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Are Gerbils Good Pets? Discover 7 Reasons Why They Make Amazing Companions!

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Local to Africa and Asia, gerbils are captivating animals known for their abilities to tunnel and their social nature. These little, long-followed rodents structure very close provinces in the wild, and their enrapturing conduct pursues them a well-known decision as pets. On the off chance that you’re thinking about adding a shaggy companion to your family, gerbils may be the ideal choice.

One of the fundamental reasons gerbils make extraordinary pets is their simplicity of care and upkeep. Dissimilar to a few different creatures, gerbils are moderately low-support, requiring negligible prepping and consideration. They are free creatures that can flourish in various everyday environments.

Now that you’ve acquired an understanding of “why gerbils are fantastic pets” and found out about the Mongolian gerbil as the favoured species, we should dig further into the seven convincing justifications for why gerbils make astounding friends. From their insight and versatility to their social nature and long life expectancy, you’ll find the reason why gerbils can give tremendous pleasure and friendship to your life. Thus, we should investigate the miracles of gerbil possession and leave on an astonishing excursion with these unbelievable animals!

Table of Contents

1. History And Classification

While considering gerbils as pets, understanding their set of experiences and classification is fundamental. Gerbils, little rodents with normally white-bellied, agouti-shaded fur, begin from districts like Focal Asia, India, the Center East, and Africa. They possess different environments, including savannas, steppes, hot deserts, and semi-desert regions. Notwithstanding being important for a similar sub-request as mice and rodents, gerbils have a place with a particular family known as Gerbillinae, comprising of roughly 90 species.

The Mongolian gerbil, likewise alluded to as the Ripped at Jird (experimentally known as Meriones unguiculatus), is the most regularly kept gerbil species as pets. It was first experienced by Europeans in Eastern Mongolia in 1867 and effectively reared external Mongolia during the 1930s. In 1954, they were imported to the US, and later acquainted with the Unified Realm.

Mongolian gerbils are important for the Meriones bunch, otherwise called Jirds, which occupy the northernmost locales of the gerbil’s reach, traversing from North Africa to Focal Asia. In the wild, Mongolian gerbils live in family gatherings of up to around 20 people, with only one female and one male consistently mating. They make mind boggling tunnels broadening around 20 inches underground, complete with settling loads and food stockpiling regions. Their eating regimen essentially comprises of seeds, roots, and leaves, despite the fact that they might enhance it with bugs.

Gerbils have adjusted to get by in their parched territory by preserving dampness and intensity. They produce negligible pee and perspire and have a stocky form, a shaggy tail, and little outer ears. Strangely, their center and internal ears have advanced to give excellent becoming aware of low-recurrence sounds, for example, those delivered by the wing beats of owls. Correspondence among gerbils fundamentally happens through aroma checking, while aural correspondence is saved for seasons of risk or sexual contact, frequently including foot drumming.

Not at all like numerous other little rodents, Mongolian gerbils are not rigorously nighttime and are similarly dynamic during the constantly.

Understanding the verifiable foundation and characterization of Mongolian gerbils makes way for valuing the remarkable characteristics that make them ideal pets. Presently, how about we dig into the seven convincing motivations behind why gerbils make astounding associates. From their engaging nature to their flexibility and life span, these intriguing animals bring a lot to the table as fuzzy companions. We should leave on an intriguing excursion investigating the miracles of gerbil proprietorship!

2. Buying a Gerbil: What to Consider Before Getting a Gerbil as a Pet

When considering buying a gerbil as a pet, it’s important to understand the reasons why gerbils are a popular choice among small rodent enthusiasts. While the decision ultimately depends on individual preferences, space availability, and caretaking abilities, some key factors make gerbils stand out among rodent options such as hamsters, mice, and rats.

  1. Social Nature: Gerbils are highly social colony animals, which means they thrive in the company of their own kind. Unlike hamsters, which are solitary creatures and must be kept alone, gerbils form close bonds with their cage mates. Therefore, it is recommended to get at least two gerbils of the same sex, preferably from the same litter. By having a companion, gerbils stay happy, active, and emotionally fulfilled.

  2. Compatibility with Space and Care Requirements: Gerbils have similar space, food, and bedding requirements compared to other small rodents. They typically require a cage of appropriate size, a balanced diet consisting of pellets, seeds, occasional treats, and a suitable bedding material. So, if you can meet the needs of gerbils in terms of space and care, they can be a convenient choice as pets.

