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Allergies in People

Libby Hanna

and Cathy Bickel

The most common symptom of an allergy in gerbils is a red nose. This section pertains to human allergies.

Anecdotally, gerbils seem to be among the least allergenic pets. In part this is probably because of their housing: a glass aquarium closed on all sides but the top. Generally, people who experience respiratory-type allergies when new gerbils arrive are allergic to the type of bedding or nesting material being used, to the dust created by the bedding, or to some element in the food. If a family member has a history of allergies, we recommend buying small quantities of everything until you find a combination of products that works for you.


Other important anti-allergy measures are:

  1. Vacuum often to eliminate dust. Gerbils create a good deal of dust from their chewed-up nesting material. Certain beddings like Carefresh are especially dusty.
  2. Change their bedding more frequently. This will help eliminate bedding that has created dust.
  3. Consider the area of the home where the tanks are being cleaned. As the used bedding is poured out, dust particles will travel into the air. It may be helpful to clean the tanks in a garage or even outside.
  4. Choose a peanut-free food if family members have peanut allergies. Read labels carefully as ingredients change over time.
  5. Keep gerbils away from drafty windows, fans, air return vents and other devices which spread dust all over.


People with allergy concerns are advised to borrow a friends' gerbils for a couple of weeks before committing to adoption.


Showcase of various custom cages built for gerbils.

Be sure the size and type of cage is manageable and one you can keep clean. It's not all about size. Gerbils need stimulation and ideally time to explore out of the cage: gerbils love to run, climb, dig, nest, take dust baths, tunnel and chew.

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