The first step to establish a loving relationship with any pet comes down to how you handle it.
Be patient and make sure to familiarize your gerbil with your touch first.
The next step includes extending your hand and wait for it to hop on.
In less than a week, they will get comfortable with you.
If you have decided to get a pet gerbil then the more you know, the better.
Mongolian Gerbils And Their Characteristics
There are around 110 species of gerbils according to Wikipedia, but only 2 are kept as pets.
Mongolian gerbils and fat-tailed gerbils.
Furthermore, the majority of pet gerbils are Mongolian gerbils.
There is no significant difference between the characteristics of these two different breeds of gerbils.
The reason why people prefer a Mongolian gerbil over a fat-tailed gerbil is because of its availability. Other than that, Mongolian gerbils are curious while fat-tailed gerbils are not.
Mongolian Gerbils are not hard to recognize.
Because exhibit specific characteristics that anyone can easily recognize.
Characteristics of Mongolian Gerbils
Size: An adult Mongolian gerbil is about 11 cm long which is roughly 5 inches excluding the tail.
Golden Agouti: The most common wild Mongolian gerbil is called “Golden Agouti” because of its coat color is golden.
Living: They are fond of living in groups and introducing them to new groups will backfire immediately.
Natural Chewers: They are natural chewers and need plenty of cardboard to chew which helps them in grooming and promoting chewing activity
Color: They are found in several colors due to selective breeding. Shades such as golden, black, orange, light brown, light blue and pure white are common.
Coats: Their coats don’t have spots or patches.
Food: Mongolian gerbils eat simple food which includes fresh hay.
Shape: Their body structure is slender and tall.
Cage: A Mongolian gerbil is kept in a glass tank as they have a chewing habit.
Behavior: Seizures are a common occurrence in Mongolian gerbils, the main reason being them being scared.
Lifespan: The average life span of a Mongolian gerbil lasts between 2-4 years and depends on the condition it lives in.
Gerbils As Pets: Pros and Cons
Keeping a pet is a huge responsibility.
Not only do you have to care for it, but you also have to make sure it eats and sleeps appropriately.
It’s better to take your time and decide if you are ready to keep one.
In case you need help in deciding whether to keep gerbils as pets or not, let me make it easy for you.
Owning gerbils certainly have some pros and cons.
Pros of Gerbils As Pets
Gerbils are not heavy sleepers. You can wake them up from their naps without them being annoyed by it.
Gerbils are diurnal. This means that they are not active during the night, unlike other rodents.
It is a small rodent that doesn’t require your attention all the time.
Cons of Gerbils As Pets
You can’t buy or adopt just one gerbil as they can’t survive alone.
Because of their tiny size, it is quite possible to lose them if they escape their gerbil cage.
Keeping a small pet like gerbil requires daily care, time, and effort.
How to Handle Gerbils
The first thing you need to learn about a gerbil is how to handle it.
The reason why it is so important is that all your future interactions will depend on how you handle it.
There is a couple of do’s and don’ts which are not hard to follow.
What You Should Do
Have patience and give it time to trust you
Let it be familiarized with the environment first
Wash your hands and touch it gently with light strokes
Lay your hand and let it approach you instead of picking it up
What You Should Not Do
Startle it by picking it up when it is sleeping or unaware of your presence.
Don’t force them to eat anything they don’t want to.
Avoid loud sounds in the first few weeks, and they have a heightened hearing sense.
Lastly, don’t give them to children as they will not handle them properly
Gerbil Sounds and What Do They Mean
Understanding the body language and different sounds your gerbil makes is essential.
Gerbils express their feelings with squeaks, chirps, and purrs.
Here is what you need to know.
A gerbil squeaks when
It is happy and is being petted by you
It is aggressive towards others in the gerbil cage
It wants to fight or is scared
What you have to do is realize the difference between happy squeaks and angry squeaks of a gerbil. An angry squeak is high in pitch whereas a happy squeak resembles a chirpy sweet tone.
A gerbil chirps when
It needs your complete attention and focus
It is calling out for the other gerbil or trying to locate its partners
It is sick
A painful and low pitched-chirp is an indication of your gerbil crying for help. This type of chirp should not be ignored.
A gerbil purrs when
It is happy and content
It wants to show affection towards you
It wants to cuddle or petted by you
Gerbils VS Hamsters
Deciding whether to get a gerbil or a hamster can be confusing.
It’s not easy to decide what you want because of too many options.
But it all comes down to the nature of the pet.
Gerbils and Hamsters are poles apart in terms of personality, size, and habits.
Let’s compare both of them on different characteristics and then decide for yourself.
Gerbils are happy to go, chirpy, social pets with a strong personality.
They love to play around be active all the time, whereas hamsters like to live alone in a protective environment.
Gerbils don’t bite and are easy to handle because of their nature, whereas a hamster bite is a common occurrence given their isolated life.
Hamsters are nocturnal, and gerbils are diurnal.
Gerbils get depressed if they are alone meaning that they can’t survive without their group, but a hamster needs to be alone in its age if you don’t want a war.
Gerbils can live for a maximum of 6 years, whereas a hamster can live for more than 3 years under favorable conditions.
Long story short, hamsters are introverts, and gerbils are extroverts.
Are gerbil bites dangerous for me?
Gerbil bites are not necessarily dangerous, but they do carry germs. It’s better to clean your wound with an antiseptic or antibacterial wash first and then consult a doctor to make sure everything is fine.
Small pets like gerbils don’t carry rabies.
What toys should I get for my Gerbils?
An exercising gerbil is a happy gerbil. Get a solid exercising wheel for your gerbil as their tiny feet can get stuck in a wired wheel.
Given their exploring nature, get them tubes or toys which promote climbing and digging. You can also get them to chew toys.