Gerbils as Pets-Everything You Need to Know


Gerbils as Pets-Everything You Need to Know

Gerbils are these cute rodents that can fit in the palm of your hand and stay there content with the attention and grateful for the warmth and safety. They may look like rats but gerbils are a totally different species with their own character and style. Actually, they’ll get offended if you call them desert rats.

Gerbils make for the perfect pets for the whole family since they’re low maintenance, have a moderate temperament, and don’t require special food or care. They’re energetic and love to interact with humans, especially children. You can teach them tricks and spend hours watching them going about their daily lives without getting bored.

If you expected a ‘but’ coming along, you’re quite perceptive. As far as pets are concerned, there are no absolutes and caveats are the only constant in the dynamic realm of our furry friends. As it turns out, the world of gerbils is a complex one. Don’t be fooled by their tiny size. There’s more to them than meets the eye. Read on to find out about these fascinating animals.

Is a Gerbil a Good Pet for a Child?

Thanks to their docile nature, polite manner, and their willingness to socialize and bond with their humans, gerbils are a popular choice as pets for children. Parents love the small furry animals because they don’t cost much to buy and their upkeep is quite inexpensive.

Unlike aloof cats or goofy dogs, gerbils treat humans as equals. They respond to cuddling with affection and will recognize their owners without fail. Children can give the gerbil a name and it will respond to it. They’re also safe around children and rarely show any signs of hostility.

That said, we have to quickly add that gerbils aren’t entirely problem-free as pets. They still need to be fed and cleaned after on a regular basis. You can’t rely on your child to take care of them. So while your child will have all the fun, you’ll have to shoulder the responsibility of keeping the gerbil’s habitat clean and comfortable.

How Long Do Gerbils Live?

If you watch a gerbil play with a clothespin or get excited over a Lego block you throw at it, you’ll think these little animals live forever. After all, they always seem content and they appreciate the human company as only a few other species do.

But as you probably have gathered by now, nobody, not even the upbeat gerbils, makes it out alive. Sooner or later, calamity strikes and the ferry one kicks the bucket. It could be out of the blue or there might be some signs which we’ll get to later in more detail.

On average, you can expect your bubbly gerbil to keep you company for anything from 2 to 4 years. It’s not a long time, I know. But on the plus side, most gerbils look alike and you won’t have trouble replacing the dearly departed with another healthy gerbil and your child will be none the wiser.

Are Gerbils Friendly?

One a scale from one to ten with ten being the most sociable, gerbils are definitely a nine. That puts the cuddly critters on the same footing as the friendliest of dogs. If you want an animal that pays you back for all your feeding and caring with unlimited love and the occasional entertaining trick or two, gerbils are your best option.

Compared to cats, gerbils are Zen monks. They’re calm, cute, and appreciative. Touch a gerbil and he will wag his bushy tail at you, push his nose up and twitch at in your direction as a sign of recognition. They’re energetic and they know how to put on a good show for your amusement.

This friendliness makes them right for children of all ages. Which might come at a risk. Gerbils are tiny and fragile and since they don’t fight rough handling by a child, the way a cat does, they might get injured if the child isn’t careful.

Are Gerbils Easy to Take Care of?

Gerbils are easy to satisfy. They don’t require an expensive brand of food that they won’t eat anything else the way cats do, nor do they make a big mess the way an overactive dog does. Gerbils don’t demand much in the way of food, upkeep, cleaning, or entertainment.

They don’t eat much and we’ll get into their food and eating habits later. They don’t leave a mess that needs taking care of regularly either. They’re tiny animals living in their small worlds with little hopes, and an optimistic outlook.

They don’t drink much water, you can thank their desert habitat for that, which means less peeing. They’re clean animals who believe in high levels of hygiene so you won’t get any annoying odors from them.

Are Gerbils Rats?

Now that’s not the kind of question you’d want to ask in front of a gerbil. They might be upbeat and cheerful, but gerbils get offended if you call them rats or compare them to that species. For one thing, gerbils consider themselves not just a distinct species, but a high ranking one as far as the lowly rats are concerned.

They may look like rats, but the hairy tail on the gerbils should tell you that you’re looking at a royal rodent. Unlike rats that don’t mind living in sewers and eating garbage, gerbils hail from the desert where the air is clean and only the hardiest of animals can survive.

