Why do gerbils make good pets?

Gerbils make great pets as they become tame with careful handling and are always fun to watch.

What are the most commonly kept gerbils?

The most common and widely available is the Mongolian gerbil with an average lifespan of three years.

What are gerbils like in their natural habitat?

In their natural habitat, these burrowing animals construct a system of tunnels and rooms – and they are expert gnawers and chewers!  Males or females live happily in pairs or in same sex groups, although to avoid any squabbling it’s always best to house together family members, or gerbils which have been together from an early age.

How do I keep my gerbil?

Because gerbils are so good at gnawing and chewing, we advise a large glass tank or a secure cage which provides plenty of burrowing space. You should provide a deep layer of woodshavings, and well secured rocks and fruit tree branches are also good for climbing.  Gerbils will use most kinds of bedding but their favourites are paper wool, paper flakes or hay – and they also love chewing on cardboard tubes!

How do I look after my gerbil?

All small mammals need regular care and attention, daily feeding (we recommend specialist hamster and gerbil food) and fresh water, and cleaning at least once a week.  You should also disinfect your cage and dishes regularly with a pet disinfectant such as Beaphar Hutch and Cage Cleaner – but be sure to rinse everything thoroughly.

How do I handle my gerbil?

When you take your new gerbil home you should allow it to settle into its new environment, so it’s best to leave it alone for the first two days before trying to handle it.  When you do start to handle your gerbil, always bear in mind that he or she may be frightened, so keep the noise to a minimum and handle carefully.  Never pick a gerbil up by the tip of the tail as they can shed their tail – handle carefully using cupped hands to support them or pick them up gently by the base of the tail then transfer their weight to the palm of your hand.  And it’s always best to start handling whilst sitting on the floor to prevent dropping or jumping injuries.

What equipment and supplies will I need?

For accommodation, you’ll need a large cage or tank with woodshavings for the floor (don’t forget your disinfectant for cleaning) and rocks or branches for climbing.  You may also want to provide a ‘house’ for your gerbil to make it’s bed in – paper wool, paper flakes or hay are ideal bedding material.

You’ll need a ceramic (unchewable!) dish for food (we recommend specialist hamster and gerbil food) and a water bottle – and to make sure your gerbil gets all the essential vitamins and minerals it needs you should provide a salt lick and mineral stone. Like humans, gerbils also like treats so don’t forget to include these too!

Wood gnaws are good for keeping their chewing tendencies in check, and you should also provide some toys to keep them amused when you’re busy.

Finally, it’s always useful to have a reference book to hand so that you can be sure you’re providing everything your gerbil needs.