Gerbils are such cuties! If you have a pet gerbil, you know they can be a handful sometimes. But gerbils have become popular among new pet owners for their easy maintenance and sweet, gentle nature. Moreover, they are also not that expensive. So, it’s a win-win situation for gerbil owners!
Captive-bred Mongolian gerbil species are the popular choice of many, although there are many species out there. Usually, they have a grayish coat, but selective breeding has created different color variations, such as white, black, gold, brown, etc.
In this article, you will learn about gerbils as pets and some fascinating gerbil facts that will blow your mind! So get ready to ride the gerbil train. Here we go!
What Do Gerbils Look Like?
You are missing out if you have never seen these adorable little animals. Gerbils are small, furry animals with whiskers and large, dark black eyes. They can grow up to 20 to 30 cm. So small, right? Their lifespan is about 3 to 4 years on average. But some gerbils live up to 8 years.
A gerbil loves to eat apples and carrots. They will literally stuff their mouth with it. But you can also find gerbil muesli specially designed to keep gerbils healthy and provide the required nutrition.
Are Gerbils Good Pets?
Do you know there are about 110 species of gerbils? So many, right? Among them, the “Muridae” is the most prominent rodent family consisting of mice, rats, guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, capybara, etc. Even with so many types, Mongolian gerbils are the most popular species for pets are the Mongolian gerbils.
Gerbils are good pets because they are effortless to take care of and are low-maintenance. Moreover, they’re also easy to find on sale at pet stores. Gerbils’ diet is also straightforward, and their housing is easy to set up.
Gerbils sound like a great companion to have, right? Then, let’s get to know more about gerbils as pets!
Gerbils as Pets
Gerbils are playful and curious but also calm and quiet. You will also be happy to know that they are active during the day and night, although they are nocturnal animals. So more playtime for you!
Gerbils can stand on their hind legs, and it looks pretty amazing. How they stand and rub their faces can keep you entertained for a long time.
Let’s get moving on gerbil’s social life. They love staying in colonies in the wild. But your pet gerbil could become territorial with other animals because of their moderate temperament. Introducing new gerbils becomes a little more complicated then. But if you do it correctly and have patience, you will see them bonding within a few days. They will have their new best friend!
Moreover, if your gerbil is a little hard to manage, you can always try positive reinforcement to reward their good behaviors. It works like magic for almost all pets.
Housing a gerbil is very easy. They just need lots of space to make burrows. You might think it’s tough, but no, you can easily make their living space out of a fish aquarium. Gerbil owners prefer this type of housing the most as you can lay down deep bedding. We advise avoiding wire cages as they might get stuck or catch foot infections.
You can decorate the gerbil housing as you please. Remember to provide a place for water and food; you can’t forget climbing, hiding, and other activity platforms.
14 Interesting Gerbil Facts
We know you have been waiting for this part. Why shouldn’t you? Gerbils are such mysterious and funny animals we all want to know more about. They are delightful pets and can become good friends with hand handling over time.
We won’t make you wait any longer, so let’s get to the fun facts!
1. Gerbil Natural Habitat
Gerbils are native to Asia and Africa. Mountain valleys, clay or sandy desserts, grasslands, shrubs, etc., are gerbil’s natural habitat. They dig burrows in soft soil near trees or plants to get nutrition from their roots.
2. Desert Rats
Gerbils were known as “desert rats” before they became a widespread species in North America and Europe.
3. Teeth never stop growing
Gerbil’s teeth never stop growing, just like human hair or nails. They need to gnaw on wood or hard food to maintain their teeth. We bet they would still look cute with their big teeth. But you should keep things for them to gnaw on in their housing space.
4. Gerbils can jump really high
Gerbils can jump as high as 30 cm in the air. That’s almost about a foot high. You can train your gerbil to jump on your shoulders when crouched down or through hoops. It can be very entertaining.
5. Escape Artists
Gerbils are escape artists. You will definitely find a gerbil owner trying to search for their pet in their home occasionally. So, ensure the enclosure they will stay in is big enough to prevent your pet from escaping.
