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10 Best Beddings for Gerbils 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021

Small Pet Select Natural Paper Bedding main

Are you a new gerbil owner adrift in a sea of pet products? Or perhaps you’re just looking for a better bedding option for your fuzzy friends and want some thoughtful advice. Either way, we’re here to help!

In this article we have collected 10 different beddings and assessed each for suitability in a gerbil home.

We hope these reviews will help you cut to the chase and find the safest, comfiest, and best bedding for your fuzzy friends.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Carefresh Shavings Plus Small Animal Bedding Carefresh Shavings Plus Small Animal Bedding
  • Non-toxic and chew safe
  • Super absorbent
  • Excels at odor reduction
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Oxbow Pure Comfort Small Animal Bedding Oxbow Pure Comfort Small Animal Bedding
  • Non-toxic and chew safe
  • Very absorbent
  • Superior odor reduction
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Dr Hemp All Natural Pet Bedding Dr Hemp All Natural Pet Bedding
  • Naturally dust free
  • Extremely absorbent
  • Great odor reduction
  • Carefresh Small Animal Bedding Carefresh Small Animal Bedding
  • Super soft and comfy
  • 99% dust free
  • High absorption
  • Kaytee Clean & Cozy Small Animal Bedding Kaytee Clean & Cozy Small Animal Bedding
  • 99% dust free
  • Non-toxic and chew safe
  • Biodegradable and compostable
  • The 10 Best Beddings for Gerbils – Reviews 2021

    1. Carefresh Shavings Plus Small Animal Bedding – Best Overall

    Carefresh Shavings Plus Small Animal Bedding

    Combining safety, absorbency, and superior substrate composition, Carefresh Shavings Plus is by far our favorite pick for gerbil bedding. The Carefresh brand is a longstanding and knowledgeable company for small pet needs, and provides excellent customer service.

    Perhaps the best part is that this is a mixture of soft plant fiber puffs and wood non-toxic shavings. New owners won’t have to be overwhelmed by mixing different substrates together and testing them out right off the bat. Snag Carefresh Shavings Plus to get your gerbil’s home set up simply and safely.

    All of that, plus a reasonable price point just makes this bedding the smart choice.

    Pros
    • Non-toxic and chew safe
    • Super absorbent
    • Excels at odor reduction
    • 97% dust free
    • Biodegradable and compostable
    Cons
    • Gut impaction possible if large amounts ingested

    2. Oxbow Pure Comfort Small Animal Bedding – Best Value

    Oxbow Pure Comfort Small Animal Bedding

    Between the excellent absorption properties, superior odor reduction, and very budget-friendly price we can confidently say that Oxbow provides the best bedding for gerbils for the money.

    Oxbow is a trusted company and their attention to the safety and happiness of your pets is obvious with this bedding. It is virtually free of any irritating dusts, made from pure paper with no inks or additives, and super soft.

    The only downside is that the soft plant fibers are not optimal for tunnel building gerbils. You will need to mix in some other safe substrate like hay or aspen shavings.

    Pros
    • Non-toxic and chew safe
    • Very absorbent
    • Superior odor reduction
    • 9% dust free
    • Low price range
    • Biodegradable and compostable
    Cons
    • Gut impaction possible if large amounts ingested
    • Needs to be mixed with other substrate

    3. Dr Hemp All Natural Pet Bedding – Premium Choice

    Dr. Hemp All Natural Pet Bedding Bag

    For a truly premium gerbil bedding option, look no further than Dr Hemp All Natural Pet Bedding. The hemp plant is part of a gerbil’s natural diet in the wild, so as a bedding hemp is one of the safest available. It is also perfect for building and tunneling, which your gerbils will love.

    Hemp bedding is also particularly good at absorbing liquid. It excels at odor control, and the bedding itself is scentless and naturally dust-free so it won’t bother your gerbil’s sensitive nose or respiratory system.

    However, all of those upsides come at a price – and quite a steep one when compared by volume to other beddings! Dr Hemp is significantly more expensive than any other items in our list, but also very safe and well suited for gerbils in particular.

