Ten Things you need to know before Adopting a Pet Gerbil

Things you need to know about Gerbils

Gerbils crave company. You should try to get two gerbils that know each other and have already lived together.  While they enjoy company, if you put two gerbils who do not know each other there can be problems. The gerbils may fight and that may lead to injuries or death of one of the gerbils.

Gerbils have a lifespan of 3-4 years. But with proper care they can live up to  4 years.

Carefresh or aspen is recommended for bedding of the gerbils. Cedar or pine are a strict no-no for bedding  because these can create liver,  respiratory  and other health problems. Fluffy nest budding is also not recommended as the gerbils may accidentally swallow some of the cotton which could lead to bowel blockage. Using straw for bedding purposes is not recommended as the edges are sharp and may be uncomfortable for your pets.

An aquarium-like glass chamber with a cover and proper ventilation is the best home for gerbils. If you use a cage you should choose a strong metal one because gerbils can easily chew through wooden cages and escape. Gerbils prefer to curl themselves in the corners of cages, so avoid buying round ones.

You should feed them good quality commercial food such as Gerri Gerbil Food which made especially to fulfill the dietary requirements of  gerbils. Fresh vegetables, plain cereals, seeds, small pieces of fruits etc can be used  as  supplements to their basic diet. But these should be given to the gerbils only occasionally. Sunflower seeds and peanuts have a high fat content. Although gerbils love these seeds high amounts of them may result in obesity. A gerbil shouldn’t be given large amount of lettuce because it contains a lot of water and it may cause diarrhea.

If the gerbil is brought for children, then an adult should always supervise its  handling.  You should never hold gerbils by its tail or pull its tail as it is very fragile. Obviously you shouldn’t allow cats, dogs, ferrets or other animals to loiter around your gerbils.

You shouldn’t give your gerbils plastic toys to play with as they will chew them and swallow the plastic, which is very harmful for their health. They love  cardboard tubes from paper towels and toilet rolls. Wooden chew toys are another option.

You can give gerbils occasional sand baths, they love them!

You should provide your gerbils with wooden planks so that they can chew them. Gerbils teeth grow continuously so they need to chew something to wear them down. If their teeth continue to grow they can split through the cheek of the gerbil causing a mouth injury.

Gerbils require regular veterinary checks.

About the Author

I'm a (fairly) old Welsh guy who writes about keeping small pets as hobby. I live in the beautiful Italian Alps with my long suffering partner and three very spoiled cats.

44 Comments on "Ten Things you need to know before Adopting a Pet Gerbil"

  1. awsome but I would not want that to happen to my gerbil

  2. my gerbils are really cute cocoe and kelly i love them alot.

  3. hey 1 of my gerbils are like that


  5. i can only have one gerbil but if they are cheap i might be able to get 2 so could someone tell me how much they are?

  6. Katrina R. | March 17, 2011 at 8:41 pm |

    I just bought my two pet gerbils named bruce and alfred and they cost at petsupermarket about 8 bucks each. They are so sweet and awesome. They have great personalities and are going to be spoiled rotten.

  7. they are $12.00-$30.00.

  8. tony, if you are spending 12-30 on gerbils you need to find a new pet store. I have 3 in my immediate area, and they range from 6-12

  9. I got my gerbils Zeus and Zerry at the pet store for 10 dollers each. cloclo It is very important for gerbils to have a buddy so they will live longer and be happier. You should be careful to get 2 boys or 2 girls because my petstore sells them at 4 weeks so you cant tell now i have a boy and mommy whos babbies should be coming any day now

  10. You can determine their gender when they are quite young aswell using the nipple method so your pet store should have known whether they were boys or girls.

  11. im only getting one, is it possible for her to live long, even though she is alone??

  12. How do you do a sand bath? I’m confused…..

  13. Jordan, this is how to give a sand bath.
    1. Get some chinchilla sand at the store. This is available at Petsmart.
    2. Put the sand in a gerbil-sized clay bathhouse, also of wich can be purchased at Petsmart.
    3. The gerbils will find out about the bathhouse, and naturally explore it, and eventually start to roll around in the sand, thous giving themselves a sandbath.

  14. Aww thats cool well i dont have a gerbil but ive been pestering my mom to get me one so maybe??. Im excited though!:) thats great info to consider for my new pet

  15. Have any good facts about having a gerbil as a pet to tell my mom?:)

  16. Paigey975, I highly recommend a gerbil instead of a hamster, since these are much more friendly than hamsters. My children (who are now adults) have always had pets and I have bought them from fish, to iguanas, turtles, birds, dogs, cats and hamsters. Where I live (Puerto Rcio) you couldn’t buy gerbils, as a matter of fact, I knew about them for the first time when PetSmart arrived two and a half years ago. When I saw them I just fell in love. So I didn’t buy it for my kids, already adults, but for my students. Many of them can’t have a pet because their parents don’t want the responsibility. So I bought one to keep at school. My students called him Charlie. He’s been a very good boy and loves to be cuddles in the kids hands. Very easy to take care of. Likes fresh veggies and seeds. They urinate in a separated place from where they sleep and play and eat, so it is very important to have that in mind when buying a cage. It should be comfortable for it to move around and to have his place to so their bussiness. Hope you convince your mom to buy you one.

