Gerbils are part of the rodent family. As a result, their teeth grow continuously.
In order to keep their teeth well maintained and at the right length gerbils will instinctively chew on a wide range of things.
In the wild this might be vegetation and wood, but what can we give to pet gerbils to have a similar effect?
In this article, I’ll explore whether gerbils should chew cardboard and paper and wether gerbils will actually eat cardboard and paper.
I’ll also answer some frequently asked questions about which types of cardboard and paper are safe for gerbils, and which aren’t.
Gerbils can chew on plain cardboard and paper. It’s good for their teeth and is a natural behavior. Gerbils will usually only chew cardboard and paper and won’t actually eat it.
Should gerbils chew on cardboard
Gerbils love to chew and cardboard and this is perfectly safe behavior.
Gerbils will naturally find things to chew on and chewing cardboard will help them to properly maintain their teeth.
Cardboard also acts as a great toy. Gerbils will enjoy chewing it and you can shape it in all sorts of interesting ways.
Gerbils will often chew cardboard up and use it as bedding too.
You should ensure that any cardboard you give your gerbil to chew is plain, with no ink printed sections and no other materials such as staples or packaging tape.
These could harm your gerbil, so only give them plain brown cardboard to chew on.
Can gerbils eat cardboard
Gerbils will not usually eat cardboard.
Their instinct is to chew the cardboard rather than swallow it. They will also enjoy using it as bedding.
There’s always a chance that a gerbil might accidentally swallow some cardboard whilst they are chewing it.
That isn’t much to worry about as their digestive system will be able to cope with a small amount of cardboard, some other rodent species like rabbits can even eat cardboard entirely with no issues.
Digestive blockages could occur if your gerbil ate a large amount of cardboard but that’s quite unlikely.
Gerbils simply don’t regard cardboard as food, they just enjoy chewing it up and perhaps using it as bedding material.
To be totally safe, I would recommend not giving the thick industrial cardboard types to your gerbil as these would be more likely to cause digestive blockages if swallowed.
Do gerbils like chewing cardboard
Gerbils love to chew on cardboard.
That’s great news for pet owners as it makes a brilliant and inexpensive toy.
It can also be really fun to build toys out of cardboard for your gerbil, you could even make little cardboard castles which they will enjoy chewing over time
Just make sure not to use things like glue and staples when making these types of toys.
Instead, use a tongue and groove approach to slotting different pieces of cardboard together.
You can even get some cardboard that basically comes ready-made as a treat container, so let’s look at something ideal for that job next.
Are toilet paper rolls safe for gerbils
Empty toilet paper rolls are perfectly safe for a gerbil.
They are made with plain carboard so are safe for gerbils. They do sometimes have a tiny bit of glue to stick the roll together but this won’t pose much of a risk.
Of course, to be extra careful you can always tear off these sections with the glue on.
Empty toilet rolls make a great toy for a gerbil.
You can put a tasty treat, like a few slices of bell pepper, in the middle of the tube and then fold in either side to create a little container.
Your gerbil will have lots of fun and mental stimulation chewing away at the cardboard to get to the treat.
It’s a much better way of stimulating them both physically and mentally than just handing them a treat with no challenge.
Can gerbils eat toilet paper
You should not give your gerbil toilet paper.
Toilet paper can contain ink or other chemicals, especially if it is scented or has added properties such as Aloe Vera.
Additionally, as toilet paper is specifically made to be absorbent it will quickly turn to a tough sticky mess when your gerbil chews it and it’s not something you would want in their digestive system.
Ultimately, most toilet paper would probably be fine in small quantities, but it’s difficult to know for sure what was used in the manufacturing process which is why I would just advise that it is avoided altogether.
Can gerbils eat colored cardboard or paper
You should not let your gerbil eat colored cardboard or paper.
If there is printed text or an image on the cardboard or paper or the whole lot is a single block color then it must either be ink or dye.
Either way, ingesting ink or dye can be harmful to your gerbil so you should only ever give them plain, ordinary cardboard.
Can you put cardboard in a gerbil’s cage
Cardboard can act as a great toy for your pet gerbil and it is perfectly safe to put a small amount of plain cardboard in their cage.
They will enjoy chewing on the cardboard and they may even use it for their bedding.
You need to make sure you remove any potentially dangerous materials that often come with cardboard, such as staples, packaging tape or ink colored cardboard.
These can be very harmful to your gerbil. Since pet gerbils live in such a safe environment they can sometimes be bad at assessing danger for themselves, giving them cardboard with lots of staples in it could really do a lot of harm.
Can gerbils eat paper
It is perfectly safe for gerbils to chew paper.
Gerbils won’t tend to eat paper as they don’t view it as food.
There is a chance they could accidentally swallow some paper whilst they chew it but this should cause much of an issue.
Their digestive system should easily be able to cope with a small amount of accidentally swallowed paper, although if they did swallow a lot then there is a risk of digestive blockages.
But generally paper is very safe to give to gerbils and they will enjoy chewing on it and using it as bedding.
Can gerbils eat newspaper
You should not give your gerbil newspaper to chew or eat.
Newspaper can be dangerous for your gerbil due to the high amount of ink in the paper.
This ink could have toxic effects for your gerbil so you should never let them chew newspaper.
That’s the same for any magazines which can contain all sorts of chemicals that would be bad for your gerbil.
If you want to give your gerbil paper or cardboard you should only give them plain brown cardboard or plain white paper, with no ink or any other treatment.
Which cardboard should I avoid for my gerbil
Always use plain cardboard or paper for your gerbil.
Never use anything with ink or covered in packaging tape or staples.
Generally, the thinner types of cardboard are better, the type used for general household deliveries or packaging boxes.
You should avoid giving very thick industrial cardboard to your gerbil, this is much more likely to cause a digestive upset or blockage for your gerbil if accidentally swallowed.
In gerneral, both carbaord and papaer are very safe things to give to your gerbil and they will love chewing on them.
So I fully encourage you to go and create some fun and interesting toys and structures for your gerbil using cardboard and paper.
Both you and your gerbil will have a great time!