The more gerbils, the merrier they are
If you are thinking about getting a gerbil as a pet, think in pairs. These creatures are very social and do not like living alone. The more, the merrier is the case here. They need other gerbils to live, nest and groom with. If you want a solitary rodent, buy a hamster. However, don’t just randomly buy gerbils and put them into a cage together because they are also very territorial. They will fight each other to the death to defend what they see as their territory. They will consider the other gerbil as an intruder. This is why it is a good idea to adopt gerbils from the same litter, i.e., those born together.
If for some reason you cannot get littermates, you have put the two gerbils through a process of familiarization. You can do this by putting them in the same cage fitted with a divider that they cannot pass. This allows them to smell each other and get familiar with their personal odours. Swap over their living areas from time to time. This will help them get to know the scent of the other gerbil even more quickly.
Even after all this, they should only be put together for short periods of time and only when you are able to watch over them. You can rest easy only when they start sleeping peacefully together. If there is any sign of hostility, go back to the first step to avoid ending up with a severely injured or dead gerbil on your hands. Gerbils that get along fine may also suddenly start fighting. In this case, they should be separated immediately before they kill each other. Even littermates might do this. One reason behind this may be a change in the bedding.
Don’t throw out all the old bedding
With new bedding comes a new scent that the gerbils will not recognize. It will then turn hostile towards its mate whose scent it can no longer recognize. To prevent this, always leave a bit of the old nesting bedding when replacing it with a new one.
It is absolutely fine to have two gerbils of the same sex together. They will nest together as long as they know each other. Having gerbils of the same sex is also encouraged unless you want to become a breeder. Be warned that unless you want a lot more gerbils, you should keep males and females apart. Gerbils can start breeding again within 8 hours of giving birth, so unless you know what you are doing, you won’t be able to stop the breeding.
The best way to avoid breeding is to identify the sex of the gerbils that you have. If you do not know how to do this, have an expert or a qualified person identify them for you. Just make sure you go to the right person and get them identified correctly, or else you may end up an unwitting breeder.
Having pairs of gerbils is good and recommended. But you could find yourself in a sticky situation with the wrong pairing.