    Pros
    • Naturally dust free
    • Extremely absorbent
    • Great odor reduction
    • Long lasting, so you use less over time
    • Recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable
    • Extremely limited herbicides and pesticides, no chemical residue on bedding
    Cons
    • Significantly more expensive by volume than any other bedding

    4. Carefresh Small Animal Bedding

    Carefresh Small Animal Bedding

    Combining safety, comfort, high absorption, and great customer service, Carefresh is a solid middle of the road choice.

    The low price is somewhat mitigated by the paper-based bedding, which needs to be mixed with other substrate to make it a good fit for gerbils. You can add hay, aspen shavings, or shredded paper to spread the Carefresh out and give your gerbils more room and better materials for tunnel building.

    Please keep in mind that with any paper-based bedding, you’ll want to make sure your gerbil does not eat a significant amount. Ingesting large amounts can cause extremely dangerous gut impactions, which are particularly deadly to very small creatures like gerbils.

    Pros
    • 99% dust free
    • High absorption
    • Great odor reduction
    • Super soft and comfy
    • Biodegradable and compostable
    • Made from sustainably sourced cellulose fibers
    Cons
    • Gut impaction possible if large amounts ingested
    • Needs to be mixed with other substrate

    5. Kaytee Clean & Cozy Small Animal Bedding

    Kaytee Clean & Cozy Small Animal Beddin

    Kaytee is another brand with a reputation for safe and good quality bedding. Completely free of scents and chemicals that may cause respiratory issues, this plant-based substrate has also been processed to remove 99% of dust. It also boasts some of the highest absorption of any bedding brand on the market!

    The major downside for the Kaytee Clean & Cozy is the combination of mid-range in price with the fact that it should not be used as the sole bedding for gerbils. Paper bedding alone has very low tunnel-ability, which is key for gerbils. You will want to mix it with another substrate like aspen shavings or hay.

    Pros
    • 99% dust free
    • Non-toxic and chew safe
    • Biodegradable and compostable
    • Great odor reduction
    • Up to 20% more absorbent than other brands
    Cons
    • Mid-range price
    • Gut impaction possible if large amounts ingested
    • Needs to be mixed with other substrates

    6. Vitakraft Fresh World Small Animal Bedding

    Vitakraft Fresh World Ultra Strength

    For a very budget-friendly, low-dust gerbil bedding option, check out Vitakraft. It is one of the types made from soft paper, so it is safe to chew and very absorbent. Keep in mind that you will want to mix it with other substrates like hay or aspen shavings so your gerbils can tunnel and build.

    The coolest thing about Vitakraft’s bedding is that it is made from 100% recycled paper. And that doesn’t mean you’re getting any old paper either – it is all completely non-toxic and unbleached. We love the brand’s commitment to environmentally friendly materials AND the safety of your little friends.

    Pros
    • 5% dust free
    • Good absorbency and odor reduction
    • Low price range
    • Non-toxic and unbleached paper
    • Sustainable, made from 100% recycled paper
    Cons
    • Not as soft as Kaytee or Carefresh
    • Gut impaction possible if large amounts ingested
    • Needs to be mixed with other substrates

    7. Living World Aspen Shavings

    Living World Aspen Shavings

    Aspen shavings are the prime choice when it comes to wood shavings as bedding. They are hypoallergenic, non-toxic, and processed to remove dust. And inexpensive to boot!

    Gerbils love chewing on aspen shavings, but overall, they are not appropriate for gerbils unless mixed with other substrate like paper bedding. Additionally, depending on the batch and brand, you can sometimes receive a bag that is quite dusty.

    Pros
    • Hypoallergenic, scent free
    • Superior chewability, non-toxic
    • Inexpensive
    • Superior odor reduction
    Cons
    • Can be dusty
    • Needs to be mixed with other substrate

    8. Small Pet Select Natural Paper Bedding

    Small Pet Select Natural Paper Bedding

    As with other paper-based beddings, the Small Pet Select Natural Paper Bedding has impressively low dust, and very high absorption and odor control.

