Thinking of keeping gerbils as pets? Gerbils are small enough for a house or apartment, possibly even a dorm room. They require little maintenance and are amiable, curious creatures available in several colors.
Keeping reading for facts about gerbils as pets.
Thinking About Getting a Gerbil?
There are several factors to consider when buying gerbils as pets for your household. There are considerations for size, noise, fur color, care requirements, how long they live, what they eat, cages, toys, exercise, and many more considerations needed.
How Big Do Gerbils Get?
Small enough to fit in a tea cup, they are pretty small creatures. With more than 100 species of gerbil they range from tiny, such as the Pouched Gerbil weighing under 15 grams and less than 8 cm in length, to large size as gerbils go, like the Giant Gerbil growing up to 20 cm in length or more.
Do Gerbils Make Noise?
Gerbils are generally quiet, shy creatures, so let them explore their surroundings at their own pace. They are sometimes called pocket pets and are very suitable for apartments. They occasionally make a squeaking or chirping sound when they become excited. Similar to cats, gerbils sometimes purr when content.
Do Gerbils Shed?
Like all animals with hair, they lose a little now and then. As small rodents, the amount of shedding is minimal and barely noticeable. Cleaning up after gerbils as pets is much easier than cleaning up after dogs or cats.
If your gerbil begins losing larger amounts, seek veterinarian care for your little friend.
What Colors of Gerbils are Available?
The most common variety is brown with a mix of white hairs, or Agouti. Brown or gold with hints of silver and a white underbelly are known as Argente. Gerbils as pets usually have dark brown eyes, but they may sometimes be ruby-colored.
Most pet stores carry the brown gerbils and have them available on a consistent basis.
Gerbil Care Guide
Millions of families have kept gerbils as pets. For many children, it’s their first hands-on experience with an animal and the responsibilities that accompanying pet ownership.
Keys to successful gerbil care:
- Proper cage with correct bar spacing
- Place to hide
- Exercise wheel
Nearly all pet stores sell plastic cages promoted as gerbil cages. Those cheaper cages present challenges. Gerbils love to chew and are well-known escape artists. They are very active at night, and many new gerbil owners have awakened to an empty cage and a missing gerbil.
Metal cages are better options for gerbils as pets, albeit more expensive. Metal latches are a must-have option.
Some owners choose to keep their gerbils in glass aquarium tanks. A better solution includes getting a gerbilarium set on top of a 10-gallon fish aquarium to provide double the space, more air circulation, and places to climb, play, and ultimately hide.
Cages with more metal than plastic are desirable. Many adequate designs include a bottom section made of plastic material attached to an upper area with metal bars. Consider using a small carabiner to latch the cage. Metal bars make this latching strategy much more manageable.
Gerbils as pets need access to water at all times.
Pelleted food is usually best and a supplement of fresh vegetables and fruits in small amounts will help keep your gerbil happy. A happy and healthy gerbil leads to a happy owner.
Gerbils need good, quality bedding material thick enough to allow burrowing and hiding if desired. The bedding needs regular changes to keep it fresh, reduce odors, and prevent unhealthy conditions for your friendly pets.
Keep a close eye on your new gerbil friend. Make note of your pet’s activity level each day. Keep your gerbil’s cage in a place where you can see him or visit her regularly. If your gerbil is normally very active and one day become quiet and inactive, your gerbil needs to see a veterinarian.
How Long do Gerbils Live as Pets?
Gerbils’ lifespan as pets ranges from 2 to 5 years in captivity. The key to longevity includes protection from predators, quality care, exercise, and better care for gerbils leads to a longer life.
How Will I Know if My Gerbil is Sick?
Gerbils are very sensitive to the environment, and any temperature, humidity, or lighting change can cause illness. They seem to do well from 65 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Gerbils who appear lethargic may be suffering from dehydration. They may also act lethargic simply because they’re bored.
Check your gerbils’ eyes for redness, discharge, or crusting around the eyes. Any of these symptoms could indicate an infection and need treatment from a veterinarian.
Why does my gerbil look depressed?
A gerbil’s natural habitat consists of burrows in the ground, and a lack of activity might result in depression. Keeping gerbils in cages is not their natural habitat. Provide your gerbil with plenty of stimulation, exercise (like climbing ladders), and chewable items like paper to shred to prevent boredom.
Stress is bad for gerbils
Loud noises and other abnormalities or sudden environmental changes could trigger gerbils’ troubles. Stress for any animal is undesirable; while it may not directly cause illness in your gerbil, it’s best to avoid it when possible.
Gerbils as pets are susceptible to various illnesses and infections. According to the MSD Veterinary Manual, a pre-cursor to good gerbil health includes a clean cage, clean water, food, and bedding.
One of the most common injuries for a gerbil is falling from a height like a bed, dresser, or tabletop. When handling them, keep them close to the floor as a precaution.
Can I Keep My Gerbil Outdoors?
Pet gerbils will do better when kept indoors, which may technically be possible in a temperate climate for part of the year. Still, large temperature swings from low to high, too much humidity, large swings in humidity levels, and predators make indoor habitats for pet gerbils a better option.
This provides more control over gerbil care to ensure it’s the best available.
Gerbils as Pets: Pros and Cons
If you are thinking about buying a gerbil, here are some things to consider when buying:
- Affordable supplies
- Pocket-sized in many cases
- Cheap cost doesn’t always mean easy care
- Determine who will look after the gerbil long-term
- Do you know how to care for gerbils as pets?
- Please don’t make an impulse purchase; think about it for several days (or weeks)
- Can you afford to purchase a proper house, supplies, and food for the new gerbil?
- Who will care for the gerbil when you’re not at home?
Hopefully, this article has covered what you hoped to learn about caring for gerbils as pets to help you with the decision to purchase a new pet, keep looking for alternatives, or admire them from afar.
With proper research and planning, a gerbil(s) could be just what you want in a new small house pet.
These pocket-sized fury animals offer and affordable pet option. Please consider whether you have the necessary time, commitment, and financial means to provide the appropriate cage, toys, bedding, food, and socialization that pet gerbils require.
Please consider whether you truly want to share your living space (and life) before purchasing gerbils as pets.
- Who will care for the gerbil when you are away from home?
- Will you commit to cleaning the cage daily, every-other-day, or as needed?
- Will you provide an appropriate cage and gerbil habitat?
- Where will you keep your gerbil?
- Will you grow tired of the responsibilities that accompany pet ownership?
If you’ve read to this point, hopefully you’ve considered the in’s and out’s to gerbils as pets and have the information you need to make an educated choice about buying a gerbil.