Gerbils are bright, inquisitive, rewarding to observe, clean and cheap to feed. However they do require commitment and regular attention

A gerbil needs 

  • Companionship - to be with other gerbils
  • Daily feeding on a diet of mixed grain and washed fruit and vegetables, with occasional sunflower seeds.
  • To have a constant supply of fresh water from a drip-feedbottle with metal spout
  • A gerbilarium to live and burrow in (a large aquarium tank with a wire mesh cover)
  • The gerbilarium to be kept indoors at an even room temperature, out of direct sunlight
  • Plenty of material for burrowing - slightly damp peat mixed with chopped straw/hay
  • Clean white paper for nesting material
  • The gerbilarium to be tidied every day, with all old food removed, and cleaned out thoroughly every three months
  • To be taken to a veterinary surgeon straight away when it is unwell
  • A gnawing block of soft wood to wear down long teeth
  • Toys, like cardboard tubes and wooden cotton reels to play with
  • Not to be upset by too much handling
  • To be looked after at holiday times
  • Your time and interest for the rest of its life

Fact Sheet

2-3 years

Sexually mature
Females 9 - 12 weeks. Males 10 weeks

A female gerbil has an average of 5 - 7 litters in her lifetime. Your should not breed your gerbil, as it is difficult to find good homes. Males an females should be kept apart

In season (When female gerbil is fertile and can be made pregnant)
Every six days throughout the year for five hours or more

Gestation (Length of pregnancy)
24 days approximately

Litter size
4 - 6 in each litter on average

Put one hand firmly over the back, or use both hands cupped or encourage the gerbil to walk onto one outstretched hand and limit movement with the other hand over the back. Never pick up a gerbil by the tail.

Where they live in the wild, gerbils live in groups called colonies. They enjoy being with other gerbils. Adult gerbils are likely to fight if they are of from the same litter; so it is best to keep to female litter mates. If gerbils do fight when together; they must be kept apart a all times

Health Problems

Heat exhaustion
Usually caused when the tank is left in direct sunlight. Gerbils should recover if the tank is placed in a cool dark room and they are left alone

Sore nose/eyes
Caused by gnawing and burrowing habits if conditions are incorrect, if they gnaw wire or burrow in dusty environments

Tail injuries
Caused by bad handling or minor accidents.

Overgrown front teeth
Caused by lack of material to chew on. Your veterinary surgeon may have to cut the teeth back

Tyzzer's disease
This is very serious and usually causes death. Symptoms include lack of interest in food, tiredness and diarrhoea. Go to your veterinary surgeon right away.

Remember if your pet is showing unusual symptoms bring it to your local vet.