Finding out that your gerbil has gone missing is a really stressful experience. Not only are gerbils small and fast, but a standard house or apartment has loads of hiding places that gerbils can crawl into, making them difficult to find and capture.
Gerbils hide anywhere that’s warm, dark, and safe. This includes inside walls, behind and under furniture, and in clothes that they can burrow into. When searching for your pet gerbil, look for droppings, bite marks, hoarded food, holes in the floor, and nesting materials.
These are all clues to your gerbil’s whereabouts. While it’s easy to panic when your gerbil gets loose, try to keep a clear and level head. This will allow you to get your pet back far more quickly.
Where Do Gerbils Like To Hide?
Unfortunately, an escaped gerbil is one of the disadvantages of owning a pet. And despite how careful you are, a determined gerbil will always find a way to break free as soon as you let your guard down. That’s because it’s in their nature to forage and explore.
Gerbils most commonly escape while you’re handling them. They will either hop out of your hands and run away or give your fingers a little nip, causing you to drop them.
Sometimes, gerbils break out of flimsy plastic cages by gnawing their way through. Similarly, if the enclosure has bars, the gerbil may squeeze through the gaps, even if you think there’s little space between them.
When gerbils are in their enclosure, they like to burrow into their bedding where they feel safe and secure. Therefore, your gerbil is unlikely to remain in an open space for too long. Instead, it will find somewhere where it feels safe from harm. The most common gerbil hiding spots in a house include:
Because gerbils prefer enclosed spaces, they’ll get behind furniture that isn’t flush to the wall. Similarly, if there’s a big enough gap, the gerbil will get underneath the furniture, where it’ll hide before finding a better spot.
Gerbils can also climb and jump high, so they’ll get into furniture through open drawers and doors. If you have furniture with clothes or other soft items inside, gerbils will burrow into them. Unfortunately, they may also rip and tear these items for their nest.
Gerbils are likely to head towards food, so the kitchen makes an excellent place for them to hide. Specifically, kitchen cupboards offer protection and easy access to food and water.
Gerbils are grazers and enjoy eating regularly throughout the day. Similarly, gerbils can eat certain human foods, including:
- Bread, especially the seeded kind
- Fruit and vegetables
While they may only find crumbs to sustain them for a short while, the kitchen is where hungry and thirsty gerbils are most likely to hang out.
However, getting gerbils out of your kitchen cupboards isn’t easy. Similarly, kitchens pose many threats, such as hot food and electrical appliances. Gerbils are also prone to gnawing at wires, which is a fire hazard and may harm your gerbil.
As a result, you’ll need to find a way to get your gerbil out of your kitchen cupboards as quickly as you can.
Within A Wall
You’ll rarely find your gerbil in the middle of a room or floor. That’s because they’re too exposed to danger. Instead, they will gravitate towards vertical walls where they’re safer and can’t be attacked by predators.
Gerbils tend to use enclosed spaces as a base. If they can get behind a wall through a hole or small gap, they will hide within walls. Similarly, they will dig into the carpet to get behind a wall.
Under the cover of darkness, gerbils may come out from their hiding space to find food and water. Until then, they’ll remain hidden behind the wall.
Gerbils burrow for safety, warmth, and comfort. That’s why they need so much bedding in their enclosure.
According to Microbial Biology, gerbils dig so much in the wild that they change the soil’s microbiome. Therefore, it’s wise to assume that your gerbil will find a hiding spot it can dig into for safety and protection, particularly if it’s been gone for a little while.
Clothes piles make a good place for gerbils to burrow into, allowing them to create a warm, cozy nest where they can hide and sleep.
If you’ve left clothes on the floor, this is the most likely place your gerbil will go. Though, they’ll also get into a laundry basket or clothes drawer if there’s a big enough entry point.
When dealing with your clothes pile, carefully lift each garment and check for signs of your gerbil, being careful not to spook or scare it away.
How To Find An Escaped Gerbil
A small gerbil inside a large house could be anywhere. It almost feels overwhelming to know where to start looking.
However, try not to lose hope, as gerbils leave behind plenty of clues that can give away their hiding spot. You just need to know what to look for.
When searching for your escaped gerbil, follow these steps to get it back safe and sound:
Look For Hoarded Food
Gerbils naturally hoard food. As described by Behavioral and Neural Biology, researchers found that food-deprived Mongolian gerbils hoarded substantially more food when there was no sustenance available.
As a result, gerbils that are hungry after being on the run for a while will attempt to build a large hoard of food, saving it for when they really need it.
When looking for your escaped pet gerbil, look in the corners of every room for stashed food. Also, look under furniture for food that wasn’t there before your gerbil got away.
Search For Gerbil Droppings
One of the most significant clues to an escaped gerbil’s whereabouts is the presence of droppings in the vicinity of its hiding spot. This gives away the gerbil’s location and allows you to track its movements.
