Basic Gerbil Care

Gerbils can be very affectionate and lots of fun. We'll tell you everything you need to know about keeping a gerbil as a pet.
Basic Gerbil Care

Last update: 04 January, 2020

The gerbil is a rodent belonging to the Muridae family. Their hind legs are more developed than their front ones, which makes them very agile. Are you thinking about getting one as a pet? In this article, we’ll you everything you need to know about basic gerbil care.

How to get a gerbil

There are a number of things you should consider if you’re thinking about getting a gerbil as a pet:

  • Buy from a breeder. We’d love to use the word ‘adopt’ here, but you’re unlikely to find a gerbil in a shelter or refuge. However, you should make sure you go to a breeder who can easily identify both the gerbil’s gender and behavior.
  • Look for the healthiest and friendliest. A healthy gerbil should have a tail as long as its body and should be covered in hair. Their eyes should be wide open and bright. To find out whether they’re friendly, see if they approach the glass and tries to nibble when they see you. This is their way of knowing their surroundings.
  • Don’t buy just one. Although they are very territorial, they’re also very sociable. If kept alone, they will become depressed and could even die. So, if you’re thinking about getting one, get at least two. If you don’t want to end up with lots of gerbil babies, choose two of the same sex. A breeder should be able to help you identify what sex they are without any problems.
  • Try to make sure that they get along. Being the same sex and sharing the same territory, it won’t be easy for them to always get along with each other. It’s best for them to be from the same litter and to be at least 6 to 8 weeks old. You’ll need to keep them apart for a while whilst they adapt to each other.

Basic gerbil care

Once you’ve got your gerbil or gerbils, it’s time to find out how to care for them. Here is a list of the things you need to know about basic gerbil care:

  1. Diet. Gerbils need a complete diet of vitamins, proteins, fats, and vegetables. It’s best to buy some food made especially for them as it will contain all the nutrients they need. However, if you want, you can add treats or natural foods such as fruit or vegetables. You won’t need a feeder; you can simply spread the food around their cage.
  2. Water bottles. Don’t forget that gerbils, just like any other animal, need water to survive. Use a water bottle with a metal spout. If it’s plastic, they might try to eat it and the plastic could damage their stomach.
  3. Make a bed for them. It’s best to use a wooden box full of shredding paper and a blanket for them to feel most comfortable.
  4. Clean the cage regularly. Gerbils like to live in clean conditions, so clean their cage often.
  5. Don’t forget exercise. Whilst they’re naturally active, it never hurts to help them play and get some exercise. They love to dig, but something extra will always be well received.
  6. Be patient. When you bring a gerbil home for the first time, they probably won’t be too friendly. But this is just because they feel lost. Try not to force things. Give them time and be patient.
  7. Interact with them. A happy gerbil is one that interacts with its owner every day. This way you’ll live together much more happily and peacefully. Never lift them by the tail.

As you can see, this small animal can make an ideal pet and give you lots of love and fun. Pay attention to the advice above and enjoy having a gerbil in your life!

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The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.