Do Gerbils Stink? Understanding Gerbil Odor and How to Manage It


Gerbils are popular pets known for their playful and active nature. However, some potential pet owners may be hesitant to bring a gerbil home due to concerns about odor. The question of whether gerbils stink is a common one, and the answer is not always straightforward.

While all animals have some natural odor, gerbils are generally considered to be relatively odorless pets. They do not have scent glands like some other small animals, such as hamsters, and they are fastidious groomers. However, there are some factors that can contribute to a gerbil’s smell, such as poor diet, dirty bedding, or an unclean living environment. In this article, we will explore the topic of whether gerbils stink and provide tips for keeping your gerbil’s living space clean and odor-free.

Do Gerbils Stink

Gerbils are generally considered to be clean and odorless pets. However, like any animal, they can produce a certain amount of waste and body odor.

The scent of gerbils is usually not very strong, and many owners report that they do not notice any odor at all. However, some gerbils may have a stronger smell than others, depending on factors such as their diet, age, and health.

One way to reduce any potential odor is to clean the gerbil’s cage regularly. This includes removing any soiled bedding or litter, wiping down surfaces, and providing fresh food and water. It is also important to choose a suitable type of bedding, as some materials can hold onto odors more than others.

In addition, proper hygiene can help reduce any unpleasant smells. This includes washing your hands before and after handling your gerbil, and avoiding using scented products around their cage.

Overall, while gerbils may produce some odor, it is usually not a significant issue if proper care and hygiene practices are followed.

Natural Odor of Gerbils

Gerbils are known for their unique smell, which is often described as musky or earthy. This natural odor is produced by the gerbil’s scent glands, which are located on their stomachs and near their genital areas.

It is important to note that this odor is not necessarily unpleasant, and many gerbil owners find it to be a comforting scent. However, it can become overpowering if the gerbil’s cage is not cleaned regularly.

One way to minimize the natural odor of gerbils is to provide them with a clean and well-ventilated living space. This can be achieved by regularly cleaning the cage and providing fresh bedding. It is also important to avoid using harsh chemicals or cleaning products, as these can irritate the gerbil’s sensitive respiratory system and make the odor worse.

Another way to reduce the odor is to feed the gerbils a healthy and balanced diet. A diet that is high in protein and low in fat can help to reduce the amount of waste that the gerbils produce, which in turn can reduce the odor.

Overall, while gerbils do have a natural odor, it is not necessarily unpleasant and can be managed with proper care and maintenance of their living space.

Factors Contributing to Gerbil Odor

Gerbils are known for their strong and distinct odor. This smell can be unpleasant, especially for those who are sensitive to it. There are several factors that contribute to gerbil odor, including diet, hygiene, and health conditions.


Gerbils are herbivores and require a diet that is high in fiber. If their diet is not balanced, it can lead to digestive problems, which can cause odor. Additionally, certain foods can cause stronger smells than others. For example, feeding your gerbil too many fruits or vegetables can cause a sweet smell in their urine, while a diet high in protein can cause a more pungent odor.


Gerbils are clean animals and spend a significant amount of time grooming themselves. However, if their living environment is not kept clean, it can contribute to odor. Gerbil cages should be cleaned regularly, including the bedding and any toys or accessories. Additionally, gerbils should be given a dust bath to help keep their fur clean and free of oils.

Health Conditions

Certain health conditions can also contribute to gerbil odor. For example, if a gerbil has dental problems, it can cause bad breath and a foul odor. Gerbils can also develop respiratory infections, which can cause a strong odor in their urine and feces. If you notice a sudden change in your gerbil’s odor, it may be a sign of an underlying health problem and should be addressed by a veterinarian.

In conclusion, there are several factors that contribute to gerbil odor, including diet, hygiene, and health conditions. By providing a balanced diet, maintaining a clean living environment, and addressing any health problems, you can help reduce the odor associated with gerbils.

How to Minimize Gerbil Odor

Gerbils are known for their odor, but there are ways to minimize it. By taking proper care of your gerbil’s cage, diet, and health, you can reduce the amount of odor they produce.

Proper Cage Cleaning

One of the most important things you can do to minimize gerbil odor is to keep their cage clean. This means cleaning their bedding and changing their litter regularly. You should also wipe down the cage with a pet-safe disinfectant at least once a week.

To make cleaning easier, consider using a cage with a removable tray or bottom. This will allow you to clean the cage more thoroughly and quickly.

Balanced Diet

Another way to minimize gerbil odor is to make sure your gerbil is eating a balanced diet. A diet that is high in protein can lead to stronger-smelling urine and feces. Make sure your gerbil is getting a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits.

Avoid feeding your gerbil sugary or fatty foods, as these can also contribute to odor. Stick to high-quality gerbil food that is specifically formulated for their nutritional needs.

Regular Vet Check-Ups

Finally, regular vet check-ups can help minimize gerbil odor. A vet can check your gerbil’s overall health and make sure they are not suffering from any underlying health issues that could be contributing to odor.

During a check-up, a vet can also give you tips on how to keep your gerbil’s cage clean and odor-free. They may recommend specific cleaning products or bedding materials that can help reduce odor.

By following these tips, you can minimize gerbil odor and enjoy a cleaner, healthier home for both you and your pet.

Common Misconceptions About Gerbil Odor

Despite popular belief, gerbils are not inherently smelly animals. In fact, they are quite clean and odorless if kept in a clean environment and provided with proper care.

One common misconception is that gerbils have a strong, unpleasant odor. This is often due to improper care, such as infrequent cage cleaning or inadequate ventilation. Gerbils are desert animals and do not produce a lot of waste or urine. If their cage is cleaned regularly, their odor should not be noticeable.

Another misconception is that gerbils have a musky scent. While it is true that gerbils have scent glands, they only produce a small amount of odor that is used for communication and marking their territory. This scent is not unpleasant and is not noticeable unless one is in close proximity to the gerbil.

Lastly, some people believe that gerbils have a distinct smell that is difficult to get rid of. This is not true if the gerbil’s cage is cleaned regularly and the bedding is changed frequently. In fact, gerbils can be kept in a bedroom without any noticeable odor if proper care is taken.

Overall, gerbils do not stink if they are given proper care and their living environment is kept clean. It is important to dispel these misconceptions to encourage responsible pet ownership and to help people understand the true nature of these lovable creatures.


In conclusion, gerbils do have a distinct odor, but it is not necessarily unpleasant. The strength of the odor can vary depending on factors such as diet, cleanliness, and the number of gerbils in the enclosure. However, with proper care and maintenance, the smell can be kept to a minimum.

It is important to note that some people may be more sensitive to the smell than others. Additionally, if the smell is particularly strong or unpleasant, it may be a sign of an underlying health issue or inadequate living conditions for the gerbils.

Overall, gerbils can make great pets for those who are willing to put in the effort to keep their enclosure clean and provide them with a healthy diet. While they do have a distinct odor, it is not overwhelming and should not deter potential owners from considering gerbils as pets.

Read Next: The 10 Best Gerbil Toys for Your Furry Friend

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