Why Do Pet Gerbils Smell So Bad? {How To Reduce}

Gerbils are cute little pets, and almost everything about them is attractive and exciting.

However, one of the most significant concerns of many pet lover is if the pet will develop a bad smell after a while. So, are Gerbils like other pets that smell?

Find out below

Why Do Pet Gerbils Smell So Bad?

Gerbils do not give off a bad smell. Gerbils produce urine and feces, and they use scents from their stomach to mark their territory. Yet, all this does not cause a bad smell.

Therefore, if you notice any foul smell on your Gerbils’ body, you should consider visiting a vet. Likewise, if you find Gerbils’ environment or cage smelly, then you might have to do a quick clean up.

The foul smell in Gerbils’ cage or interior is mostly due to the accumulation of dirt and bacteria actions. Therefore, the bad smell comes from the pen and not the animal itself.

Only certain diseases can cause Gerbils to smell, and you have to get them treated as soon as you notice.

Are Gerbils Odorless?

Gerbils are not entirely odorless, but they are one of the least smelly rodents. They only give off a characteristic smell when all conditions are right with them.

However, this smell is not unbearable or damaging.

There are a lot of reasons for the near odorless nature of Gerbils. First off, Gerbils expertly absorb everything they eat and drink. Therefore, they require less water than most animals.

Consequently, they don’t produce too much urine to cause a high unpleasant smell because less urine means lesser odor.

Similarly, unlike other animals that mark their territories with urine, Gerbils only mark their territory with the scent produced from their stomach. This feature is another way Gerbils keep their urine production level low.

Also, the smell of feces is another source of bad smell for most animals. Luckily for Gerbils, their feces are hard and small; hence, they don’t smell much. 

Gerbils only have faint smelling fur, and this eliminates another potential source of bad smell.

Do gerbils smell worse at night? Allow me to explain why this is so. 

How To Stop Gerbils Smelling So Bad?

Stopping Gerbils from smelling so bad is not difficult since they ordinarily don’t smell too bad. You should ensure the regular cleaning of their fur and interiors.

Similarly, it would be best if you treated them as soon as they get sick.

Once you understand the primary reasons why your Gerbils can develop a strong odor, then it becomes easy to prevent them from smelling bad. 

Gerbils smell when there is an accumulation of waste and dirt in their interior. You can also find them smelling when they are sick, stressed, or scared.

To stop Gerbils from smelling bad, you should start with the regular cleaning of their cage. You can provide them with plenty of bedding to help them absorb their wastes.

These beddings will also reduce the rate of bacteria buildup.

Ensure proper ventilation in the interiors of Gerbils. If you keep them in a cage, ensure that anywhere you place the pen is well ventilated. If you keep them in an open space like a room, make sure the area is well ventilated.

Also, you should ensure that you only provide your Gerbils with a healthy diet. Drastic change or a low diet can also cause your Gerbils to smell bad.

Finally, protect your Gerbils from getting sick or stressed. Illnesses or intolerable stress levels can cause Gerbils to give off a strong-smelling odor.

I’ll explain my secret to why my gerbils doesn’t smell bad anymore in this article I wrote. 

Does Gerbils Scent Marking Smell?

Gerbils’ scent marking is produced from their stomach to mark their territories. As much as the scent marking works well for them, it does not give off a bad smell.

The essence of Gerbils’ scent marking is to warn other Gerbils to keep off their zone. This action is one of the regular territorial habits of animals, particularly mammals.

However, unlike other animals like lions that use urine to mark their territory, Gerbils use scent markings produced from their stomach. This scent marking does not smell as bad as urine does.

As long as other cage conditions are right with your Gerbils, you don’t expect them to smell because of their scent markings. Therefore, if you find your Gerbils smelling, their scent marking is one of the last suspects to check out.

How Often Should I Clean My Gerbils?

Regular cleaning is one of the ways to keep your Gerbils healthy and prevent them from smelling. It would help if you cleaned your Gerbils cage and their beddings at least once a week.

Sand bathing your Gerbils and cleaning their furs can be done once in two weeks.

Nevertheless, you can spot clean the cage every day. Similarly, it would help if you got rid of uneaten or leftover food every day to avoid organic waste buildup.

Changing of beddings and regular cage cleaning for Gerbils should be at least once a week.

However, thorough cage cleaning that would require you to move your Gerbils out can be less frequent. Doing this type of cleaning once a month is enough to maintain their cleanliness.

Gerbils only need sand baths, not water baths. Sand baths will keep their fur clean, smell-free, and healthy. Likewise, healthy sunbathes will reduce the risk of facial dermatitis.

Can I Bathe My Gerbil?

Yes, you can bathe your Gerbil. However, it is essential to note that Gerbils don’t require water baths. Instead, they use sand baths, also known as dust baths.

Gerbils typically enjoy rolling around in a small container of sand. This activity naturally helps them scrub their furs, get rid of dirt, and soak off excessive oil. It also helps them to clean and scratch their skin as well.

You can make this bath easier for your Gerbils by setting up containers filled with suitable sands. Not all sands are good for Gerbils’ bath. Low sand quality might even cause more harm than good.

So, you either purchase already prepared sand from reputable stores or sterilize the sands.

