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Caring for Gerbils

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Caring for Gerbils
These small, lively pets are inexpensive to keep and interesting to watch. This guide is about caring for gerbils.
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March 30, 20064 found this helpful
Description: Gerbils are friendly and inquisitive. They make lively, active pets that are easy and relatively inexpensive to keep and interesting to watch. Most domesticated gerbils are Mongolian gerbils. They have large middle ears, which gives them the ability to detect the soft beat of bird wings, their natural predators in the wild, and they have a long tail that acts like a stabilizer when jumping. Gerbils have large dark eyes and come in many colors or combinations of colors.
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Size: Gerbils weigh between 2.5 and 3.5 oz. The males are slightly heavier than the females.

Compatibility: Gerbils should be kept in groups as they are highly social animals. They are prolific reproducers and should be kept in groups of the same sex unless you want LOTS of babies.

Appeal: Gerbils are lively, friendly, and relatively clean and odor-free. They are low maintenance and inexpensive to keep. They make better pets than cats and dogs for people with allergies. They are active during the day and evening and rarely bite.

Drawbacks: They are not as keen as some rodents are about being handled and can be hard to catch. They are delicate and can be seriously injured if not handled properly. If not properly housed they can scatter bedding and make a mess. They are also escape artists and will try to chew or gnaw their way out of enclosures.

Diet: Gerbils should be fed a seed mix or pellets that are designed for gerbils. They should not be fed oily seeds like sunflower seeds in large quantities.

Problems & Health Issues: Gerbils are susceptible to epileptic seizures. If given an improper diet, they can suffer from digestive upsets. The tips of their tails are fragile and easily damaged.

Lifespan: Healthy Gerbils can live an average of 4-5 years.

Interesting Facts: Gerbils are prolific breeders and can produce three litters a year of up to 12 young.

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Comment Was this helpful? 4
By guest (Guest Post)
June 16, 20070 found this helpful

My mom said yes my dad said no, do gerbils really stink are they cute and worth buying them and can you keep them in your room while your sleeping and make noise and will hide under your dresser, bed ect.?

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 9, 20070 found this helpful

Hey,

I was thinking about geting one and i was thinking do they bite?

Are they very actice at night?

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By guest (Guest Post)
March 2, 20080 found this helpful

Did you take that picture from petsmart ? Because I think tha'ts my gerbil. It was in the same cage and looks the same.

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By guest (Guest Post)
March 15, 20080 found this helpful

Hey, do gerbils have to have a certain temperature to live in and are they nocturnal?

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By guest (Guest Post)
March 25, 20080 found this helpful

Ok, gerbils can have a lot more than 3 litters a year. They mate as soon as they give birth to a litter if the dad is left in the cage. So a mom could be having a litter ever 4 weeks to 6 weeks. The only time gerbils smell is if you dont clean the cage, I clean mine at least every 2 weeks. It is advised to clean it every week.

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 3, 20080 found this helpful

First off guys, gerbils are somewhat nocturnal. My two like to make scraping sounds with their claws if you put anything like cardboard in their cage. If you handle your gerbil regularly, or at least get them used to you, they will not bite you at all. Mine have not bitten me ever since I got them two years ago. You do NOT want the gerbils loose in your room. They are very small and make a quick getaway. They can slip right under the door and even be gone from your house if left alone. They are most certainly caged animals, and if properly treated and let out with a fencing type thing occasionally, then your gerbil should be perfectly happy living in a cage. They do not smell much; if cage is properly cleaned and maintained. I recommend a wire cage; the type with 2 stories or a loft. Here is one important thing to remember when getting a gerbie---they hate living alone! Gerbils get very lonely and live healthier, happier lives when with a litter-mate. As I brought up, two gerbils are better than one. but there are circumstances...males and females together..NO. Unless you are into breeding gerbils. Females & females sometimes. Males and males. NO. The top-notch deal is to get two of the same litter mates. I hope I could clear it up for you guys!

~Amanda

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By guest (Guest Post)
June 4, 20080 found this helpful

No, they don't smell. They don't keep you awake at night, apart from the first night because they need to settle in. They are lovely, I keep mine in my room, and they don't smell, apart from when they need cleaning out, which is like once a week.

