Can Gerbils Swim [Do They Enjoy It?]

Can Gerbils Swim

Gerbils have an innate ability to swim. However, they do not enjoy swimming as it’s a stressful experience for them. It’s not healthy for their body as getting wet can make them sick.

Gerbils mostly swim to escape from predators or in captivity.

They have natural oil in their coat, and forcing them to stay in the water or keeping them wet will remove the natural oil from their fur, which is essential to keep them warm and coat shiny. 

There are more risks involved in swimming which we will discuss in this article.

Read to know more.

Can Gerbils Swim?

Yes, gerbils can swim if they get the chance to. However, since gerbils are dry region animals, they hardly encounter a large body of water to perform swimming, so their body has adapted to skip water as much as possible.

Due to this, whenever gerbils fall into the water, they struggle to get out of it as a survival act; this makes swimming a tiresome experience for them.

This means never forcing them to swim, even in the bathtub; it’s not good for their health and if left unnoticed, they can get drawn.

In fact, you shouldn’t even bathe your gerbils with water; it can make them sick.

Do Gerbils Like to Swim

Not really.

Gerbils do not like to swim or get wet for various reasons. Originally, gerbils were deserted regional animals and did not often get exposed to water, so they naturally don’t like water. 

Also, swimming is a struggling experience for gerbils; they do swim if they fall into the water to reach the shore. But you may find your gerbil anxious and other signs of distress.

So, in general, gerbils do not enjoy swimming or getting wet.

Moreover, getting wet is not good for their health as well. It can be very dangerous for gerbils. A sudden fall or jump into the water can bring a lot of stress to your gerbils, and they may even get panicked. This will cause your gerbils to suffer from various problems like mental and physical stress. 

Why Is Swimming Not Good For Gerbils

Gerbils are desert rats and are naturally accustomed to dry and hot regions. In the wild, gerbils hardly encounter a large body of water to swim, and because of this, they have not adapted to swimming or getting wet.

However, gerbils have an inherent ability to swim; they just don’t prefer getting into the water as it’s stressful for them. They only swim to escape from predators.

Reasons why swimming is not good for gerbils:

Stressful Activity

Gerbils can swim, but they do not often get a chance to swim due to a dry climate environment. Due to this, they have adapted to living on land and avoiding water. However, gerbils may swim to escape danger or if they fall into the water by chance.

But swimming or getting into the water is a stressful activity for them. A sudden fall into water can lead to fear or anxiety. 


Since gerbils are dry climate animals, they are not habituated to getting into the water, which can make them sick. Especially if the water is cold, gerbils can quickly develop pneumonia. 

Gerbils have a fur coat in their body which helps them warm up in the winter, but if they get wet, they drastically lose body heat and may suffer from hypothermia.

Take Away Natural Oils

Gerbil have oil in their fur, which helps them stay warm and keep their coat shining; however, water removes the natural oil from their fur. This makes it difficult for gerbils to warm up their body. 

This may also cause their coat to look thin and dull.

Risk of Drowning

Gerbils have the ability to swim. However, swimming is a stressful activity for them. The risk of drowning significantly increases as gerbils have tiny legs which don’t allow them to swim well. Moreover, the natural adaptability of living in a dry climate also makes them unable to swim for longer.

They can even drown in swimming pools or bathtubs as they are tiny animals. So, do not force your gerbil to swim as you see on the internet. It can be life-threatening.

If your gerbil falls into the water accidentally, immediately pick them out as they cannot swim longer and may sink.

Can Gerbils Get Wet?

Gerbils hate getting wet!

Gerbils do not swim or get wet in the wild unless they fall into the water. 

It could happen if they are chased by a predator and a river, puddle, or something like that came into their way. In this case, the gerbil will jump into the water to save their life. However, they immediately dry themselves.

Being in water or getting wet is a very uncomfortable condition for gerbils. Their fur gets tangled and messy. Also, if the water is cold or your gerbil is wet for a longer period. It can lead to pneumonia which could be fatal.

Gerbils have natural oil in their coat, and forcing them to stay in the water or keeping them wet will remove the natural oil from their fur, which is essential to keep them warm and coat shiny. 

If you have gerbils and for some reason it becomes wet, you should immediately take a towel and pat them dry. You can also wrap them in a towel to warm them up. Also, a hair dryer (in a cool setting) can be used to dry off your gerbil.

What to Do When Your Gerbil Gets Wet?

By far, you should get an idea why getting wet is not good for gerbils; however, there are instances when gerbils get wet. For example, they’ll get wet if your gerbil falls into the water. Or, if they have flipped their water bowl, they’ll get wet.

Also, sometimes the water gets split on them, and they eventually get wet. However, in these circumstances, you should be careful.

Here are some steps you should immediately take if your gerbil gets wet.

  • Take your gerbil out of the water as soon as possible.
  • Try to dry your gerbil; you can use a towel and pat it until they are completely dry before wrapping them into it.
  • You can also use a hair dryer in a cold setting to dry out their fur.
  • Place them in their cage, and make sure it’s warm.
  • If you notice any sickness like cold, sneezing or diarrhea, immediately contact a vet.

Getting wet can be dangerous for gerbils; it can be life-threatening if proper action is not taken within time.

Can You Bathe Your Gerbils?

Yes, you can bathe your gerbils but not with water. Now, this might sound weird, bathe but without water? Since gerbils are dry climate animals, they do not bathe the traditional way. They have another way to clean them out.

Can You Bathe Your Gerbils

However, most of the time, gerbils clean themselves very efficiently, except in some situations where they have fallen into mud and or something like that and cannot clean it. In this case, you should help out your gerbils.

You should not bathe your gerbils; instead, there are other cleaning methods. 

A sand bath is a convenient and risk-free way of cleaning your gerbil. For this, you will need a box or container filled with sand and let your gerbil roll around in it. The sand rubs against your gerbil’s fur, removes all dirt and debris and keeps them shiny.

This is the most natural and safest way of cleaning your gerbils. 

Allowing your gerbils a sand bath once a week is healthy; it helps their coat clean and keeps them shiny. Also, it’s a fun activity for gerbils. It stimulates them physically and mentally.

Pro Tip – You can also use a wide-tooth brush to comb your gerbil’s fur if something dry is stuck in their coat. If this doesn’t work, wet a cloth with lukewarm water and rub on the dirt till it removes.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, gerbils can swim. In fact, they are good at swimming, but only wild gerbils. Domesticated gerbils, for example, should not allow swimming as they are not habituated to it. In the wild, gerbils spend most of their lives in dry environments. They hardly get a chance to swim.

While gerbils can swim, there are some potential risks as well. Firstly, swimming is struggling to experience gerbils; due to this, the risk of drawing is high.

Moreover, since gerbils are dry-climate animals, getting wet can be dangerous for their health. Therefore, you shouldn’t allow your gerbils to swim or make them wet; it’s against their natural habit and can lead to severe consequences.

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