Do you have a gerbil?
Then you probably know they can’t use water to bathe.
Wild gerbils clean themselves by rolling around in sand.
You need to offer your pet gerbil the same type of bath.
This is similar to chinchillas. Can gerbils use chinchilla dust for their baths then?
Or is the type of sand they use and the dust chinchillas use simply too different?
Keep reading to find out. It turns out the answer is not a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, due to some confusing product naming conventions.
- 1 Can Gerbils Use Chinchilla Dust?
- 2 Chinchilla Dust For Gerbils: Final Thoughts
Can Gerbils Use Chinchilla Dust?
No, gerbils can not use chinchilla dust. If you have a gerbil, you should not give it any type of dust, because it can cause respiratory issues. However, you can use chinchilla sand, which works just as well to bathe your gerbil.
The problem is that chinchilla sand is often called chinchilla dust. The two terms are used interchangeably a lot. You want to make sure you only use sand to bathe your gerbil, not dust.
Chinchilla sand is a very fine powder that chinchillas and other small animals, like gerbils, can use to bathe. As chinchillas commonly use volcanic dust in the wild, many commercial sands also include volcanic ash or pumice so that your chinchilla can keep to its natural way of life.
The sand works at mopping up any excess oils and dirt on your pet’s coat and skin. The special sand should easily shake off your gerbil leaving it looking clean and fresh at the end of its sand bath.
What Sand Can I Use?
Chinchilla sand is not the only type of sand you can use for your gerbil. You can also use other commercial sands found at the pet store. It should say on the packaging that the sand is suitable for small animals such as chinchillas, gerbils and hamsters.
Most commercial sands contain one of the following compounds: silica, quartz, calcium, or volcanic pumice. I recommend never using builder sand, beach sand, or kinetic sand. These sands could cause serious harm to your gerbil due to their density.
How To Bathe Your Gerbil
To start with, you’re going to have to find a small bowl in which to bathe your gerbil. The bowl should be large enough for your gerbil to roll around.
Once you have your bowl, go ahead and add some sand to it. You want to add around an inch of sand to the bowl. This should be enough to clean your gerbil.
Place the bowl into your pet’s cage and leave it in there for a maximum of 20 minutes. This should be enough time for your gerbil to have its bath. After the 20 minutes are up you can remove the bowl and clean it.
Alternatively, you can do what I do with my chinchilla. That is to take it out of the cage and give it the bath in a pop-up play tent like these. That way, I don’t have to worry about later cleaning the sand out of the cage. Basically, it just makes clean-up a lot easier for me.
Your small ball of fluff should get a sand bath a couple of times a week to keep itself nice and clean. However, you can bathe it as often as once a day, depending on your personal preference.
Don’t Use Water Baths
Small animals like gerbils and chinchillas should never be bathed using water, because it can upset the balance of their natural oils. This can result in skin conditions and even infections.
Because of their size, they can also become cold very easily from water baths. This can result in a very sick pet, if it is unable to quickly warm up after.
Gerbils Using Chinchilla Dust: Related Questions
Next we will answer a few questions related to gerbil care. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments below.
What Is The Best Bedding For Gerbils?
There are many different bedding options for gerbils. The best option among them all is hay. It’s available at every pet store and your gerbil will love that it can dig around in it and create tunnels. Gerbils can also nibble on the hay throughout the day or even as a midnight snack!
What Is Toxic To Gerbils?
There are a few foods that are toxic to gerbils. These include apple seeds, avocados, daffodils, ivy, and buttercups. All of these foods are considered poisonous for your gerbil.
You need to be very careful what you feed your gerbil, because they are curious creatures and will eat just about anything!
Apple seeds might seem surprising. We think of apples as healthy, but the seeds actually contain cyanide. There is enough of it in the seeds to be lethal to your gerbil.
Fruits like avocados contain high amounts of fat and calcium. Such large amounts of both can be too much for your gerbil and cause it to become seriously ill.
Chinchilla Dust For Gerbils: Final Thoughts
Gerbils can not use chinchilla dust to bathe in, but they can use chinchilla sand. What’s the difference? Often nothing. Many people use those two terms interchangeably.
But if used correctly, dust is much finer and can cause respiratory issues in gerbils. Sand is coarser, so your pet won’t inhale it. If you are shopping for sand for your gerbil, make sure it is true sand and that it is safe for gerbils. If you are ever in doubt, ask your vet.
And if you want to know more about how these two rodents compare, check out my article on the difference between a gerbil and a chinchilla.