Why Do My Gerbils Smell So Bad? Understanding the Causes and Solutions

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Gerbils are adorable, energetic, and easy to take care of, making them a popular choice among pet owners. However, one common problem that many gerbil owners face is the unpleasant smell that comes from their pets. The bad odor can be quite bothersome, especially if you keep your gerbils indoors.

In this article, we will explore the reasons why gerbils smell bad and provide you with some effective solutions to eliminate the odor.

What Causes Bad Odor in Gerbils?

Natural Body Odor

Like many other animals, gerbils have a natural body odor that can be quite strong. This is because they have scent glands located on various parts of their bodies, including their belly, chin, and feet. These glands secrete an oily substance that has a strong musky odor, which helps gerbils communicate with each other and mark their territory.

Poor Hygiene

Another common cause of bad odor in gerbils is poor hygiene. If you don’t clean your gerbil’s cage regularly, the accumulation of urine, feces, and food debris can create an unpleasant smell. Gerbils are clean animals, and they will try to avoid soiling their bedding and food areas.

However, if their cage is not cleaned often enough, the accumulation of waste can become overwhelming, leading to a strong and unpleasant odor.


Gerbils are omnivorous, which means they eat both plant and animal-based foods. If you are feeding your gerbils a diet that is high in protein or fat, it can lead to a stronger odor. This is because protein and fat are harder to digest and can lead to more waste being produced.

Also, feeding your gerbils too many treats or foods that are high in sugar can cause an imbalance in their digestive system, leading to a bad smell.

Health Issues

If your gerbils have an underlying health condition, it can lead to bad odor. Some common health issues that can cause a bad smell include dental problems, respiratory infections, and digestive issues. If you notice that your gerbils smell worse than usual, it’s essential to take them to the vet for a checkup.

How to Eliminate Bad Odor in Gerbils?

Clean the Cage Regularly

The most effective way to eliminate bad odor in gerbils is to clean their cage regularly. You should clean the cage at least once a week and replace the bedding, food, and water. You should also spot-clean the cage daily to remove any soiled bedding or uneaten food.

If you have more than one gerbil, you may need to clean the cage more frequently.

Provide a Healthy Diet

Feeding your gerbils a healthy diet can also help reduce the bad smell. You should provide them with a balanced diet that includes a mix of hay, pellets, vegetables, and fruits. You should also avoid giving them too many treats or foods that are high in sugar or fat.

Use Absorbent Bedding

Using absorbent bedding can help reduce the odor in your gerbil’s cage. Bedding made from recycled paper or wood shavings is excellent at absorbing moisture and odor. You should avoid using cedar or pine shavings as they contain oils that can be harmful to gerbils.

Provide Proper Ventilation

Proper ventilation is essential to maintain a fresh-smelling gerbil cage. You should place the cage in a well-ventilated area and avoid keeping it in a damp or humid room. You can also use a small fan to circulate the air in the room.

Use a Pet-Safe Deodorizer

the bad odor still persists, you can use a pet-safe deodorizer. There are many deodorizers available in the market that are specifically designed for small animal cages. Make sure to choose a deodorizer that is safe for gerbils and does not contain any harmful chemicals.


In conclusion, bad odor in gerbils can be caused by natural body odor, poor hygiene, diet, and health issues. However, there are many effective solutions to eliminate the odor, including cleaning the cage regularly, providing a healthy diet, using absorbent bedding, providing proper ventilation, and using a pet-safe deodorizer.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your gerbils stay healthy and happy, without any unpleasant smells.


How often should I clean my gerbil’s cage?

You should clean your gerbil’s cage at least once a week and spot-clean it daily.

Can a gerbil’s diet cause bad odor?

Yes, feeding your gerbils a diet that is high in protein or fat can cause bad odor.

Can poor hygiene affect my gerbil’s health?

Yes, poor hygiene can lead to various health issues in gerbils, including respiratory infections and digestive problems.

What is the best bedding for gerbils?

Bedding made from recycled paper or wood shavings is excellent at absorbing moisture and odor.

Can I use a regular deodorizer in my gerbil’s cage?

No, regular deodorizers may contain harmful chemicals that can be dangerous to gerbils. Make sure to use a pet-safe deodorizer.

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