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 the best beddings for gerbils 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.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites – 2022
|Best Overall||Carefresh Shavings Plus Animal Bedding||
|Best Value||Oxbow Pure Comfort Animal Bedding||
|Premium Choice||Dr Hemp All Natural Pet Bedding||
|Carefresh Small Animal Bedding||
|Kaytee Clean & Cozy Animal Bedding||
The 10 Best Gerbil Beddings
1. Carefresh Shavings Plus Small Animal Bedding – Best Overall
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 for gerbils the smart choice.
2. Oxbow Pure Comfort Small Animal Bedding – Best Value
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 gerbil 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.
3. Dr Hemp All Natural Pet Bedding – Premium Choice
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 gerbil bedding, hemp is one of the safest available. It is also perfect for building and tunneling, which your gerbils will love.
Hemp bedding for gerbils 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 gerbil 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.
4. 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.
5. Kaytee Clean & Cozy Small Animal Bedding
Kaytee is another brand with a reputation for safe and good-quality bedding for gerbils. 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.
6. Vitakraft Fresh World Small Animal Bedding
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 for gerbils 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.
7. Living World Aspen Shavings
Aspen shavings are the prime choice when it comes to wood shavings as bedding for gerbils. They are hypoallergenic, non-toxic, and processed to remove dust. And inexpensive to boot!
Gerbils love chewing on the Aspen gerbil bedding, but overall, they are not appropriate for gerbils unless mixed with other substrates like paper bedding. Additionally, depending on the batch and brand, you can sometimes receive a bag that is quite dusty.
8. 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 alone 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 substrates to make the perfect gerbil bedding.
9. Brown’s Naturally Fresh! Corn Cob Bedding
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 substrates means that we really only recommend corn cob as a filler to stretch out other gerbil beddings.
10. Kaytee Kay-KOB Bedding and Litter
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.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting The Best Gerbil Bedding
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 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 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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
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!
Conclusion: Best Bedding For Gerbils
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.
For more info on Gerbils, Hamsters & more check out these posts:
- Best Gerbil Cages
- 10 DIY Hamster Bin Cages You Can Build Today
- 8 DIY Hamster Cages You Can Build Today
- Best Bedding for Guinea Pigs
Featured Image Credit: nidan, Pixabay