Gerbils are cute. They're not quite so cute when they're dead. Therefore you want to take care of them to ensure longest possible lifespan. Here's how.

The Cage: It must be at least a foot high, made of a non-chewable material like thick, thick plastic, glass, or metal. And if there are any large objects in the cage they can stand on (or if you have predatory animals like cats in the house), get a good cover for the top. Gerbils can jump much higher than you think.

For a good gerbil cage, the two most basic choices are the metal-wire cages, which most pet shops sell, or an aquarium, usually at least 10-gallon, which can be purchased at most pet shops and superstores like Walmart for about $10.00.
I don't recommend one of those S.A.M. cages with all the pretty colorful "toobs" and stuff.. When you actually get a gerbil in there, there is very little running and living space for an Africa-born burrowing animal. They are also much harder to clean, especially the tubes, the smell never comes out of the plastic, and the way the cage snaps back into the base is very dangerous. I've accidentally chopped off one of my gerbil's tails once trying to snap the cage back into place.

I believe the best choice is the 10-gal. aquarium. They are cheap, easy to clean, and provide a large window to watch your pets through.

Once you have a cage, the next step is to line it with bedding. When you purchased your gerbil, you must have seen the shavings in the bottom of the cage they were kept in; you can buy these at any pet store or superstore. If you can't find these, don't want to use them, or can't afford them, Simply lining the bottom with paper towels and then placing cardboard and cloth objects for the animals to chew up into nesting material works well.
A great thing that my gerbils love is just a simple brown paper bag. Opened and on its' side, it's a great little "burrow" that they will sleep and play in.
Whatever you do, don't use newspaper. The ink will make the gerbils sick. And try not to give them too much cardboard with ink printing on it, e.g., a cereal box, for the same reason. Give them the cardboard rolls found inside toilet paper and paper towels, plain paper napkins, old socks, etc.

Next, your gerbil needs food and water. A small bowl or dish with a wide mouth works well for holding whatever you choose to feed your pets. If you have no gerbil food handy, they can always eat pieces of bread, nuts (unsalted), sunflower seeds, tiny banana and apple slices (take out the apple seeds- they're poison), plain crackers, etc. If you try to feed them the standard gerbil-pellets and they won't eat them, you can always feed them the gerbil "treats" found in pet stores, but they will get fat and it's not very healthy. If you wish, you could probably continue feeding them bread and assorted crackers and fruits around your house, but you might want to check with a local animal care person to see if this is healthy.

For water, I've read that from time to time you need to place a dish of water in their cage for them to bathe, but it's usually better to buy a small-animal water bottle unless you want to clean up a spilled cup of water several times a day. If you don't have a water bottle, then make sure the cup you give them is somewhat steep (otherwise they will get shavings in the water). It must be heavy enough to not tip over if a gerbil stands on one end of it. Change it once a day.

If you feel the need to place toys, treats, etc. in the cage, the best things I can recommend are a paper bag and a thick plastic section of pipe, found in any home improvement store. Most of the colorful expensive things found in a pet shop can be easily made or found for much cheaper and the product is usually better quality.
Get soft pieces of wood from the store for them to chew on instead of buying them dyed blocks.
Give them a piece of pipe instead of a "toob"- those toobs are thinner plastic and easier to chew up.
Give them a paper sack instead of buying a little artificial "nest" for them at the store.

As for exercise, if I were you, I'd stay away from those little metal wheels- they squeak every time they move and they'll drive you insane. The plastic versions don't move as well and will get chewed up in no time.
Your best bet is to buy one of those plastic balls that they can run around the room in. Or just take it out, find a small room with no hiding spaces, and let it run around for a while.

As for names, you're on your own. Every time I named one of my pets, they ended up hating it. So choose wisely.

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