let it dry for several hours.
  7. Use fresh granules or sawdust on one corner of the cage for the toilet area.
  8. Place the food and water on the opposite end.

Tips to reduce odor coming from a pet gerbil

Here are ways to reduce the odor coming from your pet gerbil:

  1. Use a cage with a solid floor. Wire floors can create urine puddles that can form an ammonia smell.
  2. Wash your pet gerbils droppings down the toilet right away to prevent them from smelling up the cage. It’s best not to wait. Just do it as soon as you can.
  3. Gerbil owners should take frequent trips to the pet store to buy new bedding as old ones can get a strong odor.
  4. Water is important to gerbil’s health and well-being. Keep them hydrated! It’ll also help reduce urine odor.
  5. Make sure your gerbil gets plenty of fresh air by letting it out of its cage while you clean.
  6. Change water and food every day to keep the smells down.
  7. Change bedding every week or two to avoid smells.
  8. Keep the room where the cage is left well ventilated with cool and dry room temperature.
  9. Clean litter boxes often, as they smell bad when left too long in between cleanings.
  10. Give your gerbil healthy food and stick to a single healthy diet because changes to a pet’s diet can cause issues that result in illness and bad odor.

What products can help reduce Gerbil’s smell?

It’s a rule of thumb not to try to simply mask the odor. This means it’s not recommended to simply spray some pet odor-killing agent all over the cage.

That would be a disservice to your pet and it could also simply hurt your gerbil in the long run.

Pet shave bedding (close up)
Pet shave bedding (close up)

With that being said there are several products created by several companies specifically for small pets and cages. Generally speaking, these products will help absorb the urine and even provide a means of breaking down the ammonia smell so that their cages will stay cleaner for longer periods of time

If you’re curious about what we found as quality and safe products for your gerbil’s clean bedding needs, we’ve left some recommendations here.

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Author: John