The bottom line is, gerbils are rodents and have over 100 subspecies, but they draw the line at any comparison, even a remote one, to the lowlife rats. A word to the wise, don’t make that rookie mistake. Always treat your gerbil like a royal prince who just missed his turn at the throne.

Do Gerbils Like Sand?

Sand becomes not just a plaything, but also a useful medium that helps you stay clean and maintain your hygiene.

Gerbils learned to use sand to bathe and keep their fur shiny. So if your gerbil looks like it could do with a good scrub, don’t give it a water bath. You’d be doing it a great disservice since water washes off the natural oil that protects its fur.

Instead, offer your furry friend, a bowl of sand and let it get to work. Soon he or she will be diving in the sand headfirst. You can watch too because gerbils aren’t shy about their bathtime. They will give a good show to all who care to come around for a peek.

Do Gerbils Recognize Their Owners?

Gerbils are smart and have acute senses that allow them to recognize the hand that feeds them, literally. When you approach your gerbil, it will raise its head, push its nose in the air and sniff you. That’s the first way they recognize you. By your smell.

They also listen to you talk and can distinguish your voice from any other human. And you can put this to the test. When you get closer to the gerbil it will show friendly signs and waits to be petted and cuddled. But when a stranger approaches them, they will stomp their feet and hide.

You can also teach your gerbil tricks the same way you’d do with a dog. They learning faculties are advanced enough and you’ll find many ways to interact with them and create a strong bond.

Are Gerbils Smelly?

Gerbils have been adapted to living in arid deserts where food is scarce and water is hard to come by. As a result, they evolved into these efficient animals that absorb everything they consume and never waste anything. What this means for you is fewer droppings and even less peeing.

These are the main causes of smelly animals. And since gerbils don’t perspire much (sweating would be a waste of precious body fluids in the desert) their bodies are always dry and odorless. Of course, frequent sand baths contribute to this high level of cleanliness.

If an unpleasant odor wafts toward you from their direction, it’s probably your fault. Just make sure you clean and change their bedding regularly and offer them fresh sand to keep them healthy and satisfied.

Why Does My Gerbil Squeak When I Pick It up?

They’re scared, so they squeak. They’re excited to see you, and they’ll show it with a few high pitched squeaks. A child is running around the house and making a lot of noise will draw squeaks from your gerbil.

Gerbils also squeak when they argue with each other. It’s like the trash talk wrestlers and boxers engage in before a fight. But when you pick up a gerbil and it squeaks it can be either of two things.

  • The gerbil isn’t used to you yet and your smell doesn’t register on their radar as a friendly. So just put it down and let it get to know you better. It will come around after dinner and a movie.
  • Your gerbil is just happy to see you and is announcing it to all who care to listen that its human is home and giving it some scritches. Go ahead and pet it, it wants more.

What Do Gerbils Like Eating?

Our desert friends are kind of low-maintenance. Think of your gerbil as a girlfriend that doesn’t insist on a dinner at a fancy restaurant every time you want to take her out. Rather, they’re happy to eat whatever you’re eating with more focus on vegetables and fruit.

The good news is, you won’t need to set aside a budget for pricey pet food. Gerbils will chew anything you throw at them. Carrots, pumpkins, cucumbers are a favorite of theirs. And you can also drop in the odd slice of watermelon, pear, apple, or orange.

Seeds feature high on their list of favorite foods and you can add in a few herbs and bulbs to keep them well fed. Some commercial pellets are also available if you can’t get your hands on fresh veggies and fruits.

Do Gerbils Carry Diseases?

All pets are potential disease carriers. Dogs, cats, and gerbils have millions of germs on their fur, paws, and mouths at any given time. In addition to these common germs, wild animals tend to carry several strains of viruses that can cause serious illnesses.

Some of these diseases are quite rare although you should never write them off altogether. It’s always a good idea to take your gerbil to the vet if it doesn’t look well or behaves abnormally. Diseases such as rat-bite fever, leptospirosis, salmonellosis, lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV) and monkeypox can be transmitted from gerbils to humans.

Keeping your gerbilarium and your pets clean and well-fed are good precautions against the spread of contagious diseases. A quick visit to the vet will put your mind at ease and ensure your gerbil will live long and prosper.

Do Gerbils Have Rabies?

Unfortunately, rabies is still a threat to society and gerbils carry the disease. However, it’s wild gerbils we’re talking about. Not the one you get at the animal care center. So if you see a feral gerbil don’t approach it or try to take it home.