Gerbils will defecate close to where they’re living. Gerbil droppings look like small, round, firm pellets. However, they don’t smell. This is good news for keeping the house clean, but it makes it slightly harder to detect the presence of feces.
Check Plastic Pipes And Wood
Gerbils have continuously growing teeth. As a result, they must file down to prevent them from growing too long. They can do this by chewing on wood and fibrous food.
Escaped gerbils will chew on plastic pipes and wooden trims to shorten their teeth. When looking for your gerbil, inspect wooden furniture and other items within each room that gerbils may use as a tooth file.
If you spot teeth marks or shavings on the floor, your gerbil is likely to be close by. Check small cracks and gaps around these items and look for the other signs we’ve mentioned to locate your gerbil.
Inspect Floors For Holes
As we’ve already mentioned, gerbils burrow. They may also dig into the ground to find a safe hiding spot. As a result, you’re likely to see holes in the floor or carpet where the gerbil has attempted to get through.
Search For Nesting Materials
To make a warm, cozy nest, gerbils will grab any material they can find, including shredded paper, wood, or clothes. They’ll arrange these materials into a nest that they’ll go back to after foraging for food and water.
Gerbils are diurnal, meaning they’re more likely to come out in the day and sleep at night. If you spot nesting materials but no gerbil, come back with a torch when it gets dark, as that’s when you’re most likely to find your gerbil asleep, allowing you to catch it.
Watch Your Pets
If you have other pets in the house, they might have already figured out where your gerbil’s living. In particular, a cat’s hunting instincts will kick in, and it’ll stalk the gerbil until it comes out from its hiding spot.
Therefore, observe your pets for any changes in behavior. If they’re obsessed by a particular spot within the house, look closely for signs that they’re waiting for your gerbil to emerge.
How To Catch An Escaped Gerbil
You’ll no doubt be wondering what to do if your gerbil escaped. Once you know your gerbil’s definitely not nesting deep inside its bedding and you have at least a rough idea of its whereabouts, you’ll need to try and catch it.
Before you attempt to catch your gerbil, shut all doors and seal all cracks to prevent the gerbil from escaping again. Similarly, remove all pets from the room. Then, try the following steps:
Use A Net Or Box
By now, your gerbil will be tired and scared. That means it’s unlikely to come out by itself. Similarly, using your hands to catch your gerbils runs the risk of you dropping it again, especially if it bites you.
As a result, you’ll need a net or cardboard box to corner the gerbil and catch it. Nets with a long handle are best as they’re easier to control. It also means you can catch your gerbil from a distance.
However, not everyone will have a net lying around. If so, a large cardboard box will do instead. Place it over your gerbil and quickly slide something underneath. Then, tip the box over and move your pet to its cage.
Use A Humane Trap
If you can’t reach your gerbil, catch it using a humane trap. This is a good method if you’re still not entirely sure where your gerbil’s hiding but suspect it’s in a particular room.
A humane trap won’t kill or injure your gerbil. Instead, it’ll trap your pet until you’re ready to release it back into its enclosure.
To use one, put a piece of food inside the trap and place it in a dark corner of the room. This should tempt your gerbil out once it feels safe enough to go to the food.
If you don’t have a trap, place a few toilet roll holders in the room, as your gerbil may hide in them.
Create A Bucket Trap
You can also make your own trap using a bucket. To do so:
- Place an upright bucket against the wall.
- Line it with your gerbil’s favorite bedding, making sure it’s thick enough to break the rodent’s fall.
- Create a staircase for your gerbil to climb up. Books, magazines, or a plank of wood will work.
- Cover the top of the bucket with something that looks like the gerbil could climb over, like tissue or a piece of paper. It must be lightweight so that it collapses under the animal’s weight.
- Place your gerbil’s favorite treats inside the bucket to entice it. The stronger it smells, the better.
Once your gerbil climbs over the bucket, it’ll fall into it, allowing you to scoop it out and put it back into the cage. Keep checking back to see if it worked.
Lure The Gerbil With Bait
If all else fails, tempt your gerbil out of hiding with its favorite treats. After a few days, your gerbil will be hungry and thirsty and won’t be able to resist the smell of food any longer.
You’ll also need to monitor the room. As soon as the gerbil comes out to eat, you can pick it up and put it back into the cage.
Because of their small size, it can be difficult to locate escaped gerbils. However, there are plenty of methods that can help you find and catch it. Once you’ve put it back in the cage, take care to prevent it from escaping again. To do this, you may have to invest in a more secure cage.
Once you’ve caught your gerbil and put it back in its enclosure, take steps to gerbil-proof your home. While nothing is ever guaranteed, this will reduce the likelihood of your gerbil escaping in the future.