Are Candles Bad For Gerbils? {Top 8 Candle Ingredients To Avoid}

Would you like to light candles in the same room as your gerbil? Will candles harm their sensitive respiratory systems? In this article, we’ll discover if candles are bad for gerbils.

Are Candles Bad For Gerbils? Synthetic chemicals and scents or the fumes caused by candles can affect the sensitive sense of smell and lungs of your gerbil. It’s best to light candles in other rooms away from your gerbil and in well-ventilated areas. 

Are Scented Candles Harmful To Gerbils?

There are many candles on the market ranging from the traditional, mass produced or natural types. Candles can contain:

  • synthetic fragrances
  • paraffin wax 
  • formaldehyde
  • lead
  • toluene
  • volatile organic compounds

You may choose candles with essential oils and natural scents, but your gerbil may still show signs of irritation and discomfort due to their heightened scent glands and sensitive lungs.

Can Scented Candles Harm Gerbils?

Scented candles are usually made of chemical compounds that are harmful for gerbils. Essential oils may also cause irritation.

If you notice your gerbil scratching its eyes, nose or body, please light out the candle or move it into another room.

You could also decide to move your gerbil instead if you feel the need to light a scented candle in the room in which it resides. The fume and smoke from these candles, regardless of scent could cause respiration issues.

Can I Light Candles In The Same Room As My Gerbil?

Lighting a candle near a gerbil is risky. Some gerbil owners attest that their natural candles purchased from reputable retailer who assure their customers on the safer quality of their products, may still be harmful.

It’s hard to agree with a sweeping statement that candles are fine for gerbils. We would lean on the safer side and ask that you take precautions such as:

  • Relocate you gerbil to a well-ventilated area. 
  • Open the windows.
  • Use soy, beeswax, or vegetable wax-based candles that are unscented.
  • Switch to using LED votives that mimic the flicker of candles. 

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Can Gerbils Be In a Room With Incense?

This is where we draw the line and clearly say no to burning incense near gerbils. Keep incense away from all pets if you care for their respiratory health. The smoke will greatly affect the small lungs of your gerbil.

Avoid keeping your gerbils near these products:

  • incense
  • plug-in air fresheners
  • aerosols
  • non-stick pans
  • gas burning stoves

Do Gerbils Mind Candles?

The sensitive scent glands of gerbils make the fumes or scents from candles quite harmful. If we can see it or smell it, then they are being overloaded by it. If we cannot, there is still a high likelihood that your gerbil is being affected by it.

A short time period with an unscented or naturally derived candle may not be toxic to a gerbil if the room is ventilated. It’s best to place your gerbil as far as possible from it.

  • Don’t leave a candle unattended
  • Avoid waxy candles made of petroleum or paraffin.
  • Choose unscented candles
  • Soy, beeswax or coconut based candles are safer
  • Do not burn candles for long periods of time. 

What Are The Risks Of Candles For Gerbils?

There are studies that are directed at the harmful effects of candles on pets. The results are not definitive enough to outlaw candles near domesticated animals altogether, but we should take precautions.

  • Petroleum based candles can make pets sick.
  • Phthalates founds in cheap candles disrupt endocrine and respiratory systems. 
  • About 30% of candles sold in the US may contain wire in their wicks containing lead. 
  • Natural candles such as soy, beeswax, bluecorn or coconut may not dispel odors. 

Consult a vet if you notice your gerbils reacting poorly to a candle lit nearby with the following symptoms:

  • difficulty breathing
  • lethargy
  • seizure
  • excessive scratching

What Should I Do When Lighting A Candle Near Gerbils?

If you are confident that the type of candle you are using is natural and safe around pets, then please take a few more safety measures to keep your gerbils safer.

  • Keep the candle a far away as possible.
  • Use non-flammable candle holders.
  • Put out the candle before it reaches its end.
  • Use low flame candles only. 
  • Choose unscented candles.
  • Purchase or make candles from a vegetable, soy, bluecorn, coconut or beeswax base. 
  • Swap out real candles for LED votive substitutes. 

Which Candle Ingredients Should I Avoid For A Gerbil?

Your gerbil will not enjoy the scent of a candle the way that you would. You may notice scratching or heavy breathing with your gerbil being obviously irritated. It’s best to avoid these ingredients in candles:

  1. Wick with a metal (lead) core
  2. Paraffin wax
  3. Acetaldehyde
  4. Formaldehyde
  5. Acrolein
  6. Benzene
  7. Toluene
  8. Artificial scents and colors

Lead can lead to a loss of coordination in your gerbil who inhales its toxic fumes. Paraffin wax is made of petroleum waste and should be found nowhere near your home.

Chemicals producing toxins in the air such as, acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, and acrolein may cause headaches for us and even more problems for our gerbils.

Benzene is a carcinogen. Toluene is dangerous to the central nervous system of humans and rodents alike.


The use of candles around gerbils is discouraged. It is still possible to create a ventilated spacious area away from your gerbil to light safer candles made of natural ingredients.

The wick should be also be unbleached cotton, paper or wood instead of lead. If there is a scent, it should be from a natural essential oil, though many of these scents could also be harmful to sensitive gerbils.

A gerbil’s sense of smell is much more sensitive than ours. Their lungs are also delicate. The ultimate option for aesthetics is to choose LED votives instead for the best overall safety and long-term health of your gerbil.


Thank you for visiting for information regarding gerbils and plenty of other pets that we greatly enjoy caring for. Please check out more articles that may interest you. See you next time!