Gerbils are a subfamily of rates. With approximately 110 kinds of gerbils, not all of them are kept as pets. The most common species of gerbil kept as a pet is a Mongolian gerbil.
From Mongolia, these gerbils were first brought to the U.S. for research purposes. All the pet gerbils in America are descended from the original gerbils. And some pets were also brought to Britain and other western countries as pets.
They live about 2 to 4 years. If you treat and care for them well, they will live up to 5 to 6 years.
Origin of the Gerbil
The Mongolian gerbil evolved as a unique species in Mongolia, East Asia. They live in the regions of grassland steppe (large grassland plain without trees), which comprises approximately 11.2% of the total land area. This kind of land is found in Mongolia, among other places.
Physical Structure of a Gerbil
The length of the gerbils depends upon the species. They will grow nearly 11 centimeters to 4 inches in adults. The gerbil weighs from 58 grams to 135 grams. Male gerbils will always weigh more than females. Because of their size, gerbils are considered low maintenance.
They have long tails that they are able to shed. Their tail allows them to escape from their predators. Their tails also help them to balance when they stand on their hind legs.
They have sharp claws. These claws help the gerbils for burrowing into desert sand to escape from their predators by quickly disappearing under the sand.
A Healthy Diet for Gerbils
You need to provide them the following
- The variety of greens
- Fruits like pear, melon, apple, oranges
- Vegetables like cucumber, carrot, pumpkin, and fennel
- Seeds of various grass
- A range of leaves and herbs.
How much food should a Gerbils consume?
Provide them one teaspoon of fruits and vegetables twice a week. Do NOT overfeed, this will lead to an upset stomach.
The gerbils need fresh clean water. The gravity-fed water drip will make your gerbil pets more healthy.
Gerbils make most of their vitamin needs internally (that they can eat a variety of foods without experiencing malnutrition). They also have low water needs.
Predators of Gerbils
Gerbils do not have many predators, but they are usually birds and snakes.
Weather conditions for Gerbils
There are extreme temperature changes in their natural habitats, and it affects the behavior of the Mongolian gerbils. Because it is similar to a desert, the steppes have colder nights and hotter days than other geographical locations.
Friendly Nature of Gerbils
Yes, they are friendly by nature! They are socialistic animals. Leaving them alone makes them depressed and unhealthy, overweight, and have less lifespan. If you’re planning to adopt gerbils, you need to adopt two male gerbils or two female gerbils from the same family. This will help to the bond between them.
Do Mongolian Gerbils make good pets?
Gerbils are good pets for both adults and children. Caring for them is not a big deal; their friendly demeanor makes it easy to tame them.
Enclosure for Gerbils
Gerbils are easy to adapt to indoor living. This makes them very easy to care for. They do not need much room or sunlight. Their cage must have a large wire mesh cage with a solid base. The colorful plastic cages will attract your gerbil pets but they are difficult to clean.
You need to place the following in your gerbil pet’s cage
- Nonwood-based bedding (straw or shredded white paper, chew toys, and an exercise wheel).
- Wooden ladders and toilet paper rolls (they make great toys for your gerbil pets).
- Use only solid exercise wheels for gerbil pets. Because their long tails can become entangled in the wire wheels.
Behavior of Gerbils
- Most gerbils are diurnal (active during the daytime), though pet gerbils are often more nocturnal (active during the nighttime). They are gentle, social and enjoy the companionship of other gerbils. But you need to house only same-gender pairs together.
- Gerbils are highly clean animals. And they continually groom themselves. They should be given a dust bath at least once a week. The dust will absorb oils from their skin. And results in a good health.
- Your gerbil pets do not bite much. They bite very rarely since they are non-aggressive pets.
- Gerbils are more curious than scared. If there is any noise around them, they do not run away. Instead, they stand up wanting to know what is going on.
A disease that affects Gerbils
- They can carry some diseases like rabies, tyzzer, diarrhea, melena and etc. If you care for them well, there are no chances to have diseases like these.
- Do not let your gerbil pet get too cold. Because they will go into hibernation.
- You need to adopt the gerbil pets from a shelter or rescue agency. Because the gerbils from the pet store are not much healthy.
You have to consult their veterinarian when their condition is too critical.
It is extremely important to dedicate time to handling your pet gerbil. It takes time to make them understand that you intend no harm. Allow your gerbil to gradually build their confidence, and support them in every activity.
You need to have knowledge on how to handle and care for them even if they are easy to maintain. If you keep them healthy and happy, they will automatically create a good bond with you.