Why Do Gerbils Eat Sand? The Surprising Truth Revealed!

Gerbils are small, furry animals that belong to the rodent family. They are native to the deserts of Mongolia, China, and parts of Africa. In the wild, gerbils are social creatures that live in large colonies and burrows. They are fast runners and can jump up to 12 inches in the air. Gerbils are also known for their long tails, which they use to balance themselves while running and jumping.

Gerbils are popular pets for several reasons. Firstly, they are low maintenance and easy to care for. They require little attention and can be left alone for long periods, making them ideal for people who work long hours or travel frequently. Secondly, gerbils are clean animals that do not have a strong odor. They groom themselves regularly, and their fur is soft and pleasant to touch. Finally, gerbils are social animals that enjoy the company of other gerbils. They thrive in pairs or groups and are happiest when they have a companion to play with.

The Importance of Sand in Gerbil’s Diet

Natural Habitat of Gerbils

To understand why gerbils eat sand, we need to look at their natural habitat. Gerbils are desert animals that live in hot, dry, and sandy environments. They burrow deep into the sand to escape the heat and keep themselves cool. They also use the sand to create tunnels and chambers for nesting and storage. In the wild, gerbils are exposed to a lot of sand, and they have adapted to this environment over time.

Benefits of Sand for Gerbils

Sand plays a crucial role in a gerbil’s diet. In the wild, gerbils eat a variety of foods, including seeds, grains, and insects. However, they also ingest sand as they forage for food. Sand is an essential part of a gerbil’s diet because it helps to maintain their digestive system. Sand acts as a natural abrasive that helps to grind down food in the stomach, making it easier to digest. It also helps to prevent constipation and other digestive problems.

In addition to its digestive benefits, sand also provides gerbils with a variety of other benefits. Sand helps to keep their fur clean and healthy by absorbing excess oils and moisture. It also provides an excellent medium for gerbils to engage in natural behaviors, such as digging and burrowing. Sand also helps to maintain good dental health by providing gerbils with the necessary grit to keep their teeth trimmed.

The Nutritional Value of Sand for Gerbils

The Role of Grit in Gerbil’s Digestive System

Grit is an essential component of a gerbil’s diet. Grit is a term used to describe small, hard particles that gerbils ingest to aid in digestion. Grit is found in sand, gravel, and other small particles found in the gerbil’s natural environment. Grit plays an essential role in the gerbil’s digestive system because it helps to break down food in the stomach. Without grit, gerbils would not be able to digest their food properly, leading to digestive problems and malnutrition.

Relevance of Micro and Macro Minerals in Gerbil’s Diet

In addition to grit, sand also contains micro and macro minerals that are essential for a gerbil’s health. Micro minerals include iron, zinc, copper, and manganese, while macro minerals include calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. These minerals play a crucial role in a gerbil’s overall health and wellbeing. They help to maintain healthy bones, teeth, and muscles, and support the immune system.

Common Misconceptions about Gerbils and Sand

Sand as a Replacement for Food

One of the most common misconceptions about gerbils and sand is that sand can replace food. Sand is not a food source and should never be used as a substitute for food. While gerbils do ingest sand, it is only a small part of their diet, and they still require a balanced diet of seeds, grains, and vegetables to remain healthy.

Sand as a Cause of Illness or Death

Another common misconception about gerbils and sand is that sand can cause illness or death. While it is true that ingesting inappropriate types of sand can cause health problems, such as blockages or impaction, this is only a risk if the sand is dusty or contaminated. As long as the sand is clean and free from contaminants, it is safe for gerbils to ingest.

Types of Sand for Gerbils

Safe and Unsafe Types of Sand

Not all types of sand are safe for gerbils to ingest. It is important to choose the right type of sand to ensure that your gerbil remains healthy. The best type of sand for gerbils is chinchilla sand. Chinchilla sand is dust-free, sterilized, and specially designed for small animals like gerbils. It is also free from contaminants and safe for gerbils to ingest. Other types of sand, such as construction sand or play sand, are not suitable for gerbils and can cause health problems.

Pros and Cons of Different Types of Sand

Chinchilla sand is the most recommended type of sand for gerbils. However, there are other types of sand available, each with their pros and cons. Play sand is an affordable alternative to chinchilla sand, but it can be dusty and may contain contaminants. Aquarium sand is also an option, but it can be expensive and may contain sharp particles that could harm your gerbil.

Feeding and Maintaining Sand for Gerbils

How Much Sand to Give Gerbils?

When it comes to feeding sand to gerbils, it is essential to get the right balance. Too much sand can lead to health problems, while too little can be ineffective. The general rule of thumb is to offer a small dish of sand to your gerbil every other day. The dish should be shallow and wide enough for your gerbil to roll around in comfortably.

How to Offer Sand to Gerbils?

When offering sand to gerbils, it is important to provide a clean, dry dish. The dish should be shallow enough for your gerbil to jump in and out of easily. You can also sprinkle a small amount of sand onto the bottom of your gerbil’s cage to encourage natural burrowing behaviors.

How to Clean Gerbil’s Sand Bath?

It is important to clean your gerbil’s sand bath regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria and other contaminants. You should remove any soiled sand from the dish and wash it with warm, soapy water. Rinse the dish thoroughly and allow it to dry completely before adding fresh sand.


In conclusion, gerbils eat sand because it is an essential part of their diet. Sand helps to maintain their digestive system, dental health, and overall wellbeing. It also provides them with a variety of natural benefits, such as burrowing and digging. While there are some misconceptions about gerbils and sand, as long as the sand is clean and free from contaminants, it is safe for gerbils to ingest. When choosing sand for your gerbil, it is important to choose the right type of sand and to feed it in moderation. With proper care and attention, your gerbil will thrive and live a healthy, happy life.

ThePetFaq Team