Can You Use Children’s Play Sand for Gerbils?

  • MickAdmin
  • September 17, 2023

Gerbils are popular pets among children and adults alike. They are small, furry, and fun to watch. However, taking care of gerbils requires some knowledge and preparation.

One of the most critical aspects of gerbil care is providing them with a suitable substrate for burrowing and digging. This is where the question arises – can you use children’s play sand for gerbils?

Children’s play sand is a common substrate used in sandboxes and other play areas. It is inexpensive and widely available.

However, not all types of sand are suitable for gerbils. Some sand may contain harmful chemicals or particles that can harm the gerbil’s respiratory system.

Therefore, choosing the right type of sand for your gerbil’s habitat is essential.


Can You Use Children’s Play Sand for Gerbils?


When choosing the right type of sand for your gerbil’s cage, it’s essential to ensure it’s safe and appropriate for your pet.

Some people consider using children’s play sand, readily available at many stores. But is it a good choice for gerbils?

While children’s play sand may seem convenient and affordable, it’s important to note that it may not be the best choice for gerbils. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Safety: Children’s play sand may contain impurities or other materials that could harm gerbils if ingested. It’s important to carefully read the label and ensure the sand is free from harmful substances.
  • Texture: Gerbils require fine and soft sand, allowing them to dig and burrow safely. Children’s play sand may be too coarse or rough for gerbils, which could cause injuries or discomfort.
  • Hygiene: Gerbils are prone to respiratory issues, so keeping their environment clean and free from dust and other irritants is essential. Children’s play sand may create dust or other particles that could harm your gerbil’s health.

While children’s play sand may seem convenient, choosing sand designed for small animals like gerbils is best. These sands are typically formulated to be safe, soft, and hygienic, which can help ensure that your gerbil stays healthy and happy.


Benefits of Using Play Sand for Gerbils

Natural Digging Behavior


Gerbils are burrowing animals that love to dig and create tunnels. Playing sand in their habitat allows them to engage in their natural digging behavior, which is essential to their physical and mental well-being.

The sand provides a soft and easy-to-dig substrate that mimics their natural habitat in the wild.


Aeration of Bedding


Play sand helps to aerate the bedding in the gerbil’s habitat. This is important because it allows for proper air circulation, which helps to reduce the buildup of harmful bacteria and odors.

The sand also helps to absorb moisture, which can help to prevent the growth of harmful fungi and other microorganisms.


Grooming Benefits


Gerbils are fastidious groomers who often roll around in the sand to keep their fur clean and healthy.

The sand helps to remove excess oils and dirt from their fur, which can help to prevent skin irritations and other health issues.

Additionally, the sand provides a natural abrasive surface that can help to keep their nails trimmed and healthy.

In conclusion, using play sand in a gerbil’s habitat provides numerous benefits that can help to promote their physical and mental well-being.

By allowing them to engage in their natural digging behavior, providing proper air circulation, and promoting healthy grooming habits, play sand can be a valuable addition to any gerbil habitat.


Concerns About Using Play Sand for Gerbils

Dust Content


One of the main concerns about using children’s play sand for gerbils is the dust content. Play sand is not designed for use with animals and may contain a high amount of dust that can harm gerbils.

Inhaling dust can cause respiratory problems, such as coughing, sneezing, and wheezing. Gerbils are particularly sensitive to dust; exposure to excessive dust can lead to serious health issues, including pneumonia.


Potential Contaminants


Another concern about using play sand for gerbils is the potential for contaminants. Play sand is not regulated for animal use, and it may contain harmful substances, such as silica, asbestos, and heavy metals.

These substances can be harmful to gerbils if ingested or inhaled. In addition, play sand may contain bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms that can cause infections in gerbils.

To ensure the safety and well-being of gerbils, it is recommended to use sand specifically designed for small animals.

This type of sand is low in dust and free from contaminants, making it safe for gerbils to burrow and play in. It is also essential to clean the sand regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria and other harmful substances.

In conclusion, while play sand may seem like a cheap and easy option for gerbil bedding, it is not recommended due to its high dust content and potential for contaminants. Opting for specially designed small animal sand can provide a safer and healthier environment for gerbils to thrive in.


Alternatives to Children’s Play Sand


When it comes to choosing the right sand for your gerbil’s habitat, there are a few alternatives to children’s play sand that you can consider.

This section explores two popular options: Commercial Gerbil Sand and Sterilized Beach Sand.


