Do Gerbils Need Sand Baths?

Rodent types of pets, like gerbils, don’t require water baths. So, how do they stay clean? Do gerbils need sand baths?

Like other rodent pets hamster, chinchillas, gerbils also require sand baths. They use sand instead of water to clean themselves. It keeps their fur clean, healthy, and shiny. Gerbils clean themselves through sand baths.

They roll in the sand and clean their fur. There is no need for your participation. Just make the arrangement and select the appropriate location to avoid mess in the home.

Do Gerbils Need Sand Baths?

Do Gerbils Need Sand Baths

Sand baths are a common practice for gerbils, and they provide a number of benefits for these small creatures. In this process, they roll around in fine sand to clean their fur and remove dirt and excess oils.

In the wild, gerbils live in sandy regions like deserts where the environment is dry. There is a scarcity of water but with lots of sand instead. Therefore, they use sand to clean themselves. They dig out small holes near soft sand and roll in it.

Sand baths are an effective and simple method for promoting the natural grooming behavior. Furthermore, it keeps their fur clean and healthy and prevents skin problems. It can be a source of mental stimulation and enrichment for gerbils.

Why Sand Bath For Gerbil?

Gerbils originate from dry climates with less rainfall. So they develop themselves to live without limited access to water. So they use sand to clean and control the excess oil. Sand baths balance oils on their skin and coats while water baths can strip these oils.

Giving them a water bath is not a good idea. It causes several issues. For example, gerbils are naturally desert animals. If they get wet, it can cause hypothermia. They become too cold after a water bath.

Gerbils are sensitive and easily stressed animals. When you place them in a water bath, gerbils will become highly stressed as they do not engage naturally. Stress can have bad effects on their health, including an increased susceptibility to seizures triggered by anxiety.

Bathing in water can strip the natural oils from a gerbil’s skin and coat. This leads to the overproduction of oils as the gerbil’s body tries to compensate. This excess oil can irritate their skin and even pave the way for bacterial infections.

Instead of water baths, consider spot-cleaning methods using a damp cloth or unscented, chemical-free pet wipes for your gerbil to make them clean and smell free. However, if your gerbil gets wet, it’s crucial to dry them thoroughly to avoid hypothermia or pneumonia.

How To Set Up Sand Bath For Gerbils?

When it comes to choosing sand for your gerbil’s bath, it’s important to select a suitable type of sand. Many pet stores offer specially formulated chinchilla sand or dust that can be used for gerbils as well. The sand should be silica-free or it can cause respiratory problems.

This type of sand is fine-textured and free of harmful additives, ensuring the health and safety of your gerbil. Avoid using regular sandbox or play sand, as these can contain rough particles or chemicals that may harm your gerbil’s delicate skin.

To provide a sand bath for your gerbil, you’ll need a shallow dish or container big enough for your gerbil to comfortably roll around in. Fill the dish with a thin layer of sand, enough for your gerbil to easily bury themselves in. Place the dish in your gerbil’s enclosure and allow them access to it for a few hours each day.

It’s important to note that while sand baths are beneficial for gerbils, they should not be a substitute for regular cage cleaning and maintenance. Ensure that your gerbil’s cage is kept clean, with fresh bedding and ample space for them to move around.

How Often Should Gerbils Have a Sand Bath?

The frequency of sand baths can vary based on your gerbils’ behavior and your observations. Many gerbil owners provide a sand bath in their gerbil’s cage once or twice a week. Leave it in for about 10 minutes during each session to let your gerbils use it.

Don’t leave the sand bath container in the cage permanently. They will use it as a toilet and never bathe in this sand.

Replace the sand at least once a week or sooner if it becomes soiled. Regular cleaning ensures that your gerbils have a hygienic environment for their sand baths.

However, some gerbils may enjoy sand baths more frequently, while others may not be as interested. Tailor the frequency to their specific needs and habits.

If you have a group of gerbils, you may notice them grooming each other in the sand bath area. This social grooming behavior is natural and beneficial for their bonding.

Can I Use Sand in My Gerbil Cage?

While sand is essential for gerbils to enjoy their sand baths, it’s not suitable as the primary substrate for their entire cage. Gerbils have specific needs when it comes to their cage bedding and support their tunnel-building behavior.

Gerbils in the wild are used to make tunnels using plant roots and the surrounding environment. Sand doesn’t hold its shape, making it unsuitable for tunnel construction.

Gerbils use a combination of bedding materials, including nesting material like hay or shredded paper, to create cozy nests in their burrows. Sand doesn’t provide the insulation and comfort necessary for nesting.

Proper bedding materials are necessary to absorb moisture, control odors, and maintain a clean and comfortable living environment for your gerbils. To create a suitable cage for your gerbils, use bedding materials like aspen shavings, paper-based bedding, or a mix of these materials in the main part of their cage.

What Type Of Sands Should I Use For Gerbil Sand Bath?

Since sand is the main element for a sand bath, you should select the right type of sand for this. So you can use chinchilla sand which is specially used for small pets like gerbils and chinchillas.

This sand is soft on their skin and paws. But make sure the sand you choose is dust-free to prevent respiratory issues in your gerbils. Look for options that are highly absorbent to effectively remove excess oils and dirt from their fur.

Do not use

  • Builder’s Sand is not suitable for gerbils, as it can contain impurities and bacteria that are harmful to your pets.
  • Beach sand is often dirty and coarse, making it unsuitable for gerbil sand baths due to potential bacterial contamination.
  • Kinetic or play sand is not appropriate for gerbil sand baths as it can contain chemicals and dyes that may be harmful.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can baby gerbils have sand baths?

Yes, baby gerbils can have sand baths. Baby gerbils usually start grooming themselves at a young age, and sand baths can help them develop this natural behavior.

How deep should a gerbil sand bath be?

The depth of a gerbil sand bath is crucial to ensure your gerbils can effectively groom themselves without any discomfort. Ideally, the sand in the bath should be approximately 1 to 2 inches deep.


Providing your gerbils with sand baths is essential for their hygiene, mental, and overall health.

You need to set up a proper sand bath area and appropriate type of sand. At least once a week, take them for sand baths. Your gerbils will be happy, active, and clean in this way.

Leave a Comment