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Gerbils, Chipmunk and Hamster Essentials for First Time Owners

Published by Emily on August 15, 2018

Gerbils, Chipmunk and Hamster Essentials for First Time Owners

What to buy for Gerbils, Chipmunks & Hamsters?

Small and fun, gerbils, chipmunks and hamsters make for great family pets. Ideal for keeping indoors, these rodents are entertaining and cute, as well as easy to look after. If you’re getting your first gerbil, chipmunk or hamster and you’re wondering what you need to buy, our informative guide can help with the essentials.


When picking your bedding, avoid clumping litters and softwood shavings which will cause digestive problems, whilst the oils from pine and cedar cause respiratory disease. Bedding made from paper products is the safest choice for bedding, and shredded paper is easily available. Gerbils, chipmunks and hamsters enjoy having a place to burrow and hide.


Your pet will need a fresh supply of water every day, which you can either place in a small ceramic bowl or in a plastic drinking bottle which fastens to the side of the cage. Gerbils, chipmunks and hamsters will enjoy eating pellet food, grass hay, seed mix, vegetables and a milk bone for a treat. This also helps them to keep their teeth worn down, as rodents’ teeth are constantly growing and need something to chew on.


Although typical hamster cages feature lots of plastic interlocking tubes, these can be too narrow for some hamster breeds, causing them to be uncomfortable and even dangerous. Instead, a large wire cage with plenty of room is preferred, whilst gerbils usually live in tanks with cages on top called a “gerbilarium”. However, tanks can become overheated in summer, so it’s ideal to place an ice pack in one corner. Chipmunks will happily live in a cage, but you should place plenty of branches and foliage inside for them to climb on.


Usually, you’ll only need a pet carrier when taking your furry friend to the vets, or if you’re moving house. However, you can also use a carrier to place your pet inside whilst you clean their cage, to prevent them from getting in the way. When choosing a carrier you should make sure that there is plenty of room for them to run around, with good ventilation. Place some of their bedding from their cage inside too, which will help to comfort them.


These pets are usually very clean and can take care of themselves when it comes to grooming. If your gerbil, hamster or chipmunk has longer fur, you may need to brush them gently with a soft brush. However, their main healthcare need is something to gnaw on and keep their constantly-growing teeth at the right length, so make sure they have plenty of durable chew toys.


As naturally very active animals, rodents love playing with toys. Chipmunks in particularly enjoy climbing, so something as simple as a branch in their cage can keep them entertained. Hamsters of course love exercise wheels, so make sure you have one attached to the side of their cage! When buying a wheel, look for ones which are big enough for your hamster to use without bending their back, and solid plastic wheels can prevent any injuries. Gerbils love to live in groups so having more encourages them to play more easily - just make sure they are all the same gender. They also enjoy digging and burrowing, so use plenty of bedding to keep them entertained.