Certain states such as Hawaii ban gerbils altogether. This means you can’t even raise them as pets or even support animals. This might be a good opportunity to check your local Department of Agriculture to see if gerbils are allowed or not.

Regular checks and vaccinations will protect you and your family from any serious diseases that the pets might carry. If your gerbil is sick, take it to an animal shelter or call them to come and collect it.

Can Gerbils be Kept Alone?

Kept Alone

Keeping a gerbil on its own in the gerbilarium would be like solitary confinement. Gerbils are sociable animals and they love a good company. To avoid fighting and possible a breeding problem, you can stick to gerbils of the same sex.

A group of 2 gerbils is a good start. Since they’re not expensive, you can easily get three male or female gerbils and keep them together. They’ll have slumber parties quite often and purr and squeak and have a generally good time of it.

A lone gerbil will not survive for long and will get depressed very quickly. So make sure your gerbils come in a group and don’t keep unfamiliar adult gerbils together since that can start fights.

Are Gerbil Bites Dangerous?

It depends on how well you know the gerbil. If it’s your own gerbil and you’ve known each other for years then it’s probably nothing serious. As long as you take the gerbil to the vet for regular check-ups then you have nothing to worry about.

If the bite punctured your skin and made a deep cut then you should seek medical assistance immediately. Regardless of how healthy the gerbil is, the animal’s teeth often carry millions of germs which could cause serious harm.

In general, it’s children who get bitten more often. Either they handle the gerbil in a rough way or they tease it or interfere with its eating or sleeping habits.

Do Gerbils Climb?

Gerbils are excellent climbers as long as they get something to hold on to as they climb. Even vertical surfaces will not get in their way. However, they struggle to scale a smooth surface, especially those made of plastic.

If you place your gerbil in a cage without a roof, it will easily escape and make it out the door before you even realize it. Bars and slopes will not keep them down. So make sure your cage or gerbilarium is secure and tight.

If a gerbil goes outside, it will climb a tree faster than a squirrel and be out of sight in a flash. Most likely never to be seen again by friendly eyes.

How Often Do I Clean Gerbil Cages?

Your gerbil cages are their home, gym, playground, bedroom, and bathroom all rolled in one. The more gerbils you have the more likely you’ll get more odors out of them. Whether the smell bothers you or not, hygiene should be your no. 1 priority.

For a medium-size cage or gerbilarium that houses a couple of gerbils, you won’t have to clean it more than once a week. More gerbils mean more droppings and consequently more cleaning and maintenance. Twice a week should do fine for a group of 4-5 gerbils in a large cage. If you have a brood, then roll up your sleeves and get ready to clean after them every other day.

What Human Foods Can Gerbils Eat?

If you ever had a cat you probably remember how hard it was to convince it to eat a cheap brand cat food. Cats are finicky and expect you to provide only the best food for them. Gerbils are not like that. They’re down to earth and don’t ask for much.

You can feed them fresh veggies and fruits. The juicier the better. Gerbils love bulbs and veggies full of juices since they satisfy the gerbil’s need to drink water. You can also give them mixed seeds, pellets of dried fruits and vegetables.

Nuts, cereals, raisins, currants, and tiny pieces of cheese are also treats that gerbils relish on occasion.

Do Gerbils Like Humans?

The love affair between gerbils and humans is a fairly recent one. In the old days, humans living in the desert looked at gerbils a little bit differently than how we see them today. Back then gerbils were on the menu and were considered a delicacy. So you can imagine that there was a little distrust between the two species.

People’s fondness for gerbils as pets not snacks still hasn’t erased the memory of the barbecued rodents from the memory of the gerbil nations. That doesn’t mean that gerbils harbor any animosity toward our bipedal species. They still like us but it takes time for the gerbil to accept that you are only seeking its companionship.

Are Gerbils Affectionate to Humans?

Gerbils and cats have a few things in common. They’re both cute, love to cuddle, and they purr. When your gerbil gets used to you and considers you one of the family, it will greet you with sounds and gestures that tell you how much he likes you.

Carry the gerbil in your hand and it immediately starts vibrating like a smartphone. It didn’t receive an email, it’s just purring. Because of its tiny size, the purring revibrates inside its body. Bring it close to your ear and you can hear the soft sounds of content. Gerbils take time to warm up to you so be patient.

Do Gerbils Need Baths?

Unless you’re a sea critter who lives in water, chances are you need to bathe regularly. This includes gerbils as well. But gerbils don’t need water to take a bath. They prefer sand. It’s a throwback to their days in the wilderness when sand was all they had.