6. Gerbil Ban
If you live in California or Hawaii, we are sorry to say you can’t have a pet gerbil. The government doesn’t allow anyone to have one and also imposed a ban on gerbils in the states.
7. They are hoarders
You won’t believe how much food they store in their housing. But when you clean up the place, you will find food in burrows or in other kinds of stuff you gave them to play with.
How do they carry so much food? Well, they don’t have mouth pouches like hamsters, so they will move the food back and forth. It’s a lot of work, but your little pal enjoys it.
8. Gerbils are excellent at tunneling
They can construct an extensive network of burrows for food storage, shelter, or just to use as an escape tunnel. The burrows can be as deep as 1.7 meters with a length of 6 to 8 meters. For such a small animal, it’s a fascinating number.
9. Gerbils don’t use water to bathe
Surprised? We were too! Gerbils use sand to clean themselves. They roll around in the sand to get dirt or debris off them and instantly have shinier and healthier coats.
10. They are born boxers
Gerbils love to wrestle or box from a young age. It is not aggression but a way of bonding and playing with their siblings and parents.
11. Gerbils make great parents
Gerbils give birth to a litter of four to ten baby gerbils every 24 days or so. But they are great parents to all of them. In the wild, the father gerbil collects nesting materials and food and also teaches the young ones to scavenge for food. The male gerbil also helps in cleaning the babies. So sweet! Both of the gerbil parents help the young pups learn survival skills for living a healthy life in the wild.
12. They are intelligent
A gerbil will find an easy way to communicate with you. Usually, they don’t use their sense of hearing to communicate; instead, use their scent gland. They mark their territory, pups, and also food with their scent.
You can also easily teach them tricks, and they will happily perform with a bit of help. They are naturally curious animals, so they will do almost anything when given a treat as a reward for it.
13. They shed their tails
Yes, it is true; a gerbil can shed its tail as a way of self-defense adaptation. When their tail is caught by a predator while fleeing, they can easily shed it to escape. Wow! Fascinating!
14. A gerbil will squeal, sensing danger
Just like a rabbit, a gerbil will thump its hind legs, let out a sharp squeal when they sense danger, and then make a run for it. If you see your pet acting like this, it is better not to come near them because it will just scare them more.
FAQ about Gerbils
Do gerbils have tails?
Yes, gerbils have tails almost as long as the length of their bodies. Unlike other small rodents, they have fur on their tails too.
Is a gerbil a rat?
No, gerbils aren’t rats. Although they are of the same rodent family, both of them are very different from each other if you look closely. They also have different temperaments and personalities. For example, rats are more significant than gerbils, and the tails are also longer, whereas gerbils are small and have shorter tails than rats.
Is a gerbil a mammal?
Yes, gerbils are mammals just like other rodents—mice, rats, guinea pigs, etc. Rodents are a family of mammals that vary in size and give birth to babies.
Do gerbils hibernate?
No, gerbils don’t hibernate, unlike few other rodents. But that doesn’t mean winter won’t affect them at all. You will notice slight changes in your gerbil’s behavior in the wintertime.
Are there any hairless gerbils?
No, you won’t usually find any hairless gerbils unless they have a disease. Gerbils always have soft fur coats to keep them safe and warm. But your pet gerbils might lose some fur over time, and it’s normal. Excessive patches of fur loss can mean they have ticks or mites, the cage is overcrowded, or your gerbil feels stressed and has anxiety.
Aren’t Gerbils Just Fascinating?
If you didn’t get on board with the 14 amazing facts we just told you, you should get a gerbil and see for yourself. Your new pet won’t create chaos, and you will have a new friend to play with.
Although gerbils are low-maintenance, you can’t just put them in a housing space and forget. You must clean the housing properly, so your new pet doesn’t get sick. Moreover, spend time with them; otherwise, they will have anxiety.
We hope you enjoyed the fun facts and learned more about gerbils today. Find more similar content on our website. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Just leave a comment. We love to help. Have a great day with your new buddy!
I am Dana McQueen, a Veterinary Doctor who studied Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida. For years, I have got common questions from friends and family about their pets. So, I decided to open up this website and answer all those frequently asked questions. Alongside, here I share my expert knowledge about pet care, pet health and the animal environment.