Are gerbils friendly? Correctly handled, the answer is yes. But a gerbil that has been mishandled by humans (even ones that are well meaning and might not realize they are stressing these sensitive rodents) can be antisocial and deliver a painful bite if you ignore their behavior cues.
Are gerbils good pets for beginners?
Gerbils are not good pets for beginners. Although they look cute and cuddly and can be a great deal of fun to watch and might even eventually enjoy being held, they are sensitive, delicate creatures whose instincts are to run or hide. Furthermore, they do best when housed with a buddy, but unless you want to raise gerbils you need to have either two girls or two boys. Male neutering is an option but should only be done by a small animal specialist.
How are gerbils as pets?
Gerbils are a good choice for adults or for a family living in an apartment where regulations will not allow a cat or dog. An adult should be either be responsible for their daily care or closely supervise it. Gerbils need daily attention to make sure they have food and water, and that their bathroom area is cleaned. They are extremely sensitive to scents and need to have some of their least soiled old bedding retained each week when their habitat receives a complete cleaning. Feeding and cleaning times are good moments for social interaction with their humans. Gerbils might even enjoy running around in a rodent playpen while their house is being cleaned if they are protected from other pets, such as cats or dogs. Cats, especially, will see them as prey animals – a situation that never ends well for the gerbil.
What is the best cage for a gerbil?
The best cage for a gerbil is a glass terrarium. It should be at least a 20-gallon tank that is a minimum of twelve inches deep – eighteen inches is better. About 1/3 of the tank should be filled with bedding material to allow gerbils to engage in their natural burrowing habit. Keep in mind that some gerbils can stretch up to reach at least five inches when standing on their back legs. For their safety, the top of the cage needs secure mesh top. This keeps them from hopping out, household kitties from reaching in, and still allows good ventilation. The cage needs to be placed in a quiet area away from direct lighting or drafts.
Are gerbils the easiest pets to care for?
Gerbils are possibly the easiest cage pet to care for. They do not urinate a great deal, do not have a strong scent, and make neat little feces pellets that are easy to sift out of bedding. If they have a cage buddy (a same-sex littermate is best so as to avoid fighting or procreation), they require very little from their human beyond food, water, and a clean environment. With that said, it is a good idea to socialize your gerbil. It makes transferring your desert rodent from the primary cage to a holding area of playpen much easier and reduces the trauma of going to the vet if your small fur creature should become ill.
Do Gerbils need toys?
Like most mammals, gerbils do play and they like toys as part of their environment. Their toys can include paper tubes to gnaw on and tunnel through, half a coconut shell hung and filled with hay, a flat rock that is slightly raised above the rest of their bedding, a hanging branch, small twigs and sticks that they can chew on and pull about. Avoid fibrous items such as small cat toys, and avoid items made of plastic. Some gerbils enjoy a large, solid running wheel. Because of their long tails, open work exercise wheels are not advised, nor are exercise disks.
Life Expectancy of Gerbils – How Long Do Gerbils Live?
With good care and a heritage of good health, the life expectancy of gerbils can be as much as eight years. On the average, they live longer than hamsters, rats, or mice. Of course, how long gerbils live also depends on their environment, quality of food, and keeping them entertained. Like most mammals, they need security and routine when it comes to their environment and feeding schedule but enjoy some small changes such as different toys or re-arranging parts of their habitat. They are an excellent pet for someone who is happy to watch their antics as they go about their daily life.