What are Gerbils like as Pets?

Gerbils make great pets

Gerbils are extremely popular as pets and can be a lot of fun. They are super easy to clean, take care of, and feed. If you are considering getting a Gerbil as a pet and companion, you should learn how to care for them.

The size and life span of a Gerbil

An adult Gerbil can live up to 3 years, some may live even longer. A fully-grown Gerbil can measure up to 4-5” long with a tail that is almost as long as the body.

How to house your Gerbil

One pair of gerbils will live happily in a 10-gallon fish tank, although, almost nothing is too big for pets. Wooden cages will have holes chewed into them very quickly and wire cages are a bad idea because gerbils like to chew and dig in their homes.

How to feed your Gerbil

You can easily find premixed Gerbil food at your local pet store. You can also mix your own feed from hamster and parrot feeds. Gerbils really like sunflower seeds and tend to overeat them. You can use them as treats while training them or playing with them.

Gerbils usually get their water requirement from the food they eat. But as pet food is very dry, put fresh water in the cage. Gerbils also like fresh fruit, vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, cheese etc. But keep them away from fatty and starchy food to keep them healthy and active.

Your social Gerbil

Unlike hamsters, it is a bad idea to have a single gerbil as a pet. Gerbils are highly social creatures and having company makes them more active, happy and live a longer life. In the wild gerbils live in family groups of around 20 individuals. Two males or Two females that know each other can easily and safely be kept together. Usually choosing Gerbils from the same litter is the way to go. Never try to introduce a young Gerbil into a cage with an older gerbil. The older one is likely to fight and kill the younger Gerbil for ‘intruding’ into its territory.

Caring for your Gerbil

You should normally feed your gerbil everyday. But if you need to go away for a day or two, just fill the feeding bowl with extra food that won’t go bad before you return. A gravity fed water drip will last for up to a week but you should change the water at least once or twice a week, if not daily.

As they come from the desert, Gerbil droppings are very dry and are  in the form of pellets. Also, they usually have one spot for droppings, which makes it very easy to just scoop them up now and then. You will need to replace the bedding at least once a month or as often as needed. Leave a small part of the old bedding so that the new bedding has a familiar scent.

You do not have to create a special habitat with artificial lights for Gerbils. They are alternately active and sleeping through out day and night, sleeping for only an hour or two every time. But Gerbils bred in captivity and pet Gerbils can easily adapt to the human schedules.