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Wood serves two purposes for gerbils: they gnaw on it for entertainment and use it to wear down their teeth, which never stop growing. The wrong type of wood may sicken your pet, so choose appropriate wood or offer your pet a natural alternative that also helps you recycle.
Types of Wood
In general, nontoxic and untreated wood work well for gerbil chews. You may give your gerbil branches from hardwood trees, so long as you know the trees were not sprayed, painted or chemically treated. Your pet will chew through soft woods in no time. Pet stores also sell blocks of wood for gerbils and hamsters; these are convenient and safe for your pet.
While wooden chews marked for gerbils are naturally safe for these small pets, wood chew toys marked for cats, dogs or other animals are not necessarily right for your gerbil. These products might be treated with dyes, paints or other substances that are perfectly safe for those larger animals but toxic to smaller pets. For safety's sake, stick to toys specifically packaged for gerbils or hamsters. Additionally, gerbils will chew anything you place in their cage, so ensure all cage toys and supplies are nontoxic.
Many gerbils really enjoy chewing on toilet paper or paper towel rolls. The thin cardboard and paper shred easily, satisfying your pet's need to gnaw. Your gerbil can use the tube as a tunnel before chewing it into fluff. Plus, you naturally recycle the source material. Cardboard also works well for chewing and exploring.
If your gerbil gnaws on cage bars or water bottles, he may be indicating that he's bored. Offer your gerbil some enrichment in the form of paper tunnels or wooden chew toys. If you're handy, you may drill some round holes in a 4-inch-by-4-inch block of wood to create a gerbil jungle gym that doubles as a wooden chew.
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- Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images