  17. I have a plastic cage……..is that safe???????

  18. I need boy and girl names I am getting one for chirstmas . The cage has a cute little slide

  19. Ideas for fun stuff to do with ur gerbil thank u

  20. I’m getting a gerbil but I don’t know what to name it

  21. Blakelee you could call your gerbil marshmallow, popcorn,pickles and muffin.

  22. gerbilsrock44 | August 18, 2014 at 10:53 pm |

    this is very helpful thanks but i already have a guinea pig and a hamster and i was told that if i get a gerbil it might attract RATS is this true?

  23. I use Timothy hay and my gerbils love to nest with it.

  24. I want a gerbil and I might be getting one who knows

  25. im getting two gerbils for my bday and I was wondering if cheeky and sassy would be good names

  26. my mom say I can’t handle a gerbil but I MIT get a gerbil after summer camp😱😁😁😁😁😁😁👑

  27. I love gerbils my mom says I can’t have one in tell after summer camp😱

  28. I am gonna get a Gerbil for my birthday!
    Thank you for the information
    but gerbils can live for 5 years its quite rare to get one that lives as long as that
    I live in London
    when i get my gerbil how will i give it sand bath Petsmarts is in America!

  29. Hi!
    im Sasha i will get a Gerbil for my bday its very soon! sadly i cannot give you the exact date since that is personal information but my question is… is the Qute Hamster and Gerbil cage sutiable for gerbils? let me know if you have the answer!
    P.S gerbils can live for 5 years if given the right care!

  30. Another Common problem with Gerbils is that they are quite greedy for my 7th birthday i was asked to look after my neighbors gerbil i was very exited at first but their gerbil was so greedy it ate all the vegtables in the house! it was sick! my neighbors blamed me we .dont get on very well now and im petrified of that gerbil because it hisses when you take away the food its eating!

  31. none of it was true but im still very happy that i might get gerbil for my bday

  32. !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. Hello!
    im going to Get a gerbil soon! my question is
    how often do you give gerbils a sand bath

  34. My sure name begins with o
    thats so random to say……

  35. Hallo
    I have a gerbils won is called maya and de other peanut

  36. I am getting 3 gerbils but what do they eat

  37. I really need to know
    By the way I live93 Vale green norwich Norfolk mile cross

  38. YoungGerbilProfessional | June 8, 2017 at 2:30 am |

    I have 2 gerbils about to get 2 more for extra company. I love my gerbils and they are very fun and easy to care for (only if you know how to care for them). Anyways, gerbils don’t need just some wire cage that you bought at the nearest store because it said “Amazing for small animals such as gerbils and etc.” Well wire cages are the worst for gerbils! They are gnawers and they will start to gnaw on the wire caging and get mouth sores and nose sores. I know this isn’t my article but I would like to throw in some stuff. 1st off plain, white, unscented tissue is PERFECTLY fine for gerbils nesting! It even says in American Gerbil Society that it’s perfectly fine unless its scented. I forgot to mention that gerbils burrow and dig and love to kick around bedding, that’s another reason why you can’t give them wire caging for if you do you will wake up to bedding everywhere and they won’t have anything to dig which could lead to boredom. I know he says that you should get a tank but only because they escape, well that’s not the only reason why you shouldn’t get a wire cage. Anyways, if you want a gerbil you HAVE to get 2 or they won’t eat, get depressed and probably die. Gerbils in the wild live together and are very social. If you want only 1 animal then you should buy an independent creature like a hamster. A website I found helpful is WikiHow all you have to do is type in what you need to know and it will pop up helpful articles. A YouTube channel I found helpful is Happy Tails and all you have to do is type in Gerbil Care Happy Tails and the first video is the one that will tell you all you need to know. Tank sizing is another thing people need to know before they get a gerbil. 10 gallons is the best for 2 gerbils but the bigger the better so if you could get more then just 10 gallons that would be great (I prefer 20 gallons for 2 gerbils because there is a lot more open space so if you can it would be just amazing to get a 20 gallon). Food is another thing. You should always put hay in their tank (I use Timothy grass hay which is recommended). Gerri Gerbil Food is very fattening to your gerbils. I use sunflower seeds and peanuts as my gerbils treats! I recommend you find things that have more healthy things for your gerbils. The last thing is that they always need an hour out of their cage. I use a cheap kiddy pool and put care fresh in it. In your playpen you should have more things to play on then to hide in and way more toys then their cage has. Also be sure to put plenty of card board in their cages they love to gnaw! I hope you take care of your gerbils and have a nice day!

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  42. Elizabeth | May 22, 2020 at 11:37 pm |

    Perfect classroom pet. Not as nocturnal as hamsters and a same sex pair is awesome to watch and interact with. Great as some kids come from homes where they aren’t allowed. I have had many pairs in the years I’ve taught.

  43. Rosie Martin | June 16, 2020 at 10:25 am |

    I have pre- had 3 gerbils i am only 8 but easily know what to do now when my hamster dies dot get me wrong i love my hamster but so im not sad about his passing we are getting 4 gerbils one for me one for my sister and one for my mum no she is not a single parent dad just doesnt want one i was doing some research and it said own gerbils in even groups and if we got 2 mum could not have one so we are purchasing a very large cage and yea i am an 8 year old who uses the other 90% of her brain aswell as 10%.
    byeee XX

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