Gerbils enjoy rolling around in small pots of sand, an activity that gives the animal a chance to scrub both fur and skin and free itself of dirt.
Water-baths are not good for gerbils as they leach away vital molecules from their coats, and this can lead to skin problems. Water baths should only be used in emergencies, such as when a gerbil has something potentially harmful stuck to its fur.
A sand bath is the gerbil equivalent of the jacuzzi... well, almost!
Here's how to 'fill the tub' for a gerbil sand bath:
- Purchase suitable pet-friendly sand
Pet bathing sand should be available at your local pet supplies store. Chinchilla sand will do just fine. Make sure to buy sand and not dust, as this can cause respiratory problems.
- Use a suitable bowl for the sand bath
Use a bowl that won’t tip over easily. Your pet will be scrabbling around in the sand, so a flat base is best. Only a little sand need be used - no more than halfway full.
- Place your pet in the sand
Place your gerbil gently into the sand. Don’t pour any sand over it - they will sort themselves out. They’ll wriggle in the sand, giving themselves a good scrub in the process.
Some owners like to have a permanent sand bowl in their gerbils’ enclosure so that they bathe whenever they want to.
Note: many gerbils take to sand baths very readily, while others are less inclined to take the plunge. It might therefore be a good idea to find out what your own gerbils like before investing in permanent sand bath fittings.