    However, paper bedding along does not provide the tunnel-ability gerbils need. Small Pet Select is a good option for a scent and chemical free base to add other substrate to make the perfect bedding.

    Pros
    • 99% dust free
    • High absorbency
    • Good odor reduction
    • Chew safe and non-toxic, made from unbleached paper
    Cons
    • Mid-range price
    • Gut impaction possible if large amounts ingested
    • Needs to be mixed with other substrate

    9. Brown’s Naturally Fresh! Corn Cob Bedding

    Brown's Naturally Fresh

    Brown’s Naturally Fresh Corn Cob Bedding is touted for its incredible liquid absorption and superior odor control. Another upside for gerbils, in particular, is that corn cobs are a naturally dust-free product.

    However, there are major downsides to corn cob bedding for gerbils. Firstly, it is hard and gerbils won’t like chewing or burrowing in it, which necessitates another substrate to mix it with. Furthermore, the high absorption also means it is prone to mold and will need to be cleaned more frequently.

    Combining the two previous points with the fact that it is expensive relative to other substrate means that we really only recommend corn cob as a filler to stretch out other beddings.

    Pros
    • Safe to chew and ingest
    • Naturally dust free
    • Awesome absorption
    • Superior odor reduction
    • Biodegradable and compostable
    Cons
    • More expensive than paper or wood-based bedding
    • Tough to chew and hard on their feet
    • Prone to mold
    • Needs to be mixed with other substrate

    10. Kaytee Kay-KOB Bedding and Litter

    Kaytee Kay Kob Bird & Small

    Another corn cob substrate, Kaytee Kay-KOB boasts super high absorbency and excellent odor control. It is naturally dust free and totally safe should your gerbil ingest it, making it a super safe and non-toxic addition to your gerbil’s home.

    But as we mentioned in previous reviews, unfortunately, corn cob just won’t cut it as a sole choice for gerbil bedding. We can really only recommend it as a mixer to add bulk and absorption due to its hardness, proclivity to mold, and comparatively expensive price.

    Pros
    • Safe to chew and ingest
    • Naturally dust free
    • Excellent absorption
    • Great odor reduction
    • Biodegradable and compostable
    Cons
    • More expensive than paper or wood-based bedding
    • Tough to chew and hard on their feet
    • Prone to mold
    • Needs to be mixed with other substrate

    Buyer’s Guide

    Proper bedding choice might just be the most important part of your gerbil’s home. Bedding is what your gerbil lives in and interacts with constantly. And it has a variety of purposes: something to chew on, build with, tunnel into, pee on. You want to make sure it is as safe and comfy as possible!

    But the learning curve for picking gerbil substrate can be a little steep for new owners. Wood shavings, shredded paper, hemp, corn cob, scented vs non – there are just so many options! In this buyer’s guide we have laid out the basic knowledge you need to choose the right bedding for your little buddies.

    A Little About Gerbils

    The gerbils we keep as pets are descended from the Mongolian gerbil. The natural habitat of the wild gerbil is grassland, shrubland and desert of the steppes in China & Mongolia. They dig tunnels in which to live, nest, hibernate, breed, and rest in – often as long as 26 feet!

    Gerbils regularly chew their bedding to build their tunnels. And that means they will inevitably ingest some as well. Between constant digging into the bedding and their proclivity for gnawing, that means you will need to choose substrate that is lightweight, non-toxic, and safe for their eyes & respiratory.

    Dusty bedding is a serious danger for gerbils. It causes respiratory, eye, and nose issues. You need to be wary of how much dust is already present on a substrate, and whether or not it crumbles into dust when chewed. Though not technically toxic, dusty bedding can hurt your gerbil over time just as easily.

    Safe Bedding for Gerbils

    Processed plant fibers are one popular option, like Carefresh and Kaytee. They are soft, springy chunks that are incredibly absorbent of liquid and odor. Many undergo rigorous dust extraction processes. Most gerbils will find digging in just plant fiber bedding challenging though, and you’ll want to mix it with other substrate.

