There are countless small animal cages, but many aren’t suitable for gerbils. This can make it hard to find the right gerbil habitat.
The best gerbil cages should have 10 gallons of space per gerbil, and room for at least 6 inches of bedding. The gerbilarium should be made of glass or metal, as gerbils can chew through plastic.
We’ll look at the best cages for gerbils, and what size enclosure you need. We’ll then review the five best gerbil houses available, and talk you through setting up a gerbilarium correctly.
Best Type of Cage for Gerbils
When you look around your local pet store, you’ll find a wide variety of small animal habitats. Most of them are small metal cages, with plastic bottoms and accessories such as tubes and pipes.
This type of cage isn’t appropriate for gerbils. There are 4 main reasons:
- Size. Gerbils need room for toys and enrichment, and space to exercise. They also live in groups, and most cages are too small.
- Burrowing. Most cages have a shallow base, but gerbils need a deep layer of bedding for digging tunnels. According to Behavioural Processes, gerbils that can’t burrow experience mental health issues.
- Materials. Gerbils are voracious chewers, and they easily gnaw through plastic. Most cages have plastic parts or accessories that gerbils will destroy.
- Security issues. Gerbils are intelligent creatures. Most store-bought cages have flimsy doors with simple locks that gerbils can open.
Most owners keep their gerbils in large, deep glass tanks or aquariums. That way, they can’t chew their way out or kick their substrate out while digging. There’s also a lot of room for gerbils to build complex tunnels.
Gerbilariums are also commonly used. A gerbilarium is a multi-story home consisting of a large glass tank with a wire cage on top. The tank is filled with substrate, while the cage holds the food dish, wheel, and water bottle.
What Size Cage Do Gerbils Need?
Gerbils in small tanks, with no enrichment opportunities, often show signs of stress. According to Alternatives to Laboratory Animals, this can trigger stereotypic behavior such as compulsive digging and bar-chewing.
The bare minimum requirement is 10 U.S. gallons for one gerbil, plus 5 gallons for each additional gerbil. So, a pair of gerbils need a 15-gallon enclosure at the smallest.
However, you should always provide more than the minimum tank size if possible. According to the Russian Journal of General Biology, gerbils have high levels of individualization. This means that although gerbils are social animals, they need enough space to be alone occasionally.
A more generous rule is 10 gallons per gerbil. This means that you should look for a 20-gallon gerbilarium for two gerbils, or a 30-gallon for three.
Bigger isn’t always better, though. If a group of 3 or more gerbils has too much space, they are prone to declanning. This means they may split into two groups, and will fight if they breach each other’s territory.
Therefore, it’s best to stick to less than 15 gallons of space per gerbil. For example, an enclosure for 3 gerbils should be no bigger than 45 gallons.
What Are the Best Gerbil Houses?
When choosing a gerbil house, there are 4 main factors to consider:
- Floor space. Consider how many gerbils you have, and how much space they’ll need as outlined above.
- Depth. Most gerbils love to burrow, and need at least 6-8 inches of bedding at the bottom. You should choose a cage or tank that allows for this.
- Quality. You’ll need something sturdy that your gerbils can’t chew through or escape from.
- Accessories. What kind of extras does the tank/cage come with? Is it compatible with the accessories you already have?
1/ Savic Habitat Metro
The Savic Habitat Metro is a good basic gerbilarium with a volume of 18.57 gallons. It consists of a deep plastic tank, topped with a metal cage.
The habitat comes with several accessories. It includes a metal ladder and platforms, to allow your gerbils to navigate the two levels. You also get a plastic tunnel, a stainless steel food bowl, and a clip-on water bottle.
For a first-time gerbil owner, the Savic Metro would be a good purchase. It comes with everything you’ll need to get started, at a reasonable price.
- The gerbilarium meets the minimum size requirement for two gerbils
- The solid base is over 9 inches deep, perfect for digging complex tunnels
- The cage bars, platforms, and ladder are made of metal, so gerbils can’t chew through them
- As the base is plastic, the whole cage is lightweight and easy to move
- The cage is a reasonable price for first-time gerbil owners
- There are two doors: one on the top of the cage, one on the side
- The cage detaches from the base for ease of cleaning.