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By guest (Guest Post)
June 23, 20080 found this helpful

Thanks for the info.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 19, 20080 found this helpful

I'm thinking about getting a gerbil cause my mom says no guinea pigs. Should I get aquarium or wire cage. I know they have to be able to see through so please post some helpful words.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 20, 20080 found this helpful

I have a gerbil and his name is Jerry. I play with him and he goes around in a ball. He stays awake at night but I have gotten used to him. He likes apple, carrots and toilet roll holders.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 21, 20080 found this helpful

I got 2 gerbils 3 days ago. I was wondering when the start sitting on your shoulder and won't run away from you?

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 23, 20080 found this helpful

I was wondering can you breed gerbils and sell them to a pet store? I'm about to get two of them, but what combinations work best, 2 females, 2 males or a group? Please type info soon.

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By guest (Guest Post)
November 18, 20080 found this helpful

I'm thinking about getting a gerbil, anything I should know before I do?

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November 19, 20080 found this helpful

My gerbil is a sweety.her sister died at age 5 months because my brother killed her.but chewy has lived almost a year without her sis i think its a miracle heres a cute pic of her.

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Questions

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By 1 found this helpful
December 20, 2010

Is it OK to have gerbils even if you have cats?

By JC from Greenvillie, SC

Answer Was this helpful? 1
December 21, 20100 found this helpful

Well you can but I wouldn't recommend it, you would need to be very vigilant, cats are predatory and a gerbil would make a tasty meal.

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December 21, 20100 found this helpful

Ditto to mrs.flowerpot! Even when you are diligent, and especially if you have children, the gerbils and hamsters seem to escape their cages once in a while. Some house cats may not intend to kill them, but they could easily "play" them to death, by accident. :-(

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January 28, 20120 found this helpful

What happens if a gerbil turns gray by the time you have had it not even a year?

By Leeanna

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January 28, 20120 found this helpful

It could be under stress, I don't know. Every animal is different. My dog had a few grey hairs after the first year I had him. I wouldn't worry about it unless it's hair is falling out.

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January 29, 20120 found this helpful

Gerbils live for 3-5 years. It's getting older.

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January 30, 20120 found this helpful

Daisey is right. Your gerbil may have been more than a few months old when you got it, so if you've had it a year, then yes it's getting old. Like people and other animals, many mammals do turn grey with age.

I have 2 dachshunds. One will be 12 years old ths April. She barely has any of her red coloring left on her. It started turning grey a couple of years ago and now her whole face and all four paws are grey.

My other dog will be 9 this March and he's beginning to turn too around his lips.

So don't worry, just make his life as easy and as happy as you can for the time you have left with him.

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December 6, 20060 found this helpful

Will mother gerbils bury their babies? I'm afraid the pups will suffocate.

Colleen from MI

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
January 6, 20070 found this helpful

I don't think mother gerbil will harm her babies. If she is burying her babies it is most likely she is protecting them from preditors. Keep an eye on them and make sure they are all nursing. Depending on their ages i would not touch them because of human scent on the babies. When you are cleaning the cage maybe add a little less shavings until their bigger.

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By guest (Guest Post)
June 16, 20070 found this helpful

can you touch the baby gerbils when they have no fur will they die or get no fur where you touch them?

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June 16, 20070 found this helpful

Whatever you do don't touch them until they are old enough to move to another cage. Once the mother gerbil is done nursing she wont want them around and will try to harm them. When they are old enough to stop nursing move them to another cage immediately. Watch to make sure they are drinking on their own that is how you will know when the time is to change cages.

Tanya

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By 0 found this helpful
December 9, 2010

I had 2 female gerbils of about 6 months old. One of them died suddenly today, with no obvious signs of illness, in fact, she was fine just yesterday evening. I had to move them to a friend's for a couple of days as my heating broke down and I didn't want them to freeze. So I was wondering if the trauma of moving could have been a reason?

The remaining one seems fine. She is the bigger and more dominant of the pair. Will she be OK on her own, or should I try to introduce a companion for her? I have read that females can be very territorial, but if she needs a "friend" I am aware of the split cage method.
Would be grateful of any advice.