Commercial Gerbil Sand


Commercial Gerbil Sand is specially formulated for small animals like gerbils. It is usually made from a combination of fine-grained sand and other materials like clay, calcium carbonate, and minerals. The sand is sterilized to ensure it is free from harmful bacteria and parasites.

One of the benefits of using Commercial Gerbil Sand is that it is dust-free, which can help prevent respiratory problems in gerbils. It is also easy to clean and doesn’t require frequent changing. Additionally, it is safe for gerbils to ingest if they accidentally ingest some while grooming themselves.


Sterilized Beach Sand


Another alternative to children’s play sand is Sterilized Beach Sand. This sand is collected from natural beaches and then sterilized to remove harmful bacteria and parasites. It is a great option for gerbil owners who prefer a more natural pet substrate.

One advantage of using Sterilized Beach Sand is that it is readily available and affordable. It also provides a more varied texture for gerbils to dig and burrow in, which can help keep them mentally stimulated.

However, it may require more frequent cleaning than Commercial Gerbil Sand, as it can contain small shells and debris.

In conclusion, there are several alternatives to children’s play sand that you can consider when choosing a substrate for your gerbil’s habitat.

Whether you opt for Commercial Gerbil Sand or Sterilized Beach Sand, choose a safe, dust-free substrate and easy to clean.


Understanding Gerbils’ Natural Habitat


Gerbils are small, burrowing rodents from arid regions of Africa and Asia. They are well adapted to living in hot, dry environments and have evolved to conserve water and avoid predators.

In the wild, gerbils live in complex burrow systems, digging themselves into the sand or soil.

Gerbils are social animals that live in groups, and their burrows can house several individuals.

These burrows are divided into different chambers, including a nesting chamber, a food storage chamber, and a toilet chamber.

The nesting chamber is lined with soft materials like grass, fur, or feathers, and it serves as a cozy place for gerbils to sleep and rest.

Gerbils are active animals that love to dig, climb, and explore their environment.

In the wild, they spend most of their time foraging for food: seeds, roots, and insects. They are also known for their ability to jump and run, which helps them escape from predators like snakes, birds of prey, and foxes.

When it comes to keeping gerbils as pets, providing them with an environment that mimics their natural habitat as closely as possible is essential.

This means giving them plenty of space to burrow and explore and providing them with a variety of toys, hides, and climbing structures.

Regarding substrate, gerbils prefer soft, sandy soil they can dig and burrow in. Children’s play sand can be a suitable substrate for gerbils if it is clean and free of harmful chemicals or additives.

It’s important to avoid using any dusty substrate or containing sharp particles that could injure your gerbil’s delicate feet.

Overall, understanding gerbils’ natural habitat is crucial for providing them a happy and healthy life in captivity.

By mimicking their wild environment as closely as possible, you can ensure that your gerbils can exhibit their natural behaviors and live fulfilling lives.


Children’s Play Sand: What Is It?


Children’s play sand is a type of sand that is commonly used in sandboxes and for children’s play areas. It is usually made from natural materials such as quartz or silica and is often marketed as safe for children to play with.

Children’s play sand is typically sold in large bags and can be found at most hardware, home improvement, and toy stores. It is often marketed as non-toxic and free from harmful chemicals, making it a popular choice for parents who want to create a safe play environment for their children.

However, while children’s play sand may be safe for children, it is not necessarily for pets like gerbils. This is because children’s play sand is not designed to meet the specific needs of small animals like gerbils.

In addition, children’s play sand may contain impurities or other materials that could harm gerbils if ingested. For this reason, it is recommended that pet owners use specially designed sand or bedding that has been formulated specifically for small animals like gerbils.

Overall, while children’s play sand may be a safe and fun option for children’s play areas, it is not recommended for bedding or substrate for small animals like gerbils.




In conclusion, while children’s play sand may seem like a cost-effective option for gerbil bedding, it is not recommended. Gerbils have specific requirements for their bedding, and play sand does not meet these requirements.

Firstly, play sand can be dusty, which can cause respiratory problems for gerbils. Additionally, it does not provide the necessary absorbency for urine and can lead to unpleasant odors and an unhygienic living environment.

Furthermore, children’s play sand may contain harmful chemicals or additives that can harm gerbils. Choosing a bedding material that is safe and non-toxic for your pets is essential.

While it may be tempting to use children’s play sand for gerbil bedding, it is not a suitable option. It is recommended to use a bedding material specifically designed for small animals, such as paper-based bedding or aspen shavings. These materials meet the requirements for gerbil bedding and provide a safe and comfortable environment for your pets.

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