To draw a gerbil bath all you need is a bowl and some clean sand. Place the bowl full of sand in the cage or gerbilarium and wait for the gerbil to take the hint. Gerbils are not overly sensitive animals and once they see the sand they won’t need an invitation. Of course, they don’t get naked or anything so it’s OK to look.

Can Gerbils Learn Their Names?

Gerbils are smart animals with good cognitive abilities. You can teach a gerbil simple tricks and it will only be happy to perform them as long as the incentive of a treat is dangled in front of them. Just like a dog, you can teach a gerbil to respond to you by name.

Keep repeating the name as you play with the gerbil. Soon it will learn to associate the name with itself. Use a nice, one-syllable name for each gerbil. Methuselah, for example, is out of the question and so is Pythagoras. You can’t tell what name your gerbil has chosen for you, so better stick to safe names.

Do Gerbils Need a Wheel?

As a wild animal, gerbils are used to running around and chasing each other for sport. Sometimes the running was a necessity like when they were escaping a fox or hiding from an owl. So when you lock a gerbil in a cage, it tends to miss the freedom of the wilderness owls and all.

To help your gerbil stay in shape, bring it a wheel. It will ride it day and night just the way a hamster does. However, be careful not to use a hamster wheel. These are too large for the gerbils and could cause injuries. A sprained paw isn’t unheard of nor is a twisted tail. Gerbils have their own small wheels that are safe to use.

Do Gerbils Need Sunlight?

The short answer is no. Gerbils are nocturnal animals that are rarely seen above the surface during the daytime. It’s a survival necessity. Most of the gerbil predators roam the skies and the land during the day. So gerbils have no need for sunlight.

When you prepare the cage or gerbilarium, make sure it isn’t exposed to direct sunlight. Also, keep them away from sources of heat such as radiators. A constant temperature in the early 20s is good enough for them. Gerbils dig burrows and spend the day sleeping, so the sun will only disturb their slumber and give them bad dreams.

What Age Can Gerbils get Pregnant?

Gerbils love to breed. It’s their weapon of choice against the onslaught of predators and in-fighting. It’s something they have in common with rabbits. So if you have no intention of filling your place with squeaking gerbils, make sure to keep both sexes separate.

Gerbils adhere to the code of monogamy and pairs mate for life. Once they reach 3 months old, both the male and female gerbils are ready to rumble. You’ll hear a lot of chasing around and gerbils shamelessly checking their underside. A female gerbil gives birth after 24 days. The proud parents will have a litter of 8 babies at a time.

Do Gerbils Like to be Held?

If gerbils are like rabbits in their breeding capacity, they also borrow another feature from dogs. That is their fondness for being touched and held. Pick up your gerbil and it rests in your palm as if that’s its natural habitat.

But that’s where the similarity stops. Gerbils are small and fragile compared to dogs that have a thick and protective hide. So you need to be careful when holding gerbils. Try not to squeeze them or use your nails on their skin.

Children, in particular, are prone to be bitten by gerbils mainly because they might hurt the gerbil while holding it. So teach your child to carry the gerbil gently in his/her open hands and never clamp their fingers on it.

Why Does My Gerbil Stare at me?

It’s love, maybe. When the gerbil stands relaxed on its hind legs with its arms by its side and makes eye contact with you, that means it’s totally comfortable with your presence and is happy to see you. Go ahead and pet it or give it a few scritches. They love the intimacy of a hearty scratch.

Gerbils have small but expressive eyes. With time you’ll begin to understand the difference between a doe-eyed look and one that implies fear, a threat, or anger. They might accompany the look with other physical gestures such as stomping of the feet or sharp squeaks. In which case you’d better make yourself scarce because they’re about to attack.

Can Gerbils Understand Humans?

If you’re hoping to train your gerbil to understand the intricacies of the human language so that one day you can have a regular conversation, you’ll be greatly disappointed. Gerbils have no more use for language than humans need tails.

However, recent studies revealed the startling discovery that gerbils can distinguish between sounds. Especially vowel sounds. Scientists used words with prominent vowel sounds such as “oo” and “ee” to name different cups. They put food in only one cup and when they told the gerbils the name of that cup, the clever rodent went straight for it.

So there might be hope yet for your gerbil to know what you’re talking about. For now though, it will be content to stare at you and nod while it considers whether it needs to add another hole to its burrow.

