Hello, my fellow gerbil lovers and welcome back to the gerbil vine! Thank you all so much for being here and for helping us spread around good gerbil care information.
So today’s topic is going to be out of tank time – Is it really needed? While it is true that gerbils need mental and physical stimulation, out-of-tank time can sometimes be stressful for them. Every gerbil is different, and often what works for one gerbil will not be the universal thing that works for all gerbils. Each gerbil has a different personality, and some gerbils can definitely be more reserved and shy. In my own opinion, forcing your gerbils to venture out of their safe space when they don't want to or they may not be ready to, can actually do more damage to them, and can impact your bond and trust process in a negative way. Gerbils are very sensitive small animals, and they can be easily prone to stress. As owners that love their pets, I know that it's never our intention to directly cause stress to our gerbils.
So one of the main reasons why out-of-tank time can be stressful for your gerbils would be the fact that gerbils use scent association and their tank has all of their sent in it. When putting your gerbils in a new space without any of their bedding or smell in it, this forces them to react to the new space, and sometimes that can be stressful for them. Gerbils do a lot of their recognition through what they smell, and a new clean environment will not be able to provide them the same security as their home will. They are also prey animals. In their tank, they have lots of places where if they get scared or nervous they can run and hide, including their burrows. In a free-roaming environment, the spaces for hiding are usually limited, and they are instead forced to be out in the open which can be a terrifying situation for some gerbils. This may not be the case with every gerbil, but when my gerbils have had free time in my bathroom, they get really nervous, they poop all over the floor a lot more than they do when they're in their tank, and they seem extra jumpy.. Because of this, I don't really give my gerbils out of tank time, though we've had multiple attempts over our time together, it's just something that they're not interested in.
Many people advocate for out-of-tank time for their small animals, and I think that is great. The only time I find out of tank time necessary is if you have a smaller enclosure. If you have a tiny enclosure, letting your gerbils out is a crucial means of exercise and stimulation for them.. Keeping your small pet cooped up in a small home all the time is definitely something that is detrimental to their health and their overall well-being. If you house your gerbils in a larger tank, like my tank which is a 40 gallon, there are various ways and means for you to provide all sorts of stimulation and enrichment for them so that you don't have to physically take them out of the tank to let them run around and get some exercise.
Another thing I wanted to quickly note is that if you are having difficulties just picking your gerbils up and holding them in your hands, taking them out of their tank and putting them in a new environment that you can attempt to bond with them is probably not going to be your best bet at building trust with them. Gerbils require a lot of patience, dedication, and consistency in order to sort of train them or get them to recognize you and be OK with you picking them up to hold them. If you just got your gerbils, it's especially important to let them settle in for quite some time before you attempt to shock them by placing them in a new space again. Some gerbils are really excited and outgoing and ready to go, so having them in a new space would be something that is super exciting for them. Not every gerbil is like this, and its important to be able to recognize signs of stress in your gerbils. Some signs that your gerbil may be stressed out would be excessive squeaking, jumping, or trying to climb the walls of the playpen, running around frantically without calming down, or even starting to fight with the tank mate who may be in the playpen with them, and constantly trying to hide. If you notice any of these signs I would discontinue the out of tank time until your gerbil no longer exhibits any of these issues.
So in conclusion I do not feel that out-of-tank time is necessary for the mental and physical stimulation of gerbils as long as they live in a decent or large-sized environment. If you have a smaller home for your gerbils, like anything under a 40 gallon, getting them out to run around and be able to be a bit more active would be something that is great, or if you are unable to fit a wheel in your enclosure, out of tank time may be a great way for you to provide them with some much-needed exercise. But please don't feel like this is something that you have to do with your gerbils . Like I mentioned earlier my gerbils have not been interested in coming out of their tank at all since I've had them, and this is something that I'm OK with, and I never push them. I think it’s important to listen to and respect our small pets and do not force them into uncomfortable situations. If your gerbil is willing and happy to get out of their tank, this is something I highly encourage.
So, thank you all so much for reading, let us know down in the comments your feelings on the discussion today, and if you currently or have previously given your gerbils out of tank time, and if they like it. Thank you, bye <3