As a pet gerbil owner, the thought of letting your gerbils play outside may have crossed your mind a few times. Maybe you wanted to try giving your pet gerbils a new outside experience.
So can gerbils play outside? Yes, your gerbils can play outside under your watchful eye, but just know that it can be very dangerous for them. There are a lot of things to look out for that you have to consider.
You need to know what to look out for when letting your gerbils play outside, and also how to let them play safely.
Taking your gerbils outside comes with risks, but it can also be a fun experience for your gerbils if done right. So if you were thinking about doing it, here are a few things to consider and watch out for.
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Only Take Them out in Good Weather Conditions
Always keep the weather conditions in mind while thinking about taking your gerbils outside.
Pet gerbils spend most of their life inside with you so they are used to those conditions and how that feels.
The obvious weather conditions when you should not take them outside are when it’s raining or snowing. You do have to put some thought into what is too hot and what is too cold for them as well.
Gerbils get overly hot and cold faster than humans, so just because you can handle the temperature outside doesn’t mean that your gerbils can.
It’s best if the gerbils are outside on a nice sunny day where there are still clouds in the sky to give them shade from the sun.
Depending on where you live you may not get the chance to take your gerbils outside, especially if you live in a climate that is mostly hot or cold throughout the year.
Always use good judgment when checking the weather to see if it’s the right time to take your gerbils outside to play.
Should you use a Playpen or let Them Roam Free?
If you’ve decided that you wanted to take your gerbils outside, one of the first things you may want to consider is, should they play in a playpen or be able to roam free in the yard?
One of the most recommended ways to let your gerbils play outside is to let them run around inside of a good playpen.
A good playpen for gerbils should be tall enough to where they can’t climb out but also short enough so that you can still reach in and play with them yourself.
It’s best to place the playpen in a nice flat area where you can put down a bed of hay for them to walk around and chew on.
Make sure to bring toys and little hideaway huts for them to go into so they can feel safe.
The toys should be as plastic-free as possible for safety so they can have something to chew on.
While the little huts will give them a chance to take a break from the sun and give them a place to go if they feel overwhelmed.
You shouldn’t put the playpen in the grass because your gerbils will start to chew and eat the grass.
Grass has a high moisture content and it’s not healthy for a gerbil to eat grass. You also shouldn’t put the playpen on any kind of concrete that is too hot or cold because it hurt their feet.
Can They Roam Free in the Yard
This is not recommended because the gerbils may run too far and they may be harder to keep track of.
This is especially the case if you keep multiple gerbils, that’s too many gerbils to keep watch over outside.
Even if your gerbils are well behaved enough to do stuff like sitting on your shoulder, it still isn’t the best idea to let them free roam because you still have to watch for fast predators.
Watch Your Gerbils Behavior While Outside
Once you have your gerbils in the playpen, you want to keep an eye on how they are acting.
Gerbils are naturally curious so they will most likely chew the hay and run around the playpen borders.
This is a good sign, it shows that they’re comfortable and they can let their curiosity out and play.
They should feel comfortable enough to play with any toys you’ve brought out for them while they constantly check the borders of the cage.
Basically, if your gerbils are acting normally but with a bit more curiosity, then it’s a sign that they are comfortable and like being outside.
Signs That They’re not Comfortable
You should also watch out for the signs that your gerbils aren’t too comfortable and don’t like being outside.
If your gerbils start to become wide-eyed and sit still too long that could mean that the outdoors are too much for them and they feel overwhelmed.
You can also tell if they’re overwhelmed if they lay flat on the ground and not move in some cases.
Another behavior to watch out for is if they do the opposite and run frantically around the playpen looking for any way out.
This shows that they are nervous and their first instinct is to run as fast as they can when they feel threatened or unsure of their situation.
The best thing to do is to take your gerbils back inside so they don’t get traumatized by their experience outside.
Always watch for your gerbil’s reactions the whole time they are outside to see when they’ve had enough of outside playtime.
Watch for Other Nearby Animals
While playing outside with your pet gerbils there are still other animals that you have to watch out for.
Different kinds of predators and even your pets can be a danger to your pets for a number of reasons.
Taking your gerbils outside is already risky, but not watching out for other animals while you’re out there is even riskier.
Watch for Predators
Gerbils are prey animals so you need to make sure to pay attention to them while they are outside.
Protecting them from their natural predators should always be on your mind while they are playing outside.
There are all kinds of different animals that won’t hesitate to take your pet gerbils away so you have to stay vigilant.
Keep an eye out for any predator birds that start to circle overhead, because when they see the chance to swoop down, they will.
The birds may even start perching nearby while waiting for any opportunity to strike.
Depending on where you live you may also want to watch out for snakes, foxes and any other predatory animal that preys on small rodents.
Watch for Your Other Pets
Although gerbils are social animals, if you have any other pets you may want to keep them away from your gerbils while they play outside.
Dogs may see you playing with the gerbils and accidentally knock over the playpen with the gerbils inside when they come over.
Your dogs may not stumble into it on purpose, but if they do, they could possibly end up hurting your gerbils.
If you have cats, you definitely want to keep them away so they don’t start to hunt your pet gerbils.
Cats see rodents as prey. They will see no difference between your pet gerbils and any other rodent. So be very careful to separate the two.
Also, it’s worth noting that having any other animals that close to your gerbils while they’re outside will stress them out.
Bringing Your Gerbils Back Inside
There are a couple of things to look out for once it’s time to pack up and bring your gerbils back in.
Check your gerbils to make sure nothing is attached to them. Things like small bugs that may have attached themselves or any kind of grass or leaves that may have gotten stuck to them.
You don’t want them to bring back anything foreign to their habitat inside, so a quick check of their bodies will do just fine.
After the gerbils are done playing outside they may have gotten a little dirty. Once your gerbils are back in their cage make sure to fill up their dust bath with fresh dust.
Your gerbils will enjoy rolling around in fresh dust so that they can clean themselves off.
The dust should clean them of most things that you may have missed after checking their bodies.
Once your gerbils are back inside and have cleaned themselves off with the dust bath, you’ll have completed a successful day of playing outside!
Risks and Rewards for Outside Play
It can be very risky to let your gerbils out of their cage and it’s even riskier to let your gerbils play outside. Gerbils are very jumpy so it’s easy to lose them if they are frightened and decide to run.
Keep an eye on them the whole time they are outside and it’s good practice to not leave them unattended while they are out there.
Leaving them unattended may attract predators that see an easy meal. Even a safe playpen will not keep them from trying to take your gerbils.
So always watch out for predators on the ground and in the sky while your gerbils are outside playing.
Always watch your gerbils behavior the whole time they are outside playing. Some gerbils will instantly like being outside while other gerbils won’t take to it as well.
Make sure to keep outside playtime short and gauge how your gerbils feel while outside in the open world and remember to bring them in if they show they don’t like it.
Letting your gerbils play outside can be a great experience for your gerbils. It allows them to get all of their extra energy out and it can also trim their nails for you in the process.
So as long as you take the time to do it safely, your gerbils may have a fun new activity that they would like to do every now and again.