Can Gerbils See Color?

Gerbils are fascinating animals. The more time you spend with them the more you realize these are no ordinary rodents. And one of the amazing facts about gerbils is that they can see in color. Their vision during the day is bright and sharp and full of colors.

But that’s not all. They can even see UV light. Now gerbils as we all know are most active during dawn and dusk. During the day they hide from their predators. So their night vision is usually colorless and blurred. They usually rely on other senses such as hearing and smell to guide them during those times when the light is scarce.

Can Gerbils See in the Dark?

We already touched on that in the previous section, but there’s no harm on elaborating on this interesting topic. Gerbils have night vision but it’s not sharp enough to see the veins on a cucumber. Which really doesn’t matter to the animal. What matters is, it found cucumber for dinner.

A gerbil can still see in the dark and detect threats. Some of its sworn enemies are nocturnal, so it needs to spot an owl swooping in to make a quick meal out of it. When its blurry eyes fall short, the gerbil will use its ears and twitchy nose to keep it safe at night.

Why Do Gerbils Purr?

Gerbils purr like cats. It’s one of their most endearing qualities. Gerbils purr for the same reasons a cat purrs. They’re happy, content, feeling safe and all warm and fuzzy inside. Gently scoop your gerbil and let it rest in your palm for a bit and soon it will start purring.

You’ll have to get your ear close enough to its mouth to hear the soothing sound though. Although you can feel the vibrations as they course its whole body. If your gerbil purrs near you, it’s a sign that it trusts you and your relationship is going well.

How Often Do Gerbils Poop?

Once a day usually. We mentioned that as desert animals, gerbils don’t drink water much and rely on their juicy food for hydration. This is a good feature since it means that they urinate less than other pets.

Cleaning the gerbil’s cage should be one of your routines. It ensures the gerbils are healthy and happy. You can either do spot cleaning, i.e. clean only the areas in the gerbilarium where you find droppings, or give the whole bedding a thorough cleaning.

Are My Gerbils Fighting or Playing?

The distinction between playing and fighting gerbils aren’t clear for the untrained eye. If you’re new to the gerbils world, you’ll probably panic the first time you see two gerbils engaged in a boxing match. But there’s no need for alarm. Boxing and wrestling are popular gerbil sports that they partake in on a regular basis.

It’s when the teeth are bared and the chasing starts, that you need to get worried. When gerbils fight they resort to vicious biting. They’ll chase each other for hours relentlessly. Your best course of action is to put the fighting parties in separate cages. And keep the cages in different rooms so that they can’t see each other.

Are Gerbils Noisy at Night?

Their waking hours are full of sound and fury. That’s the life of a gerbil. Since they only sleep about 6 hours at night, that means your night will be a raucous one. Squeaking, chirping, and clicking are only a part of it. They can start chasing each other or hold a boxing competition on short notice right when you’re getting into bed.

To keep them quiet, you can give them plenty of exercise before bedtime. Wheels and paper shredding are good exercises. You can also hide food in their tunnels so they’ll spend time looking for it which is less noisy than a boxing game in the middle of the night.

Why Do My Gerbils Sleep So Much?

Gerbils sleep about 12 hours every day. They split this number evenly between the day and night times. Of course that’s nothing compared to a cat that sleeps most of the day and only wakes up at night to go hunting for birds and other small animals.

Gerbils are most active by the end of the day and in the wee hours of the morning. This is why you think they sleep a lot. During the day they hide in their tunnels away from prying eyes, and at night they sleep to avoid nocturnal predators. It’s not easy, the life of a gerbil.

Why Does My Gerbil Tap its Feet?

Besides their chirping, clicking, and squeaking, gerbils rely on other forms of communication to relay urgent messages to their fellow gerbils. One of these is tapping their feet. Gerbils might tap or stomp their feet for one of the following reasons:

  • Alerting other gerbils about an impending threat.
  • The gerbil is surprised or saw something it didn’t expect such as a leering human or a curious dog.
  • The adult gerbil is in the mood for love and is inviting a mate back to its cozy burrow.
  • Young gerbils practicing the ways of the gerbils. There’s no threat or love in the air. It’s just training.

How Do I Know if My Gerbils are Mating?

