Gerbil Facts

Gerbils are tiny, fluffy, and cute. They’re great pets for older kids, but not for little kids. They’re fragile. Kids could hurt the gerbil if they squeeze it or drop it. Normally they’re gentle, but when scared, they bite.

You can play with gerbils during the day since they’re awake. Gerbils love playing every day. Having two gerbils also keeps them from getting lonely. Cleaning the cage every week is required for gerbils.

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Gerbil Facts for Kids

  • Gerbils live in the desert in the wild
  • Their fur keeps them from getting sunburned
  • Gerbils wash their fur with sand.
  • They live 3 to 4 years.
  • Gerbils are omnivores
  • We can’t hear most gerbil vocalizations

Types of Gerbils

The Mongolian gerbil is the one we are familiar with and keep as a pet, but there are more gerbils! 110 species of gerbils are recognized worldwide.

Mongolian Gerbil

Mongolian Gerbil

A gentle and hardy animal, the Mongolian gerbil, has become a popular small house pet in the United States and the United Kingdom. However, it is illegal to purchase, import, or keep a gerbil as a pet in the state of California.

In the wild, the Mongolian gerbils inhabit grassland, shrubland, and desert, including semidesert and steppes in China, Mongolia, and the Russian Federation.

Pet gerbils are usually kept in cages that are about 6 inches wide by 9 inches long by 12 inches high. The cage should have a wire top so the gerbil can climb up and down easily. It should be large enough for the gerbil to turn.

Fat-tailed Gerbils

Fat-tailed Gerbils

The fat-tailed gerbil is a docile species of rodent in the gerbil subfamily. They have fluffy and soft fur and are sometimes considered pocket pets.

The fat-tailed gerbil is a medium-sized gerbil with a round, flattened body and a fat, almost bald, club-shaped tail. It weighs between 40 and 120 grams and has a yellow-colored coat with a dark grey base and a small black tip.

Fat-tailed gerbils are mostly insectivorous in the wild but can also eat a variety of plants. They are kept on a diet of rodent mix, hay, and insects but can also get diarrhea from eating too much fruit and vegetable matter.

Pallid Gerbils

Pallid Gerbils

We know less about the pallid gerbil. In their native countries, they’re usually not kept as pets. Our list includes them because they’re among the best-known gerbils.

Gerbils called pallids, or Gerbillus perpallidus, come from Egypt. They’re similar to Mongolian gerbils in size, shape, and color but shorter and have longer tails. The fur on their midsection fades from pale orange to white as it gets thicker. Because they live in hotter climates, they also have thinner coats than Mongolians.

It’s easy to take care of the pallid gerbil like you’d take care of a Mongolian gerbil. Feeding, cleaning, and handling them properly are the same for all of them. If they’re treated right, pallid gerbils can live up to 5 years old.

Great Gerbils

Great Gerbils

The great gerbil is found throughout much of Central Asia.  West China is particularly plagued by them since they store enormous quantities of grain in their endless burrows.

As their name suggests, the great gerbil is one of the largest members of the gerbil subfamily. In most countries, they are rarely kept as pets due to their aggressive behavior and huge appetites.

Unlike the Mongolian gerbil, the great gerbil looks more like a Midwestern prairie dog than any fluffy and adorable animal for kids.

Shaw’s Jirds Gerbil

The Shaw’s jird belongs to the family Muridae. It’s found in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia. It lives on arable land, pastures, and rural gardens. They typically live for 1-2 years.

Pet stores don’t normally carry this type of gerbil. The females are more aggressive with each other and very territorial than the first three gerbils. If you are considering getting one, you should keep a male and a female Shaw’s jird together.

They can have black or tan fur on top with white underneath. Typically, they are very docile around people. Almost never bite. Once accustomed to humans, these gerbils are usually friendlier than other gerbils species.

Social Animals

They’re very social animals and can get depressed if left alone. 

Gerbils that are solitary tend to be unhealthy, overweight, and have a shorter lifespan than those that live with others of their kind.

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