Gerbils are friendly, adorable, active, and curious creatures that make excellent pets for children. Gerbils are a pleasure to care for and will provide lots of entertainment. They are incredibly pleasant, and social animals and prefer to be kept in groups. Gerbils love to play, so provide it with an exercise wheel that does not have any openings in which their tails can get caught. They are excellent pets for apartment residents and people who do not have the time to care for a more demanding pet.
Gerbils are part of the rodent family. They are native to many parts of the world, but the type of gerbil commonly kept as a pet is the Mongolian Gerbil which is a desert species, and lives in underground tunnels. Pet gerbils are available in a variety of colors. The most common colors are dove, white, all-black and golden. A typical gerbil measures between six and twelve inches long, including the tail which makes up approximately one half of their total length. The average adult gerbil weighs roughly 2 1/2 ounces, which is just a little larger than a hamster. Gerbils generally live to be 2 to 4 years old. Some have been known to live five or six years.
Pet gerbils are usually fed a mixture of seeds, grains, and nuts, high in fatty oils, and will happily eat food from the dinner table such as lettuce, kale, bananas, apples, carrots, spinach, cooked sweet potato or broccoli.
Cage and Bedding:
Any secure container which allows air and light in, has an attachable water bottle with drinking tube and lots of bedding is sufficient for pet gerbils. Examples would be an aquarium (10-gallon minimum) covered with small-holed wire or any wire cage made for rodent pets. Aquariums are easier to clean and the bedding will remain inside as opposed to a cage with openings. Any cage should have a solid floor. Paper covered in a layer of sawdust is a perfect cover for the bottom of the cage. Gerbils like to use cardboard tubes to shred into nesting material then they will turn this into finely shredded bedding material to sleep in. Gerbils love to chew and dig, so make sure to have plenty of cardboard or paper bedding. Corn Cob, Aspen or hardwood shavings and shredded paper towels also make good bedding. Don’t use Pine or Cedar wood shavings they can be harmful to gerbils. The cage should be cleaned once a week by replacing the bedding and washing the bottom of the cage with warm water and a liquid soap that’s safe for animals. Additionally, provide some kind of untreated piece of wood block or sterilized bone for them to use to keep their teeth short and sharp.
Gerbils require minimal care and are almost odor free but gerbils do have specific needs. Pet gerbils like to hide and sleep inside enclosed spaces, so it’s a good idea to place a small box or broken cup for this purpose. You should never pick a gerbil up by the tail. Gerbils have fragile tails that break off when grabbed or pulled. This is a defense tool in the wild. If the tail breaks off, it never grows back.