If you want to go on vacation, you might have to leave your gerbils at home. If there’s nobody to look after them, you may wonder how long you can safely leave gerbils alone.
With preparation, gerbils can be left alone for up to a week. Leave at least one tablespoon of food per gerbil per day. Attach two water bottles, in case one leaks or gets blocked. Set your thermostat between 65 and 75 degrees, so your gerbils are comfortably warm.
We’ll examine how long gerbils can stay home alone, and explain the risks involved. We’ll discuss how to prepare your gerbils for up to a week-long vacation, and look at the different care options.
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How Long Can Gerbils Stay Home Alone?
Ideally, gerbils should not be left alone while you’re on vacation. While you’re away, your gerbils could:
- Become injured. For example, they could fall off a shelf in the gerbilarium and hurt themselves.
- Get sick. Gerbils can develop illnesses such as diarrhea, eye infections, and respiratory problems.
- Run out of food. The food could go bad, or one gerbil could eat it all.
- Run out of water. The water bottle could leak, or the spout could become blocked. Gerbils can’t go more than a few days without water.
- Fight. Declanning could occur at any time, regardless of how well your gerbils usually get on. According to Hormones and Behavior, both male and female gerbils can fight, even if they’ve been neutered.
- Escape. Gerbils have been known to escape their enclosures. They could get into an accident, such as falling down the stairs.
- Overheat or get too cold. According to Comparative Biochemistry, gerbils are good at adjusting to different temperatures. However, they can’t tolerate extreme heat or cold for long.
If you give your gerbils enough food and water, they should be fine for 2-3 days. But anything could happen while you’re out of the home. You shouldn’t leave your gerbils alone for longer than a weekend.
Can Gerbils Be Left Alone for a Week?
If it’s unavoidable, you can leave your gerbils alone for up to a week. However, there are certain precautions you should take before you leave:
- Clean the gerbilarium. This will reduce the risk of your gerbils becoming sick from a build-up of bacteria.
- Set the thermostat between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This will prevent your gerbils from overheating or becoming too cold.
- Leave plenty of food in the food dish. Allow at least one tablespoon of food per gerbil per day. According to The American Midland Naturist, gerbils are good at self-regulating their diet. But you should still give them more than they need, just in case.
- Remove some of the bedding. If your gerbils have too much bedding, they may push it up against the water bottle’s spout. This could cause the bottle to leak.
- Attach two large, sturdy water bottles. Gerbils only drink a teaspoon of water per day. But give them two bottles, so that if one leaks or becomes blocked, they have a back-up.
- Set up a camera to watch your gerbil’s cage while you’re away. Some cameras allow you to watch a live feed on your phone. That way, you’ll know if something goes wrong.
- Secure the gerbilarium. The lid should be sealed shut, so your gerbils can’t escape.
Leaving gerbils for a week should only be done in emergency situations. Find someone to check in on them while you’re away.
What to Do With Gerbils While on Vacation
Nobody wants to come home from vacation to find their gerbils have escaped, injured themselves, or died.
If you’re going away for longer than a few days, finding gerbil care on vacation is essential. There are many options available.
Ask a Friend to Help
The simplest solution to gerbil care on vacation is to ask a friend or family member to assist.
Gerbils aren’t high-maintenance, so you should be able to find someone willing to look in on them. They don’t need previous experience with gerbils. All you need to do is explain how to top up their food and water.
If anyone that you live with isn’t vacationing with you, ask them. If not, you could ask your friends, colleagues, siblings, cousins, or neighbors. You’ll need to give them a set of keys to your home, so ask someone you trust.
Alternatively, you could bring your gerbils to their home to be looked after there. Ensure you provide them with enough food and bedding to sustain your gerbils while you’re away.
Find a Gerbil Sitter
If none of your friends or family can look after your gerbils, try finding an experienced gerbil sitter.
There are many websites dedicated to helping people find vacation care for their pets. On these websites, you can search through a list of potential pet sitters near you. You can read reviews and testimonials from customers.
Some pet sitters will come to your home and look after your gerbils. This is a good option if you’d rather not put your pets through the stress of moving.
The petsitter could stay at your home. Alternatively, they could visit your home each day to check on your gerbils.
They’ll top up their food and water, and spot-clean if necessary. If you’ll be away for a long time, you can instruct them to clean the cage fully. You’ll have to provide the food and bedding.
Some pet sitters will offer to look after your gerbils at their house instead. This way, you don’t need to worry about a stranger being in your home.
Gerbil Boarding Service
More animal boarding services are starting to accept small and exotic animals. There are many benefits to using small animal boarding houses:
- They are licensed and insured, so your gerbils are safe
- You don’t have to worry about a stranger coming into your home
- Your gerbils will be cared for 24/7 by experienced animal keepers
Most animal boarding houses will send you regular updates and pictures of your gerbils while you’re away. That way, your mind can rest knowing your gerbils are ok.
Small animal boarding is usually more expensive than using a gerbil sitter, but many people prefer it.
If you can’t find a small animal kennel near you, enquire with local veterinarians. Some veterinary clinics offer boarding services for a fee. Your gerbil will be in expert hands.
Bring Your Gerbil on Vacation
Most gerbils travel well, without getting too anxious. As long as they have everything they need, they’ll be fine. Ensure you pack enough food, bedding, and bottled water for the entire length of your trip.
You can buy a small tank or travel cage and bring your gerbils along with you in the car. Cover the cage with a blanket so that your gerbils aren’t overwhelmed while traveling.
If you’re traveling via train, plane or bus, contact the company to inquire about their small animal policy. Also, check that your gerbils will be welcome wherever you’re staying.
Some hotels allow pets, and some don’t. And some countries and states (such as California) won’t allow you to bring gerbils through customs. Always find out this information before traveling.