Hey there! If you’re here, that means you have an interest in gerbils, perhaps even own a few!
My name is Casey and I have loved keeping rodents as pets since my teens.
From various hamster breeds to rats and now 3 beautiful Mongolian gerbil boys, I always find new adventures with each new furry friend I bring home!
My time as a veterinary technician has only expanded my knowledge of my favorite pocket pets, and not just about their health!
When I first started looking at inviting gerbils into my home, one of the very first questions, I asked myself was what is the best bedding for gerbils to burrow in?
Whether you’re just getting started or have been at it a while and are looking for some changes, having a good idea of the different bedding types is key to keeping happy and healthy gerbils.
The first thing I reviewed in my quest for answers was the different bedding brands, types and of course their burrow-friendly aspects. Here are my findings.
One of the most popular bedding types for all pocket pets is paper bedding. There are numerous brands and varieties that fall under this category, from crumbles to natural paper and even pelleted paper litter.
When you are looking at a good bedding type specific to our little gerbil furry friends burrowing habits, you are going to want to stick with the natural paper bedding.
I’ve had great success with the natural paper bedding, as it is fluffy, soft, and holds together surprisingly well for burrowing, tunneling, and nesting while also providing optimal absorption of urine.
Many pet stores use this bedding type for all of their pocket pets, so when you’re looking for your new gerbil friend, you can get a good idea of what they are already familiar with.
Wood Shavings and Sawdust
The second most popular bedding type for gerbils is wood shavings. Much like the paper bedding, there are several varieties and brands that offer different types of shavings and sawdust.
When reviewing the wood types you’ll want to keep in mind what it’s being used for, in this case burrowing gerbils.
Unlike bedding used for outdoor pets, you are definitely going to want to avoid implementing a strongly fragranced wood like cedar and woods that have high oil content like pine. Similarly, woods that are dusty should be avoided.
Sawdust, in my opinion, is one to avoid due to the simple fact that it is almost all dust, regardless of which wood type is used.
Not only can dust irritate eyes, but it can also irritate gerbils noses and lungs, leading to upper respiratory infections and potentially death.
In my experience, aspen has been the best choice for my 3 gerbils.
Aspen is one of the softest wood types around, meaning it won’t cause injuries to the face or eyes, it is one of the least dusty bedding types and holds together very well for burrowing, tunneling, and nesting.
Perhaps one of the best parts of an aspen bedding is that it aids in my gerbil’s natural instinct to chew. They love nibbling and shredding bits of their bedding for building mounds of nests.
Corn Cob & Wheat Based Bedding
Corn cob is one of the more popular options when it comes to trying non-traditional bedding types. While both corn cob and wheat-based beddings are typically used as kitty litter, they are highly absorbent and help keep odors down.
The downside of these products is that they have an uncomfortable amount of dust.
My personal experience is to avoid these two bedding types. My gerbils actually began eating the corn cob based bedding and stopped eating their regular food and hay.
As soon as I noticed this change in behavior, I immediately removed all bedding and replaced it with my usual mix of aspen wood shavings and natural paper.
Sand, as a rule, is very fine and does not hold together well unless moist, any one of us who have built sand castles can attest to this! For this reason, I don’t recommend sand as a burrowing option.
Some gerbil owners still use it and have some luck with keeping the area hydrated to help prevent cave-ins.
For me personally, I avoid it as a bedding option and instead use sand as a bathing source to help keep my gerbil’s coats clean and shiny.
One type of bedding that many gerbil owners don’t consider is a fiber bedding. Typically made from coconut, this is a bedding type that I’ll admit to not having any experience with.
I chose to add this option to this article based simply on the fact that there is an overwhelming amount of positive reviews not just for the intended reptile pets, but for pocket pets as well.
I have seen reviews that describe fiber bedding as odorless, great for burrowing and tunneling, absorbent and comfortable for pets to lay on and I may try this bedding in the future for my gerbils and see how they like it!
Best Bedding Options for Gerbils who Like to Burrow!
1. Carefresh Natural Premium Soft Pet Bedding
The natural premium soft bedding option is one of my favorites for its softness, 3x absorbancy, and low dust content.
This scent free option means I don’t need to worry about my gerbils olfactory senses being overwhelmed or potentially damaged by a strong smelling bedding.
The carefresh natural premium soft bedding is made from pulp waste fibers that were too short to make paper.
This “waste” from the papermaking process is gathered before the additions of inks, dyes, clay or chemicals.
Since it’s impossible to determine which trees were being used at any point in time for the production of paper, Carefresh further processes the pulp to remove potentially harmful aromatic hydrocarbons that could come from pine and cedar woods, leaving a basically odorless bedding.
They then sanitize the bedding to 380 degrees farenheight to prevent any type of growth of bacteria, mold or fungus.
When it comes to bedding material, this option is my top choice.
2. Kaytee Clean & Cozy White Small Animal Bedding
Super soft strips of paper-based bedding makes for a 99.9% dust free option for your gerbils.
It makes great nesting and burrowing material and the white color and absorption rate of 3x to 5x it’s normal size allows for quick and easy spot cleaning.
Making your gerbil bedding last longer without having to do a full cage cleaning each time.
3. Small Pet Select Premium Soft Paper Bedding
Highly absorbant in expanding 3x its packaged size and odor free, this small pet select bedding is comparable to Carefresh natural bedding.
It is lightweight enough for burrowing, sturdy enough for tunneling and soft enough for building nests.
4. Kaytee Aspen Bedding
This bedding is my second favorite, to the point where I mix it with the Carefresh paper bedding.
On its own aspen wood shavings are a great product that holds odor well, has less dust than other wood shaving types and is soft but durable for burrowing, tunneling and nesting.
Best of all it is biodegradable for an eco-friendly gerbil bedding option.
5. Carefresh Shavings Plus Bedding
The Carefresh shavings plus bedding brings the best of two bedding styles together for a fantastic gerbil burrowing bedding option.
This is a mix of all natual aspen wood shavings with a 30% addition of paper bedding.
This allows for easy and fun burrowing, optimal odor control, an option for chewing the wood for nesting, and overall an added asthetic to your gerbil habitat.
6. Supreme Tiny Friends Farm Chinchilla Bathing Sand
Gerbils love keeping their fur clean and shiny by rolling around in sand.
Unlike dust baths, sand is a larger kernel that won’t be breathed in after rolling around, making sand a safe alternative for keeping your gerbils healthy and clean.
7. Kritter’s Crumble All Natural Coconut Husk Fiber Reptile Substrate and Small Animal Bedding – Coarse
Since it’s made from natural coconut husk fibers it is great for chewing, burrowing and nesting.
While it’s listed for reptiles, many gerbil and other pocket pet owners enjoy using this fiber-based bedding to help keep their little furry friends clean and entertained.
Final Thoughts: What Is The Best Bedding For Gerbils to Burrow
At the end of the day it’s up to you to determine which bedding type and brand works best for your gerbil family.
While I have personally had a ton of luck with a mix of aspen wood shavings and carefresh natural paper bedding for my burrowing trio, you may find you like something different!
Don’t be afraid to try new bedding types, and mix your favorites to find the best burrowing solution, odor control and absorbency levels that fit your gerbils.
You may be surprised by their responses to different bedding types!
The suggestions I’ve provided in this overview are great starting places for anyone looking to welcome gerbils into their home, you’ll love watching your little furry friends burrow into their bedding as they make tunnels and nests.