- The gerbilarium is too small for more than 2 gerbils. Even with a pair, there isn’t much room for them to move around
- The tunnel provided is made of plastic, and is unsuitable for most gerbils as they will chew it. You may need to remove it if you notice this
- The plastic tank isn’t as sturdy as glass. However, as the sides are smooth, your gerbils probably won’t be able to chew it
Some reviews have mentioned a quality control error which results in the cage door not staying shut properly. If this happens to you, you can return it for a refund, or tie the door shut. Overall, the Savic Habitat Metro is reasonably well-made, and the best gerbilarium for beginners on a budget.
2/ Kaytee My First Home Tank Topper
Kaytee is a reputable brand well known among small animal enthusiasts. As well as gerbil habitats, they also make bedding, food, and a whole range of cage accessories.
The Kaytee My First Home Tank Topper is a metal wire cage with a volume of 10 gallons. It’s a topper, so not designed to be used on its own. You can attach it to any 10-gallon tank to turn it into a 20-gallon gerbilarium.
This tank topper is an attractive bright white color. It comes with shelves, ramps, food dish, water bottle, and a hideout for your gerbils.
- You can turn a 10-gallon tank into a stylish gerbil habitat, instead of having to buy a gerbilarium
- It’s an affordable product from a trusted brand
- The cage is well-made, and sturdy
- The bars are coated with a chew-proof material
- The topper attaches via snap-together assembly. This means it’s quick and easy to put together, with no DIY involved
- There is only one door, on the top of the cage. Some gerbil owners prefer to access their gerbils from the side
- The accessories that come with the cage are all made of plastic. They are therefore unsuitable for gerbils that like to chew. You may need to replace them with metal ones
- It’s only suitable for 10-gallon tanks. If your tank is smaller or larger, this product won’t fit
- Some reviewers mention that this cage does not fit onto every type of tank. You may have to experiment to see which ones work best
On the whole, the Kaytee My First Home Tank Topper is reasonably priced, well-made, and practical.
3/ Niteangel Glass Pet Cage
The Niteangel Glass Pet Cage can only be described as a gerbil mansion. It’s a large glass tank with over 50 gallons of space inside. If you’re looking for the best large gerbil cage, this is the top contender.
It has a sturdy perforated aluminum lid that promotes air circulation within the tank. This lid can be removed for cleaning, or to get your gerbils out.
There are also two large front-opening double doors, for easy access to your gerbils. You don’t need to use these, if you want to give your gerbils a thicker layer of substrate. They’re fitted with a sturdy lock so your gerbils can’t escape.
- The Niteangel cage is huge, with a volume of over 50 gallons. It would be great for a larger clan of 4 or 5 gerbils
- The double doors and removable lid make it easy to clean, and to access your gerbils
- The glass sides and bottom are thick and good quality
- With a perforated lid, the tank is well-ventilated
- It looks stylish and modern, and would fit into the décor of any home
- It’s one of the most expensive gerbil cages on the market
- You have to assemble the cage yourself
- It’s heavy and hard to move (weighing around 60lbs)
- The sides are made completely of glass, so it’s more difficult to attach water bottles and wheels
- If you want to give your gerbils more than 6 inches of substrate, you can’t use the front-opening doors
- Because there is no metal cage on top, this tank only has one level
- It doesn’t come with any accessories, so you’ll have to buy these separately
If you have the funds, and don’t mind DIY, it’s worth investing in the Niteangel Glass Pet Cage. You can buy water bottles with suction cups to attach inside, and freestanding exercise wheels. Your gerbils will love having so much space to explore.
4/ Prevue Pet Products 528 Universal Small Animal Home
The Prevue Pet Products 528 Universal Small Animal Home is a wire mesh cage with a plastic tub base. It’s mainly marketed towards larger animals, but it’s also suitable for gerbils and hamsters.