  3. Curiosity and Interactivity: When selecting a gerbil, look for signs of curiosity and engagement. Gerbils approaching you when you approach their cage demonstrate a healthy level of curiosity. It’s advisable to handle the gerbil gently with two hands and observe its behaviour. A curious gerbil will investigate its surroundings, showing interest and responsiveness. Ensure the gerbil has clear, large eyes, soft fur, a well-formed stocky body, and a tail as long as its body with a tuft of fur at the end.

  4. Avoiding Health Issues: While choosing a gerbil, it’s important to avoid any signs of illness or poor disposition. Check for bites on the gerbil or if it displays aggressive behaviour towards you. These indications may suggest overcrowding or a gerbil with a bad temperament. Also, avoid gerbils with missing parts of their tails, as it may indicate improper handling or care. Look out for symptoms like depression, listlessness, diarrhoea, a sore or bleeding nose, dry or ruffled fur, and dull or runny eyes, which can indicate illness.

  5. Sexing Gerbils: Sexing gerbils is relatively easy when they are seven weeks or older. Male gerbils have prominent testicles, giving them the appearance of carrying a small duffel bag under their tails. Before seven weeks, sexing can be a bit more challenging, but it is still possible. Comparing two gerbils side by side or seeking assistance from a store clerk or a friend can help identify the differences. Males tend to have a tapered rump, while females have a more rounded rump.

  6. Lifespan: Gerbils typically live for about two to four years, although some sources mention a lifespan of three to five years. It’s essential to be aware of their average lifespan when considering them as long-term companions.

  7. Colour Variations: Gerbils come in various colours, with the two basic colours being black and agouti, which is a variegated brown, field mouse colour. Black gerbils are self-coloured, except for small white patches on the throat and feet, while agouti gerbils have a creamy-coloured tummy and feet. There are also variations like lilac, dove, argente golden, argente cream (also known as cinnamon and cinnamon cream), white, and spotted gerbils. Spotted gerbils can have spots or stripes on the forehead, a white shawl around the neck, and white paws.

Conclusion: Before buying a gerbil, consider their social nature, space requirements, interactivity, health indicators, sexing methods, lifespan, and colour variations. Understanding these factors will help you make an informed decision and provide the best possible care for your pet gerbils. Remember, gerbils can be delightful and engaging companions when given the appropriate care, attention, and a suitable environment to thrive.

3. Housing Gerbils: Finding The Perfect Home

Gerbils, with their unique needs and behaviours, require suitable housing to ensure their well-being and provide an enriching environment. When considering the ideal home for your gerbils, there are various options to explore. Each type of housing has its advantages and considerations. Let’s delve into the different housing options and their implications for gerbil owners.

  1. Aquariums: A Safe and Simple Choice One of the recommended and cost-effective housing options for gerbils is a ten-gallon aquarium. This setup typically includes a small animal lid, water bottles, bedding, food, and a wheel. Aquariums provide a secure enclosure, preventing escapes and keeping gerbils safe from household predators. Additionally, they contain bedding and substrate effectively, reducing mess and keeping the environment clean. However, it’s crucial to cover open hamster wheels with duct tape to prevent potential injuries to their tails or legs.

  2. Modified Bird Cages: A Spacious Alternative Another housing option is a modified bird cage, suitable for a non-breeding pair of gerbils. These cages come with features such as wheels, plastic houses (which may be chewed over time), water bottles, ladders, and shelves, offering gerbils more vertical space to explore. Cleaning is made easier with the sliding tray built into the floor. However, it’s important to note that gerbils may feel less secure or exhibit aggressive behaviour in open spaces, and bedding may be kicked out, causing some mess.

  3. Considerations for Wheel Selection: Standard hamster wheels with open spaces between the bars pose a risk of entangling a gerbil’s tail or leg. To ensure safety, it’s recommended to cover these wheels with duct tape or invest in solid wheels like Wodent Wheels. Although solid wheels are more expensive, the added safety they provide outweighs the cost.

  4. Module Homes: Engaging and Interactive Module homes with plastic tubes offer a colourful and interactive environment for gerbils. However, the cheaper varieties are prone to chewing and may be easily destroyed. More expensive options often incorporate metal protection to increase durability. While these cages provide entertainment for both gerbils and owners, they can become scratched over time due to the gerbils’ sharp nails and burrowing instincts.

  5. Homemade Cages and Dirt Aquariums: Customization Options For those seeking customization options, making your own wire cages or utilizing a large aquarium with dirt are possibilities. Homemade wire cages allow for multilevel designs, providing gerbils with climbing opportunities. However, they share the downsides of premade wire cages, such as messiness and the potential for gerbils to escape through chewable materials. Dirt aquariums simulate a natural habitat, allowing gerbils to dig tunnels. While this setup can be messy and present challenges in monitoring gerbil health, it offers a unique and enriching experience.