If you’re worried that the couple of gerbils you got recently to start your gerbil colony are not paying as much attention to preserving their species as they are to food and digging, you need to pay close attention to their behavior. Be discreet about it and watch for the following signs

  • The male gerbil is stomping its feet. That’s the love call in the gerbil lingo.
  • The male is rubbing itself against the cage. He’s not feeling itchy. He’s spreading his pheromones to attract the attention of the coy female.
  • Adult males might start boxing to show off their virility and prowess.
  • When a female gerbil chooses a male, she will let him know by running in front of him.
  • In the early evening, the love fest starts.

How Many Times Do You Feed a Gerbil a Day?

You should feed your gerbil its regular pellets of seeds and grass mixture about once a day. Place the food high in the cage so that it stays clean. You can also add a mixture of crickets or other insects-based food to the diet to give the gerbil its need of proteins.

Leafy green veggies should be offered once a day as well. In addition, you can drop in a dog bone in the cage. Whenever the gerbil gets a little hungry, it will chew on the bone. Other treats include sunflower seeds, and small pieces of fruits such as watermelons and apples.

Why Does My Gerbil Have Diarrhea?

There are two reasons for that. Either your gerbil ate something that doesn’t agree with it, or it might have a serious disease. Foods that give gerbils diarrhea include food that it normally wouldn’t eat. We’re talking about large amounts of watermelon, apples, pears, or other juicy fruits.

Diarrhea could also mean the gerbil has Tyzzer’s disease. Unfortunately, it’s a very serious illness and can be fatal. So it’s better you check with a vet as soon as possible. Always keep the gerbils bedding clean and avoid feeding it juicy fruits or veggies in large portions.

Can Gerbils Have Toilet Paper?

Gerbils lead a simple life full of simple pleasures. One of their most favorite pastimes is to chew on things. Whatever you throw in the cage will be sniffed, tested, and eventually chewed raw. So when you offer gerbils toilet paper, they’ll give it the gerbil treatment.

Many people used toilet paper as bedding for the furry-tailed rodents, and gerbils love it. It’s soft, easy to tear, and tastes good too. It won’t harm them unless the toilet paper has fragrant. Stick to the non-fragrant paper and it will not give them any health trouble.

Will Gerbils Kill Each Other?

Gerbils are wild animals. This simple fact seems to elude many people. So when you get a few gerbils and place them in a gerbilarium, you can expect rivalries to rear their ugly heads and fights to start at the smallest of provocations.

Adult gerbils fight over everything. Girls, food, or the best pad in the cage. When they fight, these cute animals turn vicious and yes it can be lethal as well. They use their teeth to inflict pain and injury on the opponent and animosity runs deep especially among male adults. To prevent fights, separate the rivals and place them in different cages where they can’t lay eyes on each other.

Can You Use Sand for Gerbil Bedding?

Gerbils need a comfortable bedding that can absorb their urine, be gentle on their tender paws, and break their fall when they jump. You can use many materials for bedding such as hay, paper, aspen shavings and many others.

Sand is mainly used by gerbils to have a bath. It is the closest to the gerbil’s natural environment in the desert and they love to dig tunnels in the sand. However, as the owner whose duty it is to clean and maintain a healthy and safe gerbilarium, sand is high-maintenance. Changing sand isn’t easy and sand tunnels are prone to collapsing which leaves your gerbils disappointed in your life choices.

What is Poisonous to Gerbils?

As much as you can, try to stick to natural food that gerbils would find and consume in their original habitat. Since they live in the desert, then chances they might find cakes or chocolate just lying around are remote.

While gerbils are omnivores that can feed on veggies and fruits as well as animal protein, that doesn’t put them on the same footing as humans as far as food and the digestive system are concerned. So even though they might chomp happily on any junk food you throw in their cage, that doesn’t mean it is good for them. Many of the processed foods you eat everyday are lethal to gerbils.

Do Gerbils Need Light at Night?

No. Light at night will only disturb their day night cycle and give them nightmares. If you leave the light on in the room at night, you’ll encourage them to get up and start one of their famous boxing or wrestling matches. These are usually noisy and will definitely keep you from sleep.

Some people argue the benefits of ambient light, but I’m not in favor of them. I prefer to keep my gerbils’ life as close to their natural environment as possible. Since the desert is mostly dark at night except for the nights of full moon, that’s how gerbils like their nights, dark and safe.

Are Boy or Girl Gerbils Better?

As a general rule, the gender of the gerbil doesn’t impact their behavior. As long as you don’t mix sexes, you’ll be fine. Just keep in mind that the younger you get your gerbils, the better. When raised from a young age, gerbils tend to be docile and friendly.

