WRITTEN BY CYNTHIA KURTZ | EDITED BY GRETA KRATZ

Gerbils are exceptionally clean creatures, and generally they can keep clean on their own with regular dust baths. Most gerbils go their entire lives without getting wet!

Sometimes, however, it will be necessary to give your gerbil a bath with soap and water. It is important to know how to do this as safely and gently as possible!

 It can take a lot of supplies to wash a gerbil...

It can take a lot of supplies to wash a gerbil...

The following are some reasons you may need to bathe your gerbil:

  • They got into something sticky (maybe after a great escape!)
  • They had a bout of diarrhea, and now that they are healthy need a little cleaning up
  • They have fleas or mites
  • They are going to a show and have stains on their coat

The first step is to gather your supplies:

  • You will need three (3) bins or carriers. It is best to use bins with very high sides, because as soon as you put your gerbils in the water they will probably try to jump out!
  • A pet-safe shampoo. For show gerbils, a whitening shampoo for dogs can be helpful in cleaning up white bellies and markings!
  • Paper towels
  • Something small to use for pouring water. I use a contact lens case because I usually have one handy in my bathroom!

 

Once you gather your supplies, set up the “tubs”

The first bin should have about an inch of water and some shampoo in it. Swirl it around to get it nice and bubbly! Make sure the water is a good temperature; it should be just a little bit warmer than room temperature.

The second bin should have about an inch of clean water in it. This will be where you rinse off your gerbils.

The third bin or carrier should be lined with a paper towel for your gerbils to dry off.

Place your gerbils in the bin of soapy water, and gently use your fingers to massage their fur, especially around their bellies. Be careful not to get any soapy water in their eyes!

Once they have been scrubbed, move them to the bin of clean water. Use your scooping device to slowly pour water over their backs and rinse the soap out. You may also want to pick them up and carefully rinse their bellies of soap.

Put them in the carrier on a paper towel. They might start rolling on the towel to dry off. Once they have settled down a little, pick them up and dry them off with a paper towel by hand as much as possible.

 Jameson and Storm getting all scrubba-dub-dubbed!

Jameson and Storm getting all scrubba-dub-dubbed!

While you can definitely wash cage-mates together, it’s a good idea to swap out the dirty bath water for clean water in between gerbils!

After your gerbil has been hand-dried a bit, they can go back in their cage. You’ll want to clean their cage before they go back in it, as it doesn’t make much sense to put a clean gerbil in a dirty cage! If you have a show coming up and want to make sure your gerbils stay clean for a few days, keep them on a natural brown or white paper bedding and give them “bottomless” hides or boxes so they don’t try to make a mess where they sleep. You may also want to avoid any colorful treats or mineral blocks!

If possible, give your gerbils a dust bath the next day. You don’t want to do this immediately after their bath as it can dry out their skin and make them itchy. Waiting will also let them air-dry longer and make them super extra fluffy!

 

Hopefully you won’t have to wash gerbils too often. But when you do, you can be sure that you are doing it safely and that your gerbils will look great!

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