By Mitch from UK

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
December 9, 20100 found this helpful

I'm sorry your pet gerbil died, Mitch. I know nothing about gerbils but if it is in your surviving gerbils best interest I would certainly get another one. Have you talked to the pet store where you got the girls to ask what they recommend? I've always had pets in pairs, just 'cuz I'm a softy and feel sorry for them if they are alone. Again, I've never had gerbils, but if it's okay for your surviving pet I'd say go for it and find her a roommate! :-)

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November 23, 20130 found this helpful

Today I randomly chose to buy a gerbil. I've had mice in the past so I figured they were similar. After buying Aspen I read a little on gerbils and everything I read said to buy two or more at a time for companionship. I really just want to have one because that way I don't have to clean the cage as much and it's just all around easier. Is having just one okay? or should I go buy another?

By Cass

Answer Was this helpful? Yes

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December 9, 20100 found this helpful

How does a gerbil lose part of a tail? Will it regrow again ?

By Lilian from Ireland

Answers:

Raising Gerbils

Yes, the tail should regrow. Gerbils can lose part of their tail if they are mishandled, if they get their tail caught is something, in a fight with another gerbil, etc. (08/17/2010)

By Anonymous

Raising Gerbils

They usually get tail injuries from being picked up by the tail, in-fighting, or getting stuck in a wheel (open wheels, the type you'd use for hamsters, aren't a good idea. Gerbil wheels are usually plastic, with smooth, closed surface). Check this link, from the American Gerbil Society, it covers a lot of different possible health issues:

http://agsgerbils.org/Learn/Gerbil_Care_Handbook/health.php#broken

Unless the tail continues to bleed or looks infected, what usually happens is that the injured part dries up and falls off. Generally, though, they don't grow back. If the bleeding keeps up and there's redness, swelling or pus, your little one really might have to go to the vet for an amputation and antibiotics. (08/19/2010)

By PupperMom

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August 17, 20100 found this helpful

I separated the boy gerbils from the girl gerbils. The mother had more pups and proceeded to chase her daughter around the cage and bite her. The daughter from the first litter was not allowed to sleep in the nest box any more either. I moved her to her own cage. Did I do the right thing?

I had heard that the daughter from the first litter would help her mother with the pups. I hope to put another female in with her when the new pups get big enough. I hear this might be a bit tricky though. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks!

By Claire from Bristol, NH

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July 12, 20100 found this helpful

My gerbils are multiplying. I need to separate the boys from the girls. I don't have much money. Any ideas for a homemade gerbil home? I am handy with tools, etc. Thanks!

By Claire from Bristol, NH

Answers:

Raising Gerbils

My hubby's handy, too, but, through trial-and-error we ended up scouting just an ordinary glass aquarium and putting tough, but small-gauge wire screening on the top. These little guys can and will, chew through almost everything. Wood, plastic (even the high-priced rodent homes that look fairly tough) and cages with thin wire are mostly invitations for gerbils to chew away.

We only have two male gerbils, in a 20 gallon aquarium that we found at a yard sale for ten bucks. It may be cheaper for you to go that way unless you find you can build something as substantial for less cash. (06/29/2010)

By PupperMom

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June 25, 20100 found this helpful

Do all gerbils have to live in pairs or can I have just one gerbil? Please somebody answer ASAP.

By 3Oh!3 from Milwaukie, OR

Answers:

Raising Gerbils

You can get 1 or 2 Gerbils from the same litter and they will be fine. They can live alone, but I would imagine they would rather have a partner.

You cannot introduce another gerbil to one that you already have because they will fight. (08/10/2009)

By jannieb

Raising Gerbils

I would suggest you be sure you have two gerbils of the same sex, or you might end up with more than you planned on. (08/11/2009)

By duckie43

Raising Gerbils

When my son was young we had 1 gerbil, and we had him for many years, way too long for a gerbil!
So yes, you can get just one. Our gerbil was very happy alone. (08/12/2009)

By joanneb63

Raising Gerbils

Gerbils are fine alone. See that they have some toys, chew things, and play with them and they will be good pets. (08/12/2009)

By lindal

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
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