Gerbil

Caring for a Gerbil:  Unlike hamsters, gerbils are active during both day and night. Their bold and curious personalities make them entertaining family pets. It is best to pick two gerbils of the same sex, preferably littermates, as they are very social and will not thrive alone. With proper care gerbils will be lively companions for up to 4 years.

General:  Unlike hamsters, gerbils are active during both day and night. Their bold and curious personalities make them entertaining family pets. It is best to pick two gerbils of the same sex, preferably littermates, as they are very social and will not thrive alone. With proper care gerbils will be lively companions for up to 4 years.

Housing:  A 10 gallon aquarium with a ventilated lid makes a suitable home for two gerbils. Gerbils can easily damage plastic cages by digging and chewing, so they are not recommended. Cages with metal bars may be used, but bedding tends to get kicked out easily! Gerbils enjoy multi-level cages with ramps, tunnels, solid wheels and a variety of chew toys. Cover the floor with safe bedding such as Aspen shavings or Carefresh and place shredded paper in a nesting box, so your gerbils can burrow and make a nest. Gerbil's teeth grow constantly and should not be allowed to become overgrown. Offer gnawing materials such as lab or rodent blocks, untreated bits of wood, or balsa wood.

Diet:  Although the gerbil mix will provide the gerbil with a good basic diet, gerbils also enjoy fruit and vegetables. However, it is important that fruit and vegetables should be introduced to a gerbil's diet gradually as a sudden large amount of fruit or vegetables can cause diarrhea. Gerbils should be fed a commercial gerbil, hamster, or rodent diet. They readily accept and prefer sunflower seeds to a pelleted diet, but feeding sunflower seeds (low in calcium) can lead to a nutritional imbalance. The fatty seeds in the diet should be limited to 2 or 3 per day to avoid obesity in your pet. The three types of fatty seeds that need to be limited are peanuts, sunflower, and safflower seeds. Fresh water should always be available in a sipper bottle. Loose alfalfa hay is an excellent source of roughage for your gerbil, and should be available on a daily basis.

Cleaning:  Replace soiled bedding weekly, or when it appears dirty. Gerbils need less frequent cleaning than some rodents, due to their desert origins. Wash food dishes and water bottles weekly, and the cage bottom monthly. Always dry the cage well before adding fresh bedding.

Fertility:  It is easy to sex Gerbils from the age of about 7 weeks, by which time a male's testicles are quite prominent. Gerbils are sexually mature at around 10 weeks old. The average litter size is 4-6. The average gestation period is 25 days. Newborn male gerbils are distinguished from newborn female gerbils by noting the greater anogenital distance in the males. This is best accomplished by lifting the tails of littermates and comparing perineums. 

Health:  Gerbils are hardy pets, but they may suffer from various respiratory ailments. Loss of weight, poor appetite, diarrhea, nasal discharge, and discharge from the eyes are symptoms to watch for. Contact your veterinarian if they occur. Do not use pet store remedies as these may do more harm than good. Gerbils sometimes suffer from spontaneous convulsions which are genetic (from inbreeding) in nature and affects 50 percent of the gerbil population. They can be fatal and there is little that can be done about them. This is another reason breeding is strongly discouraged. Daily handling of your gerbil will help you distinguish whether or not your pet is healthy.

Warnings:  Gerbils are hardy pets, but they may suffer from various respiratory ailments. Loss of weight, poor appetite, diarrhea, nasal discharge, and discharge from the eyes are symptoms to watch for. Contact your veterinarian if they occur. Do not use pet store remedies as these may do more harm than good. Gerbils sometimes suffer from spontaneous convulsions which are genetic (from inbreeding) in nature and affects 50 percent of the gerbil population. They can be fatal and there is little that can be done about them. This is another reason breeding is strongly discouraged. Daily handling of your gerbil will help you distinguish whether or not your pet is healthy.

More info:  Gerbils are hardy pets, but they may suffer from various respiratory ailments. Loss of weight, poor appetite, diarrhea, nasal discharge, and discharge from the eyes are symptoms to watch for. Contact your veterinarian if they occur. Do not use pet store remedies as these may do more harm than good. Gerbils sometimes suffer from spontaneous convulsions which are genetic (from inbreeding) in nature and affects 50 percent of the gerbil population. They can be fatal and there is little that can be done about them. This is another reason breeding is strongly discouraged. Daily handling of your gerbil will help you distinguish whether or not your pet is healthy.