Recommended Child’s Age: 5+

Lifespan of Pet: 3-4 years

Required Care: Easy

Pet Interaction: Social

Costs: Low

 

About Gerbils

Gerbils make great little pets, they are a little bigger than a mouse and have long furry tails. They can be often seen sitting on their hind quarters. They are not nocturnal like the hamster, but instead tend to get sleep through a series of naps throughout the the day and night. They are very social with other gerbils and it is recommended to get two same sex pairs as they will provide companionship and security to each other.

Gerbil Housing
As with any pet in the rodent family, they need to chew on chew sticks and toys to keep there teeth down, as they are constantly growing. Gerbils love to chew on things, almost like a hobby and will chew up just about anything that is put in their cage that isn’t metal. Cardboard toilet paper tubes make great additions for as a tunnel they can play with and chew on.

Because gerbils love to chew a glass tank with a vented screen top is better for the gerbil home than a plastic bar type of cage that they could chew through. Putting the gerbil home in a main room where they can be watched playing, and you can keep and eye out when kids are handling them is best. This also makes it easier to keep and eye on their food and water. They should not be placed directly in front of windows so that they are not in direct sunlight and don’t get too hot, or too cold. A bedroom is not typically a good location as they can be active though out various points in the night and will be rattling away with their wheel.

Gerbil Care
Unlike many other popular pets, gerbils typically don’t need regular vet care. The majority of responsibility with gerbils is keeping their areas clean which consists of cleaning out the shavings/bedding every week or two and replacing with new. Getting a gerbil ball is a good way to occupy the gerbil while cleaning out the cage, just make sure there is a secure area with no drops such as downward staircases. They need a small handful of gerbil food every day, and will also eat treats like carrots. They should have fresh water, and have fun things to interact with in their cages. A wheel is especially important as it provides exercise.

Gerbils are fun to watch, very  curios and always moving around their environment. They are also friendly and naturally enjoy being handled as long as they are handled with respect and calm. Rough handling may cause the gerbil to nip. As with all small pets its important to provide parental supervision when young children are handling them. Your gerbil should get plenty of human interaction as they can become less friendly if they are not handled over a long period of time, it is recommended to play with them at least once a week.

When traveling more than two or three days a pet sitter should check in on the gerbil to refill food and water.

Gerbils are domesticated pets that should not be let loose in to the wild and will not survive with out your care. Additionally, the concern of them becoming wild is considered a threat to agriculture in some states, and therefore they are illegal as pets in California.

Gerbils with Other Pets
While gerbils are friendly with people, they are not good with other pets as they are naturally territorial and will try to fight for their space. While the nature of their cage naturally keeps them away from other animals like dogs, if you have pets that can move around more like cats, make sure the cage is placed in a way that the cats aren’t likely to be able to access it. Make sure that when out of the cage, even in a gerbil ball, that the room is cleared of other animals.

Getting your Gerbil
Gerbils can be found at most pet stores, and also though pet hobbiest who breed them. Make sure your gerbil isn’t too old, as they only live 3 years or so, and is comfortable being handled. They should appear healthy in their coat, and be active (assuming their not taking a nap). Remember that gerbils are highly social and need a friend, it is easiest to get both at the same time from the same place so they are already familiar with each other. Just make sure they are the same gender unless you are looking to take care of gerbil babies.