  6. Toys and Enrichment: Keeping Gerbils Stimulated Including toys in the gerbils’ cages is essential to keep them mentally stimulated and prevent boredom. Items like toilet paper tubes, small boxes, ceramic toys, and even homemade mazes can provide entertainment and exercise. Variety is key to keeping gerbils engaged.

By understanding the different housing options available and their implications, gerbil owners can make informed decisions to create a safe, enriching, and engaging environment for their furry companions. Remember to consider the specific needs and behaviours of gerbils when selecting their housing, ensuring their well-being and contentment.


a) Feeding Gerbils: A Comprehensive Guide to Balanced Nutrition

Gerbils, small and active desert rodents, make wonderful pets. Providing them with a well-balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for their overall health and well-being. In this guide, we will explore the various options for feeding gerbils, including prepackaged pellets, seed mixes, homemade mixes, and lab blocks. Additionally, we’ll discuss the dietary requirements for different life stages, the importance of water, and the role of vitamins and minerals in their diet.

  1. Prepackaged Pellets, Seed Mixes, and Lab Blocks:
  • While prepackaged pellets are not recommended as the sole diet, they can be a part of a balanced feeding regimen.
  • Gerbil seed mixes, although convenient for pet gerbils or a small number of breeding pairs, may require supplementation to increase the protein content.
  • Lab blocks, homogenized seed mixes with reduced fat, can be a cost-effective option and are especially useful for providing food during periods of absence.
  1. Homemade Food Mix:
  • Mixing your own gerbil food can be cost-effective and allows you to have control over their diet.
  • Use a variety of seeds, bird food mixes, and feeds like high-protein chicken feed or three-way sweet feed for horses.
  • Calculate the nutritional balance of the mix based on the nutritional analysis of each component.
  1. Dietary Requirements for Different Life Stages:
  • Non-breeding pets: Aim for a moderate protein content (around 12%) and a fat content between 6% and 8%.
  • Breeding gerbils: Provide a higher protein content (15%-16%) and 7-9% fat to support reproduction and nursing.
  • Geriatric gerbils: Adjust the diet to lower protein content (10-11%) and 3-5% fat to accommodate their changing nutritional needs.
  1. Importance of Water:
  • Despite being desert animals, gerbils still need access to water for optimal health.
  • Do not rely solely on vegetables to provide moisture; provide a water bottle of appropriate size and keep it filled.
  1. Vitamins and Minerals:
  • Using vitamins and minerals is a personal preference, but they can be beneficial for ensuring all necessary micronutrients are present.
  • Liquid or powdered forms can be added to water or mixed into food, following the package instructions.
  • Good-quality vitamins with a wide range of nutrients, such as Vionate or SuperPreen, can supplement their diet effectively.

Conclusion: Feeding gerbils a well-balanced and varied diet is essential for their health and happiness. Whether you choose prepackaged pellets, seed mixes, homemade mixes, or lab blocks, it’s important to meet their specific nutritional requirements based on their life stage. Providing access to water and considering vitamin and mineral supplementation can further enhance their overall well-being. Remember to monitor their eating habits and adjust the diet as necessary to ensure optimal health for your furry companions.

b) Choosing Bedding and Enrichment Options for Gerbils

When it comes to bedding for gerbils, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Avoid cedar bedding: Cedar contains volatile oils that can be harmful to gerbils, causing various health issues. It’s best to steer clear of cedar bedding to ensure your gerbil’s well-being.
  • Use kiln-dried pine or aspen shavings: While pine can be used as bedding, it’s important to opt for kiln-dried pine or let regular pine air out for several days to reduce the presence of volatile oils. Aspen shavings are a better alternative as they don’t contain any oils and are safe for gerbils.
  • Consider corn cob bedding: If you have a cage with a wire bottom over a pan, using corn cob bedding underneath the wire can serve as a good absorbent base. You can then add a softer litter on top.
  • Non-wood bedding options: Gerbils will appreciate having soft materials for nest building. Tissue paper, cotton balls, cotton batting, and used paper can all be suitable nesting materials. It’s generally recommended to avoid cotton and wool products due to ingestion risks, so paper products are often the safer choice.
  • Cleaning frequency: The frequency of cage cleaning depends on factors like cage size and bedding type. It’s best to rely on your sense of smell and visual cues. If the cage starts to smell or looks dirty, it’s time for cleaning. A quarter-inch coating of litter on the bottom is acceptable, but several inches can provide more opportunities for digging and tunnelling.
  • Using a food dish: While some people prefer to scatter food in the cage, using a dish has its benefits. It allows you to monitor the gerbil’s food intake and results in less waste and a cleaner cage. Ceramic or metal dishes are recommended to prevent chewing.
  • Gerbil exercise balls: The use of exercise balls is a matter of personal preference for gerbils. Some gerbils enjoy zipping around in them, while others may not show much interest. If your gerbils enjoy the balls, ensure supervision, block off stairs, and secure the lids with tape. Limit their time in the ball to around half an hour and provide other exercise options, such as wheels, in their cages.

