A couple of months ago, we had a couple of new little "ladies" join our family! Please meet Lily (on the left) and Gabriella! You can see that they look very similar, though when we got them they looked very different. Gwen had requested a light-colored gerbil, and Charlotte wanted a brown one. I called our local family-owned pet store, Pet Mania, and they were able to place an order and request the colors that the girls wanted.
While we were waiting for our gerbils to be picked up, I did my research about what kind of home to get for them. I found lots of great info at The Gerbil Forum, along with many photos of cages, etc. I finally decided to go with the simplest set-up- a 20 gallon long tank, which was not very expensive. I also decided to stick with aspen bedding (vs carefresh). There are some very elaborate set-ups out there, but we decided that simple was better, and that a 20 gallon tank would be just fine for two gerbils!
The girls were SO excited when we first went to pick up the gerbils. I only had my camera phone, but here is a picture of them in the store... Lily is on the left, and she was her very light color at this point.
They are really quite easy to care for and to handle. We feed them Oxbow Essentials Hamster and Gerbil food, in part because it is peanut-free (Charlotte is allergic) and it is high-quality food, from what I'm told. We get a 10% discount for any food or accessories at Pet Mania since we purchased the gerbils there, and they are the only place that I know sells it (I did not see it at Petsmart or Petco), so that works out well. I give them a small handful of food every day- I don't bother with a bowl because they kept burying their food anyway! And we just keep a close eye on their water. Very rarely we give them a fresh food treat- you can see Charlotte's gerbil Gabriella here, with an apple slice.
We have a wheel in their cage, but for whatever reason only Gabriella enjoys running in it. She does poop/pee in it, so we have to clean it often. In the picture below, you can also see a "food stash" in the left corner.
We change their bedding every 1-2 weeks, whenever it starts to smell very "gerbilly". (I don't mind the gerbil smell, but they do pee & poop and I don't like to think of that getting too bad!) We've played with different amounts of bedding, making it quite deep at times, but a medium level of bedding seems to work best. We do purchase tubes for them from time to time, because they eat toilet paper tubes so very quickly. We also have a piece of cardboard that they like to burrow under (and chew on.)
A quick interview with 6 year old Gwen. :)
Question: What is your favorite thing about having a gerbil?
"When I get her out it's like having a giant bug crawl on your arm."
Question: What do you have to do to take care of Lily?
"I have to feed her, give her water, and be very gentle."
Question: Does anything bad every happen when you have Lily out of the cage?
"Sometimes she runs away." (Yes--- this is a point of caution, they will try to scamper away, so be vigilant!)
Here is a video of Gwen talking about taking care of a gerbil, but it's sideways and I don't know how to fix it. Still cute, though! :)