    Aspen

    Aspen bedding is made from the shavings of aspen trees. As a wood-based substrate, it is easy and comfortable for gerbils to chew. It is also aesthetically pleasing and has a nice, natural scent. However, aspen shavings alone will not hold a tunnel shape, and some brands can contain dust and need sifting.

    Hemp

    Hemp makes an excellent bedding. It has incredible absorbency of liquids, and though it reduces odor it does not have a scent itself. Hemp is also naturally dust free, and wild gerbils eat hemp plants as part of their diet so it’s safe to digest. Though great for burrowing, it can be rather expensive.

    Corn Cob

    Corn cob bedding is another natural alternative. It is super absorbent, great at controlling odors, safe to ingest, and dust free. However, it is generally too hard for gerbils to comfortably burrow in and can be prone to mold growth. It is inadvisable to use corn cob as the sole bedding, and better as a mixer.

    Hay

    Hay can make a great addition to a bedding mixture but should not be used alone. It is totally safe for gerbils to eat, is good for their teeth, and they love using hay to strengthen the walls of their burrows.

    To get the perfect, cozy bedding for your gerbils you will probably want to experiment with mixing your own. Start with a few different safe substrates and vary the composition. You can even add a little cardboard, like toilet paper tubes, to give a little extra shape and variety!

    Unsafe Bedding for Gerbils

    Perfumed or artificially scented beddings are not safe options. Gerbils have incredibly sensitive noses and scented bedding can cause respiratory issues and skin & eye irritation, as well as be just plain overwhelming.

    Pellets

    Pellet bedding is also to be avoided. The pellets are hard packed, which makes them impossible for gerbils to dig and tunnel in. And when chewed, most pellets turn to dust and cause respiratory issues. Pellets should not be used as a bedding or a mixer.

    Cat Litter

    Never use cat litter for your gerbil’s home. Most litter is made of clay and silica, which is toxic to gerbils when ingested. Not only that, but cat litter is often perfumed and very dusty – both of which are very bad for gerbil respiratory health.

    Aromatic Woods

    Aromatic woods like cedar and pine should always be avoided. The strong smells can bother gerbils, and the phenols in the wood are toxic. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has determined that inhaling phenols over long periods of time can cause heart, kidney, liver, and lung damage.

    Inked Paper

    While plain or blank paper is an appropriate substrate, heavily inked and written on paper is not. Many inks are toxic to ingest, and these inks can also rub off on your poor gerbil buddy or irritate their skin.

    How to Prepare and Care for Your Gerbil’s Bedding

    Since gerbils love to tunnel, fill their cage with at least 6-7 inches of bedding. Once filled, pay attention to how much they chew & tunnel. If they aren’t digging or chewing, or if you see redness around eyes and nose, try a different bedding. Mix substrates together and test them out to find the perfect fit!

    • Cleaning your gerbil’s cage regularly is important for their health and safety. But when you clean their entire cage, you are destroying all their tunnels they live in and the scent trails they navigate by!
    • Spot cleaning smelly and wet bedding once or twice a week is recommended, while fully replacing and cleaning the cage should be done about once a month.

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    Conclusion

    With so many brands of gerbil bedding available, it can be a time consuming trying to find quality and budget friendly options. However, with our top 10 bedding reviews, and the helpful tips in the buyer’s guide we think making an informed decision can be as easy as read, click, buy.

    Carefresh Shavings Plus Small Animal Bedding is incredibly safe & comfy, while also containing a mixture of substrates for superior gerbil tunnel-ability – the combination of which makes it hands down our best overall pick! And for those who want a quality substrate that won’t break the bank, we recommend Oxbow Pure Comfort Small Animal Bedding as the best value choice.

    Happy tunneling!

    For more info on Gerbils, Hamsters & more check out these posts:

     


    Featured image credit: Small Pet Select Natural Paper Bedding, Amazon

    Nicole Cosgrove

    Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.