Remember to prioritize the safety and comfort of your gerbils when selecting bedding and providing enrichment options for them.

c) Gerbil Handling, Biting, and Enrichment: Essential Tips for Caring for Gerbils

  • Taming Gerbils: The key to taming gerbils is regular handling. Initially, they may run away from you, but with time and patience, they can become more tame and even sit on your shoulder. Hand-feeding them sunflower seeds is an effective way to build trust and association with positive experiences.
  • Dealing with Biting: Gerbils rarely bite without reason. Curiosity is a common cause, especially among young gerbils who explore with their mouths. Lightly tapping their heads or providing a gentle puff of air when they nip can discourage biting behaviour. If fear is the underlying cause, various techniques like using the bathtub to create a calm environment can help in taming frightened gerbils.
  • Proper Handling Techniques: To pick up a gerbil, create a small cave with your hands and gently scoop them up. Allowing them to explore your hands before letting them walk over your palms can help them acclimate to handling. Avoid picking them up by their tails, except in emergencies, as it can cause harm and distress.
  • Supervised Exercise: While permanent free-roaming in the house is not recommended, you can create a gerbil-proofed room where they can run around for a limited time under supervision. Ensure all exits are blocked and potential hazards are removed to prevent them from getting lost or injured.
  • Chewing Needs: Gerbils have a natural chewing instinct, and providing appropriate chew items is essential. Cardboard, store-bought chew sticks, and branches from safe trees are suitable options. Pine cones can also be given as a source of entertainment and chewing material.
  • Lighting Requirements: Gerbils need a regular day/night light cycle. Direct sunlight should be avoided, especially in plastic cages or aquariums, as it can lead to overheating. Bright fluorescent lights connected to timers or consistent use of regular lighting can ensure gerbils maintain a normal day/night rhythm. It’s important to note that the impact of lighting on breeding animals may vary, so consulting experts for further information is recommended.

5. Understanding Gerbil Behavior: Insights into Thumping, Interactions, and Territory Marking

  1. Thumping Sounds: Gerbils use thumping as a means of communication. They produce a consistent, quick “da-dum, da-dum” sound to alert other gerbils of potential danger or when startled by loud noises or the presence of other pets. This behavior can quickly spread among gerbils, creating a lively percussion ensemble. Additionally, male gerbils may emit long, rhythmic thumps during sexual activity.
  2. Thumping Mechanism: Thumping is accomplished by gerbils pounding their hind feet simultaneously on the floor. It’s a fascinating behavior to observe, considering the small size of these animals.
  3. Young Gerbils and Thumping: Young gerbils are more prone to being startled, and they may exhibit thumping behavior even in the absence of any real danger. It often seems like a playful and exploratory behavior rather than a sign of constant fear. Although harmless, it can be quite endearing to witness in young gerbils.
  4. Gerbil Interactions: Pair-bonded gerbils and family units engage in various social behaviors. They cuddle, groom each other, wrestle, play chase, and even sleep in a heap, with some gerbils lying on top of others. Mated pairs may engage in playful wrestling while bathing, with one gerbil holding down the other for a vigorous cleaning session.
  5. Recognizing Aggressive Behavior: Gerbils that are being aggressive towards each other may exhibit behaviors such as boxing, pushing each other side to side, and violent chasing, with one gerbil fleeing in a panicked manner and the other giving chase. It can be challenging to distinguish between playful and aggressive boxing, so it’s crucial to consider other signals and the overall mood of the interaction. When a gerbil feels genuinely threatened, it may emit loud squeaks in panic. The most dangerous behavior occurs when gerbils roll into a tight ball while fighting, indicating a serious conflict where they may attempt to harm or kill each other. Immediate separation is necessary in such cases.
  6. Territory Marking: Gerbils have scent glands on their stomachs, which they use to mark their territory. Lift a gerbil and observe a small, narrow patch of bare skin—this is the scent gland. Through the production of an oily secretion with a distinct scent, gerbils mark their possessions and other gerbils recognized as part of their family group.

