I would absolutely cringe taking a sand bath. I don't like sand. I don't even like the ocean because you have to walk on the sand to get there. It's just sticky and crunchy and scratchy. Good thing I'm not a gerbil. There's really only one way to clean your gerbil. So drumroll, please... a gerbil sand bath!
Water baths should never be given unless there’s something attached to the fur that’s potentially fatal if they digest it i.e., soap, oil, etc. And if you’re in this situation, you need to get to your exotic veterinarian fast!
So How Do I Give A Gerbil Sand Bath?
First, you need your supplies. Grab yourself some chinchilla sand. But beware! There's a vast difference between chinchilla sand and chinchilla dust. You don't want chinchilla dust; it can cause respiratory issues in small animals.
You’re going to need a bathtub, too. This bath hut is perfect for a gerbil sand bath. (They’ll love you, promise.) And that’s it for supplies! Pretty simple, right? Now you’ll fill your gerbil’s bathing area (sounds so fancy) with 2-3 inches of sand… you need enough for your gerbil to roll around in. Put the bath filled with sand in your gerbil’s cage and make sure it’s in a separate area. Nothing should be in the way while they’re enjoying bath time. Your gerbil’s now ready for their bath. If it’s their first time, they may be a little shy. I don’t blame them. I’d be shy, too. Let them check it out on their own and don’t force anything. Be patient. Getting used to cleaning themselves takes time. If they don’t seem interested, remove the tub and try again later. It's really no big deal. Sand baths have nothing to do with gerbil health; they're really to keep their coats shiny and clean.
If they're super gung-ho about it (woohoo! ), allow your pet to roll around for 10 minutes max. Letting them bathe too long leads to potentially dry skin.
Aaaand… you're done! You've given your gerbil their first sand bath… congrats! But, again, while not giving a gerbil sand bath doesn't take a toll on your gerbil's health, there are many positives.
1. Their coats will look much healthier. And cleaner. Imagine not washing your hair for a week. Or a month. Or ever. If I did that, people would run far, far away. And we don’t want our little guys feeling self-conscious, do we?
2. They’re natural. Gerbils come from the desert, so giving them access to sand is, in a sense, putting them back in their natural habitat.
3. They’re fun! No other explanation needed.
Your gerbil will (hopefully) thank you and enjoy sand bathing. And you’ll enjoy watching them. And hey, if they don’t go for it, no worries. At least you tried.
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Want to learn more about gerbils? Check these out!
Gerbils vs. Hamsters as Pets: Which One is Right for Me?
Interacting with a Curbside Vet