What creates problems though, are groups of mixed gender. When males and females get together in the same gerbilarium, hormones kick in and fights start. So pick your gerbils of the same sex and they’ll get along fine. They don’t look very different, males and female gerbils, so there really is no advantage in picking one gender over the other.

What are the Signs of a Gerbil Dying?

Like many other wild animals, when it’s time for the gerbil to shed its mortal coil, it will exhibit certain signs that you should be aware of. These are:

  • A dying gerbil will hide in its hole and rarely come up to eat or exercise.
  • Wet eyes and nose. If you notice your gerbil have a runny nose or eyes it might mean it’s very sick.
  • As we mentioned, it might be a symptom of a serious and fatal disease.
  • A healthy gerbil has a sleek and glossy fur. If it develops bald patches, it could be a bad sign.

At What Age are Gerbils Fully Grown?

Gerbils are like humans in that they tend to grow during their formative age and once they have reached maturity, their growth slows down. The average age for gerbils to become mature is 3 months. Some gerbils might race to puberty much faster becoming eligible to mate and have babies at the tender age of 2.5 months.

After they reach the legal age to mate, gerbils don’t stop growing. But usually their growth is more toward girth than bone structure or length. Eating habits are to blame for gerbil obesity. If your gerbil stares at you wistfully as it rubs its pot belly, it’s time to hold back on the food and give it some toilet paper to shred.

Do Gerbils Talk to Each Other?

All social animals have a common tongue to communicate and keep their interactions interesting and lively. Gerbils have their own language and coded signs that help them stay one step of their many predators.

Chirping, purring, squeaking, and clicking are some of the ways gerbils talk to each other. While the very meaning of each one of these signs haven’t been fully studied and decoded yet, we can safely assume that gerbils do have a basic form of a language. Their body language is also quite varied and eloquent which you will get to master after spending some time with them.

Do Gerbils Die Easily?

Death comes in many ways to gerbils. It can be sudden and quick as the one caused by a stroke or a heart attack, or it might be prolonged and painful as the one triggered by a disease. Whatever the cause, gerbils don’t last long. Within 2 to 3 years of their brief sojourn, they will bid us farewell, kiss the kids if they have any, and shuffle off.

Beware of shocks or surprises since they might give them a seizure. Don’t creep up on gerbils and make your presence known well before you enter the room. This is especially true of new gerbils that haven’t got used to you or the place yet.

What Food Kills Gerbils?

We, humans, have a nasty habit of feeding our pets some of the food we poison ourselves with every day. Whatever snack we’re stuffing our faces, we can’t resist the temptation to share with our dogs, cats, or gerbils.

Dogs and cats have a more evolved digestive systems but the poor gerbils can’t stand foods as lettuce, citrus fruit, cabbage, meat, biscuits, or sweets.  In addition, avoid giving them any processed food, or complex foods such as cakes or crisps.

Can Gerbils Eat Roaches?

Gerbils love natural food. Their diet extends beyond the vegan diet. Once in a while they wouldn’t mind sampling the odd cricket or a roach that lost its way and stumbled into one of their holes.

But it’s not just crickets and roaches. Gerbils love to catch their insect and eat it live. Beetles and larvae are a favorite of theirs as well as a wide variety of worms and locusts. In general, try not to feed your gerbils insects you find in your yard since they might be contaminated with pesticides. Give them one or two packaged insects a day.

Is Chocolate Bad for Gerbils?

Chocolate is one of those treats that you should never give your gerbil. Chocolates are full of fat and sugar, neither of those are good for gerbils. Even a little nibble can be fatal to a healthy gerbil.

If you want to give your gerbil a treat, feed it a dead cricket or a locust. Or you can give it a bone to chew on whenever it needs some animal protein. Neither fat nor sugar should be used as treats. When in doubt, ask yourself if that’s the kind of food a gerbil will normally find in the desert.

Can Gerbils Eat Peanut Butter?

Peanut butter is made of peanuts which are perfectly safe for gerbils. If you drop a few peanuts in the cage, the gerbils will be all over them in seconds. Peanuts have vitamins E and C which are good antioxidants. Peanuts also improve the good cholesterol levels and reduce bad cholesterol.

But the fact that gerbils can eat peanut butter doesn’t mean you should dish it out to them every day. They will quickly gain weight and get addicted to the fatty stuff. Give them little amounts once a week to keep them healthy, chirping, and full of energy.

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