Can You Use Play Sand For Gerbils? {Which Types Should I Avoid?}

Would you like to use play sand for your gerbil’s bath? Which types of sand should you avoid? In this article, we’ll address the topic of using play sand for gerbils.

Can You Use Play Sand For Gerbils? Yes. Please make sure the play sand is free of dyes and silica. Sterilize the sand by drying and baking it first. Let it cool and place it in a bowl or container for your gerbil to independently bathe itself. 

Is Play Sand OK For Gerbils?

Play sand is sterilized and safe to use for children and even your gerbil. Play sand should be free of dyes or dust. Aragonite sand that is silica free is usually listed on the package containing play sand.

Keep play sand dry. It should not be damp and can be baked to ensure the best overall quality sand bath for your gerbil to enjoy while removing excess oils off its body. Play sand is a cheap and effective option.

How Do I Give My Gerbils A Sand Bath?

Gerbils prefer sand baths rather than potentially causing them to get too cold under a water bath. Sand is plentiful in most natural habitats for gerbils and they have grown accustomed to its cleaning properties.

Here are some steps to help you give your gerbil a sand bath:

  • Fill a bowl with sand to about 1 inch high. 
  • Place the bowl in your gerbil’s cage. 
  • Remove the sand bath after 20 minutes. 
  • Clean the bowl and sifting or toss out the used sand. 
  • Allow your gerbil to perform the bath on its own. 

We do not need to assist our gerbils during their sand bath. They will figure it out. You have the option of permanently keeping the sand bath in the cage, but it may get dirty quickly and will need replacing.

What Sand Can You Use For A Sand Bath?

Gerbils and hamsters would love a sand bath to clean and remove excess oils off their bodies. Chinchilla dust is popular for hamsters, but gerbils have more respiration difficulties with its fine dusty quality.

The following types of sand are best for your gerbil’s sand bath:

  • aragonite or play sand (dye and silica free)
  • quartz
  • calcium carbonate
  • sepiolite
  • volcanic pumice

Avoid the following:

  • builder’s sand
  • beach sand
  • kinetic sand

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How Do You Sterilize Sand For Gerbils?

Sand baths for gerbils are an important part of keeping them clean. Some packages of sand are damp and need to be drained with a towel first.

  • Place the sand on a baking sheet. 
  • Bake the sand at 180°F for 30 minutes. 
  • Sift the sand after your gerbil uses it.
  • Sterilize again and reuse the sand (optional. 

How Often Do You Change Gerbil Sand?

It is up to you to decide if you wish to keep the sand in the cage or remove it after one use. A weekly sand bath is commonly recommended for your gerbil to remain clean.

Sifting the sand helps to make sure there aren’t any droppings or unwanted leftover debris in there. You can sterilize the sand every 1-2 weeks and continue to use it for up to 6 weeks.

Why Is Play Sand Better Than Water Baths?

Water baths for gerbils are harmful. They can remove necessary molecules off the fur that your gerbil needs for a healthy coat. Your gerbil’s body temperature will not be able to regulate itself under water.

The molecules on its fur also helps to keep your gerbil comfortable. Water baths are for emergencies only and spot cleaning with water is better than trying to place your gerbil in a pool of water.

Sand allows gerbils to twist, turn, roll around and playfully remove debris or excess oils much like in their natural habitats.

What Is The Best Sand For Gerbils?

Gerbils are sensitive to the type of sand we give them for their baths. Beach sand for example, contains debris, dirt, waste or unknown compounds that may cause skin issues on your gerbil. Builder’s sand has additives and is coarser.

Chinchilla sand is used by many gerbil keepers, but those containing fine dust can cause breathing issues when ingested or inhaled. Reptile sand is fine and white, but should not be too dusty or powdered or the same respiratory problems could result.

Children’s play sand that is free of silica and dyes, but contains aragonite is a great choice when choosing sand for your gerbil’s bath.

What is Bathing Sand?

Alternatively, you can approach retailers directly at shops or online to purchase bathing sand intended for our pets.

Hamsters, gerbils and guinea pigs can enjoy natural and sterilized sand that contains no harmful additives. The bathing sand is free of dust and other unwanted bacteria.

This sand is usually dry and requires no drying or baking which is commonly recommended with children’s play sand before we place it in bowls for our gerbils.


Please make sure that any packaging for sand does not contain dust. Chinchilla sand and chinchilla dust are two separate products. Choose the sand option for the most popular sand available for sand baths.

A gerbil could definitely take a sand bath in children’s play sand. Some preparation is required to make sure the sand is dry and sterilized.

Your gerbil can enjoy it once a week or you can keep the play sand in a bowl permanently in its gerbilarium if you wish. Sifting and re-sterilizing is recommended if you wish to reuse the play sand for the next few weeks.


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!