The cage measures 46 gallons, and has a large amount of floor space. There are two entry doors, one on the side and one on the top. It comes with a plastic shelf and ramp, for splitting the cage into two levels.
The base is 6 ¼ inches, so deep enough to hold an acceptable level of substrate. The horizontal bars mean your gerbils can climb the cage if they choose to.
- With 46 gallons of room, there is plenty of space for 3 to 4 gerbils
- The wire mesh topper can be completely removed from the base for cleaning
- You can access your gerbils from the top or the side
- Considering the large size, the cage is reasonably priced
- The horizontal bars mean you can easily attach any bottle or wheel
- The cage is lightweight and easy to move
- There is some basic assembly required
- The platform, ramp, and base are made of plastic, so your gerbil may chew them
- The base is fairly shallow, at 6 ¼ inches deep. This is acceptable but not ideal, as most gerbils prefer 7 to 8 inches of substrate
- As your gerbils burrow, they may kick bedding through the bars onto the floor
- Some reviewers have mentioned that the top door isn’t as secure as they’d like. You may have to affix it with a wire tie or padlock
If your gerbils like a lot of floor space, the Prevue Pet Products 528 is perfect. It’s large, yet affordable for gerbil owners on a budget. The only real consideration is the depth of the base, which may be too shallow for some gerbils.
5/ Little Friends Savoy Gerbilarium with Accessories
The Little Friends Savoy Gerbilarium is a complete gerbil habitat. It has a large tank on the bottom for burrowing, and a spacious wire cage which attaches on top. The combined volume is 28 gallons.
Unlike the Savic Habitat, the base tank is made of glass, not plastic. This is a sturdier and more secure option for gerbils that like to chew.
The Little Friends gerbilarium comes with two shelves and two ramps, made of wood. It turns the home into a multi-floored habitat, to take better advantage of the space. It also comes with a wheel, bowl and wooden hide.
- There is plenty of room for a pair or trio of gerbils
- The design is simple yet modern, with a curved cage
- As the base is made of glass, your gerbils can’t chew it
- The accessories provided are made of wood. So your gerbil won’t come to any harm when chewing them (unlike plastic which could cause an obstruction)
- The cage topper can disconnect from the tank for cleaning
- There are two doors, one on the side and one on top
- Though the wooden accessories don’t pose a danger, they might not last long if chewed
- The depth of the glass base is only 6.69 inches. If you fill it to the brim with substrate, some may get kicked out through the bars
- The doors have a simple latch rather than a secure lock. Some reviewers mention that their gerbils can open them. You may need to further secure them with a wire tie or padlock
- The wheel that comes with the cage is only 6 inches in diameter. This is too small for an adult gerbil. The house also has a small opening that some gerbils may not fit through
The Little Friends Savoy Gerbilarium is reasonably priced and well made, other than the door locks. The only thing you’ll need to buy is a water bottle, as it doesn’t come with one.
Setting Up a Gerbil Cage
Once you’ve bought and built your gerbil’s enclosure, the next step is to set it up with accessories.
Depending on which cage you’ve bought, it may come with some of these. Otherwise, you’ll need to purchase them separately.
- Water bottle. Don’t use a dish, as they’re easy to tip over. Affix it to the inside of the gerbilarium, or the outside with the spout poking through.
- Exercise wheel. This should be 7-8 inches in diameter and ideally made of wood or metal.
- Food dish (optional). You can also scatter-feed your gerbils as it provides mental stimulation.
- Toys such as wooden chew toys, bridges, tunnels, balls and swings
- Sand bath. This is a ceramic or glass dish filled with sand, for your gerbils to bathe in.
- At least 6-8 inches of bedding. Use a mixture of materials so that your gerbils can build sturdy tunnels. Find out more in our in-depth guide to substrates for gerbils.
Place the accessories inside the cage topper, and use the lower tank for bedding. If you’re using a single-level tank, install a platform or shelf to hold the accessories. The accessories shouldn’t sit directly on top of the bedding, as they may tip over or fall through.
Don’t be surprised if your gerbils rearrange the furniture from time to time. Most gerbils prefer to decorate their cage themselves.