A gerbil’s lifespan depends on its species, genetics, and the care it receives. But when the captive gerbils are compared to the wild gerbils, pet gerbils live for a long time (2-4 years). Other species like fat-tailed gerbils may live longer.
A Gerbil’s Lifespan as Pets
Mongolian gerbils are commonly kept as pets. They can live anywhere between 2-4 years, but with proper care, they may extend to 5 or even 7. Take note that in both scenarios, the care you offer your gerbil directly affects how long they live to be.
The oldest ever, gerbil, lived to eight years and four months old. This can be extended up to 12 years (not scientifically verified).
Why do gerbils die suddenly?
Sudden deaths are usually due to a stroke or other heart disease. Experiencing shock or fighting that causes pain kills them, as well. If your gerbil dies suddenly, remove them from the enclosure, get rid of the bedding, and clean everything using an antibacterial spray.
Can gerbils live alone after their companion(/s) dies?
They can, but they may get sick and depressed. Do your best to bring new companions to avoid being the only one left from being lonely.
How to know if your Gerbil is Old
Gerbils who reach 2 ½ years usually begin to show signs of aging. Older gerbils have less energy and are less active. The younger gerbils will be strong and active.
Closely monitor your gerbil after two years. If there are any sudden weight changes, consult their veterinarian. On the other hand, the gain may indicate a tumor, and weight loss could suggest a problem with their teeth.
A Gerbil’s Teeth and Lifespan
Healthy grown teeth are one of the easiest ways to prevent any sort of threat to your gerbil’s health. Their teeth never stop growing. In the wild, their teeth will get trimmed by breaking the tough seed and eating fibrous grasses; so in captivity, the gerbil pets will have the urge to chew, and it is your responsibility to provide the necessary food or things, so their teeth get trimmed.
Overgrown teeth (excessive length) give your gerbils problems in relation to eating, and this may lead to malnutrition. Ensure this does not happen by seeing to it that their teeth get trimmed.
You need to provide your gerbil with safe toys to make them happy, engage in their surroundings, and help wear down their teeth.
Factors that Affect a Gerbil’s Life Expectancy
- Nutrition is the main factor in a gerbil’s health. Their healthy diet partnered with good oral conditions heavily influences a gerbils’ life expectancy.
- Always monitor your food consumption with respect to their age.
- Closely monitor their weight and teeth to lengthen their lifespan.
- Ensure they have a safe and clean environment, as this is the first place they may catch an illness.
Lifespan in Relation to Social Contact
Gerbils are social animals that inter-species contact. They should have a companion or should be involved in small groups. Gerbils that are raised alone experience depression and may even get sick from loneliness. This may lead to a shorter lifespan.
A healthy diet is important in prolonging your gerbil’s life. A well-balanced diet will keep your gerbil healthy and will prevent the development of diseases in them. Their balanced foods are:
- Dry food like a mix or pellets
- The occasional treat is like grains, nuts, and seeds.
Increasing your gerbil’s lifespan
Captive gerbils usually live longer, and you have to educate yourself if you want to raise them this way:
- Get your gerbil from a reputable breeder or pet store.
- Keep gerbils in pairs or in a group.
- Clean their cage regularly and thoroughly. The dirt in the cage may not give your gerbil pet to have a healthy life.
- Provide them a large enough enclosure in a safe place.
- Provide them with some toys and accessories in their cage to prevent stress.
- Use a reputable breeder
- Isolate new gerbils until you are sure they are healthy
- Feed a complete gerbil food suitable for their age with a well-balanced diet and avoid high-sugar foods and treats
- Handle your gerbils regularly (but gently!)
- Tame them while they are young
- Monitor the teeth and weight of gerbils over two years old
- Find an experienced veterinarian to consult promptly if your gerbil is sick or injured.
- Handle your gerbil in the proper way and let them come to you.
- Do not grab your gerbil pet’s tail. This may cause a defense mechanism and tail loss.
- Keep monitoring their weight after they reach two years just to notice signs of health issues.
Health Problems that Shorten their Lifespan
Gerbils can acquire health problems that lead to a shorter lifespan. These problems, fortunately, can be avoided:
- Dental problems
- Skin problems
- Tail loss
- Gastrointestinal problems
If you notice these problems, consult their veterinarian. To ensure you won’t encounter heavy emergencies, it is best to have a regular annual check-up instead of waiting for a symptom to show.
Health Risks in Relation to Age
Mongolian gerbils have a higher risk of getting specific health issues at a certain age, like:
- Neoplasia: uncontrolled and abnormal growth of the cells that lead to the development of a tumor. This tumor is also called a “neoplasm.” There is a 25% to 45% chance of having neoplasia in gerbil pets older than two years. These tumors will affect the skin, kidneys, glands, and female reproductive organs.
- Chronic glomerulonephropathy: a kidney disease that increases thirst, weight loss, and urine production. This disease will come with a tumor.
- Aural cholesteatoma: an expanding growth in the ear that harms their inner ear and bone necrosis. The gerbils are having a 50% of the chances to have Aural cholesteatoma after two years.
On average, gerbils may live 3-7 years, depending on their species. There are things you can control to lengthen their lifespan; the main responsibility is to avoid negligence as a gerbil owner. Ensure they aren’t sick by taking them to their veterinarian. Provide them a balanced diet, a good lifestyle, and healthy teeth, and you can maximize their chance of living a long and happy life.