Have you just got a gerbil for your home? You might notice the weird behaviour of your gerbil scratching the glass. While that appears strange to you and me, it means that your gerbil wants you to listen.
Gerbils scratch the glass out of boredom or inadequate substrate/bedding to burrow. It’s a stereotypic digging activity due to the lack of floor space, darkness, and depth of the habitat.
While this behavior is not something to be worried about, you should still pay attention. This article includes ways to stop gerbils from scratching the glass.
Why is My Gerbil Digging at the Glass?
Digging or scratching the glass can often mean that the gerbil needs a more natural environment to burrow regularly.
Gerbils enjoy burrowing in darker areas. When your gerbil’s cage has multiple light sources and does not allow room for natural tunnelling, it can affect your gerbil mentally.
Gerbils dig on the corners as they are uncertain of their boundaries. Give them time to understand the new habitat and make changes to the environment to suit their natural needs.
Can a Gerbil Scratch Through its Cage?
Gerbils tend to scratch the cage bottom repetitively though their claws aren’t strong. While they can scratch, they cannot come out if the cage is glass.
Repetitive scratching can put the enclosure at risk if you have your gerbil inside a plastic tank. The cage can break anytime.
If you are raising gerbils for the first time in your life, you must pay close attention to their habitats.
Leaving them inside a cage totally different from their actual habitat can mentally and physically affect gerbils.
Studying what your gerbils need and fulfilling each criterion can significantly affect their quality of life.
Why Do Gerbils Bite Cage Bars?
A gerbil bites cage bars out of boredom or dental issues or to escape from the place. Bar-chewing is a serious issue if it persists for long.
Gerbils bite against rough objects like cage bars to trim down naturally. It’s a natural problem faced by gerbils. If their teeth fail to trim down at the right time, it can result in dental injuries and complications.
When gerbils bite cage bars for long, you need to carry them to a specialist to check if there are teeth misalignments. Otherwise, they can develop poor eating habits due to dental issues.
Another reason for gerbils to bite cage bars is to kill boredom. If you have brought in only one gerbil to your home, chances of boredom are high. Hence, biting the bar and scratching the glass can mean boredom and desire to escape from the place due to dissatisfaction.
If you wish to domesticate the gerbil, you must arrange a large space that allows ample movement and meets the criteria of natural habitat meant for rodents.
How to Stop Gerbils from Scratching the Glass?
To stop gerbils from scratching the glass, get a spacious gerbilarium with multiple levels, exercise wheels, toys, a water bottle, a food bowl, and natural elements like tree branches.
After raising gerbils from childhood, I can confidently tell you that the behaviour of scratching the glass significantly reduces when you spend time with them and provide better space.
There are three criteria to fulfil when you have gerbils at home:
1: Spacious Gerbilarium
Blue Cross recommends a cage size of 50cm in height, 70cm in length, and 35cm in width for two gerbils.
A gerbilarium needs to mimic the actual habitat of a gerbil with good cage additions. It’s advisable to have a two-layer gerbilarium with a small ladder connecting the two.
The lower region needs to contain bedding ideal for burrowing. However, the upper area should include a food bowl, water bottle, toys, and an exercise wheel.
If you have a baby gerbil, you can also leave tiny toys (made of wood) for him in the upper section.
To give them a pleasant experience, you can expand the cage further and include branches of a tree.
Note. Do not add cedar and pine branches as these are not healthy for gerbils.
2: Correct Bedding
Gerbils land up in stereotyping digging towards the corner of the enclosure whenever they do not find adequate substrate. Here is what you can do to improve the bedding and mimic the natural habitat.
Extend the floor space of the gerbil by 0.5 meters. This extension increases more room for activity.
Increase the depth of the bedding until it reaches 10 inches (25 cm). This depth is sufficient for gerbils to dig inside and have some privacy.
Cover the sides and back of the gerbilarium with a dark material, like dark-colored paper or a cardboard sheet. This darkness lets gerbils sleep longer and more comfortably.
If you do not have a tight budget, you can include multiple dark chambers so they can move on from dark to light to dark based on their needs.
3: Sufficient Human-Gerbil Time
Increasing your interaction with the gerbil is the key to healthier behaviors! Scratching the glass often means your gerbil is bored.
Even if you have provided a toy to gnaw on, it can sometimes become tedious due to lack of options and monotony.
The ideal solution is to play with your gerbil for as long as possible.
Here’s what I do, and it worked well:
Take the gerbil out of his cage.
Talk with him when he is outside.
Let him explore the surroundings.
In this process, it’s essential to ensure the gerbil is not prone to fighting with other animals.
If you are uncomfortable with letting your gerbil out at times, you can change the location of the cage. For example, let your gerbil sit on a different substrate like grass to have a unique experience.
Initially, your gerbil can become restless. However, this improves as the gerbil regularly interacts with several objects and humans.
Rodents, like gerbils, need special care and attention. Unlike dogs and cats, gerbils need dedicated, natural habitats to remain occupied and happy.
Otherwise, gerbils can bite cage bars, scratch the glass, and dig the glass out of boredom. These instances force gerbils to escape from space in search of a natural habitat.
When you spot gerbils scratching the glass at your home, remember to change the habitat, extend the space, and enhance your interaction with them.