6. Proper Medical Care for Gerbils: Addressing Health Issues and Providing Treatment

Gerbils, like any other pets, may encounter various health issues that require proper care and attention. Understanding how to address these medical concerns is crucial for ensuring the well-being of your gerbil. Here are some important points to consider regarding gerbil medical care:

  1. Dealing with Gerbil Fights and Injuries

    • If your gerbils have been fighting and one is bleeding, you can wash the wound with hydrogen peroxide and consult your veterinarian for a topical antibiotic.
    • In the case of a broken leg, keep the gerbil warm and ensure it is eating. Nursing the gerbil by hand may be necessary for young gerbils. Closed fractures usually recover within a day or two, while open fractures might require amputation if an infection develops.
  2. Understanding Wet Tail and its Treatment

    • Wet Tail refers to a group of diarrhea-related diseases, with the most common being Tyzzer’s Syndrome. It is a serious condition that can lead to death, especially in young gerbils.
    • Symptoms include green-ish colored diarrhea, depression, listlessness, lowered body temperature, and sometimes red mucus around the eyes.
    • The recommended treatment involves a combination of antibiotics, subcutaneous fluids, and diligent cleaning of cages and bedding.
    • Administering Wet Tail medication directly into the mouth, using tetracycline in the water, and maintaining clean cages are key steps in treating Wet Tail.
  3. Administering Medication to Gerbils

    • To give medicine to your gerbil, you can hold it by the tail and use your other hand to firmly grasp the loose fur at the back of the neck. This technique, called “scruffing,” allows for the safe administration of medication using a needleless syringe or eyedropper.
    • It’s important to note that gerbils may squirm during this process, but holding them securely by the scruff will usually keep them still long enough for medication to be given.
  4. Subcutaneous Fluids for Dehydration

    • Subcutaneous fluids, also known as sub-Q fluids, involve injecting saline and glucose fluid under the skin of a dehydrated gerbil. This method is particularly helpful in cases of Wet Tail.
    • It is important to consult your vet before attempting this procedure. The fluids should be warmed to slightly above body temperature, and the injection should be administered slowly into the scruff of the gerbil’s skin.
  5. Addressing Allergies and Bald Tails

    • If your gerbil has a sore, red, or bleeding nose, it may be experiencing an allergic reaction to the bedding. Switching to aspen chips or alternative bedding types can help alleviate the issue. Antibiotics may be necessary if the symptoms persist.
    • Gerbils that pluck the hair on their tails are likely bored or lonely. Providing new toys, a wheel, or considering a companion gerbil can help alleviate this behavior. Dipping the tail in a bitter substance daily can discourage hair plucking.
  6. Other Medical Concerns

    • Gerbils may occasionally exhibit fits or sudden stillness due to overstimulation. Keeping the gerbil warm is usually sufficient, and they typically recover within a couple of minutes.
    • For medical issues not covered here, refer to the NGS (National Gerbil Society) website’s section on Diseases and Ailments in Gerbils. If the problem remains unresolved, consult a veterinarian. Consider sharing your experience with the gerbil community through online forums for collective learning.

Proper medical care is essential for maintaining the health and happiness of gerbils. By understanding these medical considerations and being proactive in addressing health issues, you can ensure your gerbil remains

So, Are Gerbils Good Pets?

"Gerbils: Affordable, low-maintenance, and best enjoyed in pairs, these furry rodents make amazing companions for older children and adults, bringing joy and companionship to those who are willing to provide them with proper care and a suitable environment."

In conclusion, gerbils are affordable and low-maintenance pets, making them a great choice for older children and adults. While they may not be suitable for small kids, gerbils can bring joy and companionship to individuals or families. Remember that gerbils thrive when they have a companion, so it’s advisable to get them in pairs. This ensures their social and emotional well-being.

Gerbils are easy to care for, requiring basic attention to their health and environment. However, it’s important to provide proper medical care when needed. Promptly addressing any fights or injuries, as well as being aware of common ailments like Wet Tail, can ensure the longevity and happiness of your gerbil companions. Additionally, understanding how to administer medication and perform subcutaneous fluid injections, if necessary, can be beneficial in providing proper care.

Overall, gerbils offer a rewarding pet ownership experience. Their playful and active nature, combined with their relatively low maintenance requirements, make them amazing companions for those who are willing to provide them with a suitable habitat and the care they deserve.

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Dr. Chandrika

About Me

I am a veterinary doctor who is passionate about providing top-quality care for pets and their families. My mission is to share my knowledge and expertise with pet owners through my blog, petearnest.com.


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