You should also clean the bowl or container that will hold or contain the sand. Also, filter the sand and ensure that you have removed all dirt and sharp objects that can injure your Gerbil.

Water baths are not ideal for Gerbils unless it becomes indispensable. Even in these extreme cases, it is best to spot clean the Gerbil rather than giving it a complete bath.

Water baths can wash off-key molecules from the skin of Gerbils. Removing these vital molecules can cause severe skin problems for them.

You should only use water baths to spot clean your Gerbils if you have a harmful substance or chemicals stuck to their fur or skin.

Is my Gerbils Smelly Or The Cage?

Gerbils themselves are almost entirely odorless. You will only find them smelling in extreme cases or when something is wrong. So, if there is a strong offensive odor, there is a high probability that it is from your cage, not Gerbils.

Gerbils only smell when they are ill, scared, or stressed. These smells will cease once you make the necessary moves to get rid of the cause of their odor.

Also, smells from Gerbils themselves are not as strong as those that can come from the cage.

A lot of factors can cause a Gerbil cage to become smelly. Accumulation of feces and urine in Gerbils’ cage is one of the major causes of their cage odor.

Likewise, the accumulation of leftover food can instigate the action of certain bacteria. These bacteria will break down the food substances; hence, causing them to give off a foul odor.

How To Clean My Gerbil Cage

There are many ways you can clean your Gerbils’ cage. The most common method is evacuating the Gerbils and keeping them in a safe place. Then, use water disinfectants and other necessary materials to clean every part of the cage.

Ensure that you rinse off all chemicals that can cause harm to Gerbils and leave it dry. Only return your Gerbils to the cage when it is safe to do so.

When you want to keep your Gerbils in a safe place, you can consider keeping them in their playpens or exercise balls. Sometimes, it might be a good time to let them have suitable sand baths to keep their fur clean.

You can wash the bottom and all corners of the cage with hot soapy water. Wash other elements of their cage as well, including toys, food bowls, and water bowls.

You should also leave these cage accessories to dry before returning the Gerbils into their cage.

When the cage and its accessories are dry, you can spray it with safe animal disinfectants. Leave it to work before wiping it off for a dry surface. Consider covering the entire bottom of Gerbils’ cage with sawdust to provide a soft bed.

Once you are through with the bottom of the cage, you can then spread the beddings on top. The beddings will help them to absorb wastes and dirt. Now, return your Gerbils to their abode when you are through with the cleaning exercise.

Why Do Gerbils Smell Of Urine?

Gerbils can smell of urine when it sticks to their fur or coats. Gerbils might have no choice but to have body contact with their urine. Consequently, it might stay on their skin, hair, or coat.

Urine is one of the main reasons Gerbils might small bad. The foul smell of urine is because it contains urea.

The actions of various bacteria on urea will break it down to ammonia. Ammonia is known for its characteristic foul smell that stinks.

This similar chain of action will also happen if the urine stays on the fur or skin of Gerbils. Hence, they can give off the characteristic urine smell.

Do Gerbils Poop Smell?

Ordinarily, Gerbils poop doesn’t smell because it is hard small and challenging. The only time you might find Gerbils’ poop giving off an uncharacteristic smell is when you change their diet.

If you have been keeping Gerbils for a while, then you can quickly tell the smell of their poop. The scent is hardly noticeable because of the solid, dry, and small nature of the poop.

Aside from a drastic change in diet, excessive poop smell can also result from medical conditions. If the condition persists, you should consider visiting your vet for proper care and attention.

Can You Spray A Gerbil Cage With Air Freshener?

No! Spraying Gerbils’ cage with an air freshener is a bad idea. It will only put the health of your pet in danger.

Some pet owners spray their Gerbils’ cage out of desperation to make it smell nice. However, the chemical constituents of air freshener can be damaging to Gerbils’ health if when inhaled.

Therefore, it is best to keep air fresheners away from them.

However, you can still spray the air freshener in spaces around the cage to prevent any odor coming out of their cage from traveling. But you should avoid spraying it directly in the pet’s enclosure.

Gerbil Scent Marking

Scent marking is one of the characteristics behaviors of male Gerbils. The essence of scent marking is to create territories for themselves.

Male Gerbils usually scent-mark their territory by rubbing their bellies on objects around the area.  They have scent marks in their stomach that leaves off a characteristic smell on these objects to indicate territoriality and possession.

In summary, Gerbil’s scent marking is a simple act of territoriality.

Do Gerbils Smell More than Hamsters

On the contrary, Gerbils smell far less than hamsters. Hamsters strongly smell like a rodent; hence, they have a stronger rodent and general smell than Gerbils.

Also, it is almost impossible to keep the Hamster cage’s beddings, but it is relatively easy with Gerbils.

However, both Gerbils and Hamsters require proper care and regular cleaning to mitigate their probability of giving off offensive smells. Likewise, proper diet and healthy feeding will also reduce the extent of their scent.


Gerbils are cute little pets that smell far less than most other rodents.

It is easy to prevent them from smelling by regularly cleaning their cage, sand-bathing them, maintaining a healthy diet, and using beddings to absorb dirt and waste.


My name is Anna and I work full time in my local pet shop where we sell many animals that I write about on this site. I love all animals and love writing about them.