Published on June 7th, 2011 | by Jules Yap


Gerbils Haven

Materials: Expedit 4×2

Description: My girlfriend really wanted some kind of pet. Guinea pigs would be fine… something like that. As I’m an aesthete – at least think to be – the hutch had to fit in the living room nicely. An Expedit meets my requirements, but is too small for guinea pigs. It wasn’t too hard to convince her of Gerbils (first look: “sweeeeeeeeet” *g*).

The Expedit has to contain the hutch and the things one needs to care for his rodents. I decided to use 3/4 for the hutch.

For three apartments two small cubicles are combined. The Expedit boards spanning two cubicles can be used vertically or horizontally.

Wire netting in the upper part keeps the rodents from too much freedom. Each apartment gets a drawer with a glass front for easy cleaning.

As the rodents shouldn’t jump from one floor to the other, tubes would solve that issue fine.

Therefore I cut 4 holes in the right side and two in the middle board.

Updated: 8 June. My bad. I didn’t notice that the hack was submitted in 2 parts. So click the link below for Part II. ~ Jules 

I used a “Lochkreissäge” – I really couldn’t find the name in english:

Each hole is 75mm in diameter. To keep the rodents what they are used to, I fitted in pieces of drain pipe.

The netting wire holds in place in a slot and on the upper side with magnets.

Don’t forget a back plane, I used 4mm wallboard.

Looks pretty nice, eh?

You can find a documentation in german in 4 little articles on my homepage. See more of the Gerbil haven – and also my 4 new roomies.

~ Stephan, Dresden, Germany

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

16 Responses to Gerbils Haven

  1. Ruthie A says:

    1) Plastic veneer laminate is actually considered to be an effective manner of decreasing the level of off gassing by up to 95%.
    2)The minimum levels for humans are actually stated as 0.1ppm (parts per million) and mild shortness of breath at this level is considered to be an extreme reaction(in the same way as people can have severe reactions to milk powder, hair dye, tomato juice and any number of things). Average people require for levels to be closer to 0.2 before they will have any reaction (normally a mild eye tingling).
    3) A proven carcinogen for humans for one extremely rare form of cancer. It was proved to be a carcinogen on rats at levels of 14.3ppm with 24 months of constant exposure.
    So baring these figures in mind the average ppm in the atmosphere is 0.03. Partial board has an upper cap of 0.3 at the moment of manufacture. within the first month these levels drop by 25%, half in 6months and have reached the ambient level of 0.03 within 1 year. This is why most partial board items are intentionally stored for several months prior to shipping. In short don’t worry about your little ‘roomies’ and off gassing, I’m afraid I don’t know anything about digging depth though! Sorry about the rant and I know people mean well but they need to look into the specifics of the issue not just look at the headline version.

  2. Sofia says:

    Gerbils must be able to dig in the sawdust. AT LEAST 10cm.
    And the wood will suck up all the pee.

  3. Anonymous says:

    richard gere heaven!

  4. Moontree says:

    Stephan: According to the IKEA site, EXPEDIT is made of “Particleboard, Fiberboard, ABS plastic, Paper, Printed and embossed acrylic paint, Clear acrylic lacquer”. Not wood. maybe a wood-grain printed plastic veneer, but that’s about it. Particleboard is a composite of wood and other fibers covered in a veneer, which is adhered together with glue or resin containing formaldehyde. This is a known carcinogen which can cause respiratory problems in humans at levels as small as 0.046 ppm. While formaldehyde levels may drop over time to levels that can be tolerated by normal human use, it never completely disappears, and certainly not into levels that would be considered healthy for a small animal. Especially for one that scratches or chews on its habitat.

    And yes, I DID read the article and I DID see the drawer. I suggested a plastic liner so it would be easier to clean.

  5. Anonymous says:

    A Lochkreissaege or Lochsaege in English would be a holesaw, compass saw or hole cutter. :)

  6. Anonymous says:

    Also, at least in my country, it is illegal to have gerbils in cages with metal net on the sides or bottom. Only at the top is it legal. Gerbils are active, climbers, and will get stuck in the net and break arms or legs. Also, they gnaw on plastic tubes and die from ingestion problems. Those are hamster tubes. Never for gerbils.

  7. Stephan says:

    Another thing about the formaldehyde angst: The Expedit I used was 3 years old. The formaldehyde is gone.

  8. Stephan says:

    @Moontree: Expedit is *not* made of particle board as you can see by looking at the Images above. Second: Gerbils don’t pee as much as guinea pigs do. Nothing unsanitary here. With this size of the hutch total clean out once a month is enough. The drawer you recommend is already integrated: read the article!
    But you are right, I wouldn’t recommend the design for guinea pigs, it’s too small.

  9. Moontree says:

    No. No, no, no. #1: gerbils (and other rodents) chew. Expedit is made of particleboard / MDF, which contains formaldehyde, which is toxic to animals. #2: they also pee. Wood & particleboard are awful for the bottoms of cages, because the urine & feces soak in and become unsanitary. At the very least i’d recommend fitting a drawer liner or shallow bin of some sort into the bottom.

    Hamsters are one thing, but PLEASE don’t ever house guinea pigs in this sort of setup. There’s not nearly enough air circulation and GP’s like to have open space (at least 2′ x4′) to run around.

    Sorry to be a party pooper. the design is very lovely in concept, but not really that good for animals, at least not without some significant tweaking.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I say this on every Ikea hacked gerbil-arium and i’ll say it again now:

    Gerbils are burrowing animals by nature and need far more material in which to burrow than you’re currently providing them.

  11. Michelle says:

    Very cool! I shared with my husband and you have our heads cranking on how we can make one for our daughter’s guinea pig…
    Thanks for sharing!!!

  12. Gaelle says:

    I would just be worried the gerbils will chew through all this wood and plastic in no time!

  13. Anonymous says:

    I’m Joe of furnituremyrtlebeach.com and I got directed here through a listing of impressive design blogs. I’m new here and I’m already hooked. All guinea pigs have the right to be in that box.

  14. Liz says:

    Freaking brilliant. This is amazing! My mice would LOVE it!

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