Can I Give My Gerbils Toilet Paper? (Is it Safe?)

Gerbils are one of our favorite sociable pocket pets. So, of course, we want to keep them happy, especially after the hours of enjoyment they bring to us.  However, safety is crucial when trying to keep a happy gerbil. Can some common materials you may want to give to your gerbils be poisonous?

Can I give my gerbils toilet paper? You certainly can give your gerbils toilet paper. Shredding the paper into strips and leaving it around the cage is the best way to give toilet paper to your gerbil. If you tear it into strips, your gerbil will be able to carry it easier and not trip over it. We also recommend giving your gerbil the cardboard tube from the toilet paper.

In this article, we explain why you should maybe consider giving that cheap household item to your pocket pet. We will give you everything you need to know and even include some top tips on how to keep your gerbil happy.

How Safe Is It to Give My Gerbil Toilet Paper?

Toilet paper is completely safe for your gerbil. However, we wouldn’t recommend giving your gerbil scented toilet paper, just in case there are any chemicals or toxins that could cause your gerbil any harm. Gerbils also have an amazing sense of smell, so they may avoid the toilet paper if it smells strong, and it may cause them some stress.

Why Should I Give My Gerbils Toilet Paper?

Gerbils love to use toilet paper for their bedding. They love the soft texture and find it easy to mold into the perfect shape for nesting. Shredding the toilet paper into strips will allow your gerbil to use the toilet paper in its desired way and move around with it easier. 

Don’t Forget the Tube!

Make sure to give your gerbils their favorite part of a toilet roll. The cardboard tube from the middle of the toilet paper is the perfect toy! Not only do they find it fun to run in and out of, but they also love to chew on it. The cardboard tube is great for their teeth too! So when your toilet paper runs out, be sure to save the tubes for your gerbils, they will be very thankful for it.

What Other Household Items Can I Give to My Gerbils?

Toilet paper and the cardboard tubes aren’t the only everyday household items that are fun for your gerbil and safe to give them. Here are some items you may have around your house that your gerbil will be thankful for.

  • Cardboard egg boxes
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Corrugated card
  • Glass jars (to store food, sit in or use as a toilet)
  • Any natural wood items that don’t have any glue or paint on them
  • Paper or cardstock – without printing on it
  • Popsicle sticks (wood)
  • Unused coffee stirrers (wood)

It is important to avoid giving your gerbils bits of plastic, newspaper, or cardboard with print on it. The ink can make your gerbils sick. Do not give your gerbils certain woods (pine or cedar) or branches as some are poisonous to gerbils.

Can I Give My Gerbil Wood?


If you would like to give your gerbils branches and twigs, be sure to use safe ones from trees that won’t poison them. We do recommend it, as branches and twigs are rich in vitamins and great for your gerbils’ teeth. Here is a list of trees that have safe branches you can give to your gerbils;

  • Fruit trees
  • Hazel
  • Birch
  • Beech
  • Willow
  • Maple

It is important to give your gerbils something to chew on as they need to wear their teeth down. Gerbils’ teeth continually grow as their teeth don’t have roots. They need to keep their teeth worn down. 

Those teeth will continue to grow, and this can stop their ability to eat or drink and can even cause the bottom teeth to pierce through the top jaw. Therefore, any of the above household items are great to give to your gerbils as a chew toy!

Nesting Behavior of Gerbils

Gerbils like to burrow and make their bed deep in under ground-level, so it is important to have enough room for your gerbil to burrow. They usually need at least 5 inches of bedding to burrow into. Gerbils come from desert areas and are used to burrowing in the dry land. This is why it is important to allow your gerbil to burrow.

Bedding and Hiding Spots

It is important to try and use a combination of bedding to keep your gerbil happy. We recommend using shredded toilet paper, but here are some alternatives;

  • Hay
  • Organic soil (from a pet store, not your back yard, the soil in your back yard may contain microscopic parasites or bits of plants or wood that act as a poison to a gerbil)
  • Shredded paper
  • Cardboard shavings

Be sure to also give your gerbils a home to hide in, a plant pot cut in half is perfect for creating a dark hiding place for them. Be sure to check it is made of clay and not plastic. Any wood or plastic homes will be chewed through. You can find all sorts of gerbil homes online or in your local pet store.

More Facts About Your Gerbil’s Behavior

Want to get to know your gerbil a little better? Here we have compiled a list of a few favorite facts about your gerbils!

  • They are hoarders! These pocket pets will hoard more food than they need to. Whether it is because they worry about finding food, whether they’re stocking up for a rainy day or they just have a serious hoarding addiction, gerbils seriously stockpile their food!
  • They are great at gnawing. Gerbils need to gnaw daily to keep their ever-growing teeth short and sharp. Make sure your gerbils have plenty of chew toys to gnaw on, preferably wood.
  • They are professional tunnel makers. When in the wild, gerbils tend to spend most of their time in the underground network of tunnels that they form. They only tend to come out for food and water. The tunnels can go as deep as 1.7m and as wide as 8m!
  • Desert Rat? The gerbil is a rodent, but not a rat. However, the gerbil was originally known as the ‘desert rat’ before it was introduced to parts of Europe and North America. 
  • Bye-Bye Tail! If a gerbil is caught by a predator by its tail, it has the ability to shed its tail to escape! A gerbil’s tail is around the same size as its body!
  • They wash with what? Gerbils wash with sand! That’s right! Instead of bathing in water, gerbils bathe in the sand. They roll around in the sand, which brushes off any dirt and debris in their fur. This leaves them smooth and shiny. Be sure to leave your gerbil a tub with some sand in to keep them clean and happy!
  • Naturally Sweet. Gerbils have a very sweet nature. They tend to be calm and quiet yet very curious.
  • They Thump! When in immediate danger, gerbils may let out a squeak and begin to thump their foot on the floor, just like a rabbit. This is to warn the other gerbils of a threat.

How to Keep Your Gerbil Happy

Gerbils are sociable creatures. Therefore, they need to be in groups or pairs of the same sex. Gerbils who live alone tend to have short life spans and become overweight and unhealthy, whereas gerbils who live with other gerbils are healthier, happier, and live longer lives. This is our biggest tip for keeping your gerbil happy, don’t let it live alone!

Of course, the habitat you keep for your gerbils will affect how they live. Here is a checklist for the must-haves to keep your gerbils as happy as they can be!

Make Toys for Your Gerbils

Let’s get crafty! You don’t need to go out and spend a lot on gerbil toys. Make something they will love with the stuff you have at home!

Kleenex MazeYou can use an empty Kleenex and some cardboard to create a tissue box maze for your furry friends.
Simply cut the top part of the Kleenex box off, leaving just the bottom and four sides. Then stick the card into the box, on its side to create a maze!
Toilet Tube PlaygroundAnother fun toy for you to create is the toilet tube playground! 
Just stick the tubes together, end to end and cut holes in the side of some tubes to slot other tubes into. You’ll end up with a maze, slightly resembling the underground tunnels your gerbil would make in the wild.
Toilet Tube HouseYou can even create a house made from toilet tubes for your gerbil to sleep in. Although, they will more than likely gnaw their way through it before they get a chance to sleep!

Let your Gerbil Enjoy Toilet Paper – Roll and All!

Yes! You certainly can! Gerbils will love to use this soft, versatile material to use for their beds. Remember to shred it up into small strips or tiny pieces for it to benefit your gerbils. Remember to always give your gerbil the toilet tube too, as this is the part they really get excited over!



I love animals! I grew up with everything from dogs and cats to rabbits and guinea pigs. I enjoy learning about pets and to share what I learn with others.