Gerbil 101

Quick Facts
LIFESPAN: Approximately 2-3 years
SIZE: 4” (10cm) long plus tail

Socialization & General Care

  • It’s important to get your new friend used to you, and used to being handled. Start by feeding your gerbil treats; once he’s comfortable accepting treats from your hand, you can gently and securely pick him up. Hold him for a short time at first, and then gradually increase your time. Remember that all pets may bite, scratch or try to escape especially when stressed.
  • Gerbils are curious, gentle and not easily startled.

The common pet gerbil originated in Monogolia


  • Gerbils are herbivores and their diet should consist of a high quality pellet supplemented with seeds, grains and cracked corn.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables should be offered every two or three days and any uneaten food should be removed before it spoils.  Acceptable choices are lettuce, carrots, zucchini, kale, papaya and apples.
  • Fresh water should be available at all times and food dishes and water bottles should be cleaned daily.
  • Never give your gerbil onions, potato, rhubarb, almonds, citrus fruits or junk food including chocolate.
  • Mineral wheels should be provided in their cage.

Health Issues to Watch For

  • Sneezing or discharge from nose or eyes
  • Cloudy, sunken or swollen eyes
  • Diarrhea or discolored droppings
  • Bare patches in fur
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Weight loss; not eating or drinking normally
  • Overgrown front teeth
  • Shaking

If you notice any of the symptoms above seek veterinary care.

Fun Gerbil Facts

  • Gerbils have strong back legs and are powerful jumpers.
  • “Thumping” is an interesting gerbil behavior. The gerbil will pound both hind legs on the ground when he is excited or stressed.
  • Gerbils are nocturnal, and are most likely to be active at night.
  • When a gerbil rubs his stomach on cage accessories, he is marking his territory.

Adopting Small Pets

Adopting Small Pets

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