It's sometimes assumed that because gerbils are desert creatures, they enjoy the heat. This is not true - in the wild they spend the hottest parts of the day in their cool underground burrows. As they can’t do this properly in captivity, you’ll need to take steps to cool your gerbil down should it get too hot. Anything above 77 degrees fahrenheit is too warm.
Too hot for gerbils - you'll need to take steps to cool them down in hot weather
If your gerbils are lying down and are less lively than usual, they may have become overheated. They'll need constant access to fresh water, and you're advised to follow these tips too:
- Make sure that the cage is out of direct sunlight
Cages shouldn’t be in direct sunlight, even when it’s not that hot outside. Placing a cage in direct sunlight puts the gerbils at risk of overheating, even if they can scurry down one of their tunnels. Direct sunlight is particularly an issue with cages made out of plastic or glass, so it’s best to position the cage out of it.
- Reposition the cage into a cooler part of your home
Where in your house is nice and cool? A room in the centre of your house? A room which doesn’t get much sunlight? Wherever is coolest, make sure that you prevent larger animals from accessing the cage, a situation which can be really stressful for gerbils.
- Find a fan
Just as you would for humans, you can get a fan to help cool down a gerbil enclosure. Just be sure that you’re not putting the fan in the cage, and that there is a place they can go to to escape the wind.
- Refrigerate a stone
According to some owners, you may have some success by refrigerating a stone and putting it in your pet’s tank. They can sit near it, or even on it, in order to cool down - be sure to make sure that the stone is clean first! If you’re finding that this is making the bedding damp, try putting the stones near to the outside of the cage rather than inside it.
One thing to remember with this technique is that it’s very risky to put these stones on top of the enclosure, no matter what it’s made of. If it’s bars, the stones may warp the bars or drop through and hurt your pet. If it’s a solid material, it may be too heavy and break the surface of your enclosure, potentially hurting your pet or allowing it a chance to escape.
- Put your gerbils in an air conditioned room
Do you have air conditioning in your house? If your rooms are going over 25 degrees in the summer then it may be a good idea to get some, even if it’s only one of your rooms.
- Relocate your gerbils temporarily
If it’s just too hot in your house, it might be wise to ask someone you know with a cooler house to take them in for a little while. Ideally, it will be someone who already keeps gerbils so that they know how to look after them.