Gerbil Care FAQ
How long do gerbils live?
With proper care and nutrition gerbils can live 3-4 years or longer. Some gerbils have even been reported as old as 6! Our oldest gerbil was about 4.5 when he passed on.
If gerbils are desert animals, do they need water?
YES! Wild gerbils are adapted to arid environments, but our furry, domesticated little friends are not and must have access to fresh water daily.
Can gerbils live alone if I give them a lot of attention?
Yes, but they won't be happy. No matter how much you interact, you simply cannot replace another gerbil. The only time it is advised to allow a gerbil to live alone if is they have shown severe aggression (rare) or if they are elderly and have lost their cage mate. Elderly gerbils can accept friends, but you will then be caught in a cycle of having to introduce new friends as each older gerbil passes on.
Can I put two unfamiliar gerbils together?
Gerbils must never be introduced without using the split cage method! Gerbils are very territorial and will fight without a proper introduction and that fight can be to the death! To learn more about how to conduct a split cage introduction please go here.
Do gerbils stink?
They can have a little smell to them, but they do not have a strong odor like mice, rats, or even hamsters. They do not urinate nearly as often as their pocket pet counterparts and are easily "litterbox trained". I often feel that the aspen bedding has a more pungent smell than the gerbils themsevles do!
Do gerbils bite?
Anything with teeth has the capability to bite, but gerbils are incredibly gentle little creatures and rarely bite intentionally. Often they will smell a treat you once had in your had and will give a little "nibble", but gerbils rarely bite aggressively. I have only ever been bitten once and it was when I was in the process of breaking up a gerbil fight. The gerbil didn't bite me, my hand happened to be in the wrong place.
How many gerbils can live together?
That all depends on if they are male or female. The best decision is to only have a pair of males or a pair of females, but if you want more, you should consider no more than three males. Females should never be kept in groups of larger than two, they tend to be less stable due to the matriarchal nature of gerbils and fights/declanning are more likely to occur. Males are a little bit more laid back and a trio will typically live in harmony.
Which is better, males or females?
There is no difference, both genders are fun and will fill your life with joy and laughter! Many people tend to adopt males under the impression that they are friendlier or easier to tame than females, but this is not true. Both genders are easily tamed and will become affectionate towards you. Many of our females love to groom our hands while few of our males do. Each gender is unique in their own way and we encourage the adoption of both genders (in same sex pairs only) and do not recommend one over the other, we love them all!
What does Spotted, Pied, and Mottled even mean?!
These are just the different descriptions of the patterns a gerbil might display if they are spotted! According to TheGerbils.com:
Spotted gerbils have only a small spot/diamond on there forehead and sometimes a small amount on white on the neck. The white marking on the neck won't go down the shoulders, but stays on the neck.
Pied gerbils have white markings on the forehead and also the neck. This time, the white on the neck does down the shoulders and down to the front paws. Some white marking can be visible on their lower back.
Mottled gerbils will have more white than pied gerbils, the markings on their lower back will be more pronounced.
Heavy/Extreme Mottled gerbils have more white markings than mottled gerbils. In some extreme cases, it's almost impossible to say the real color of the gerbil there is so much white on the body (these are referred to as high white). Extreme/Heavy Mottled will have 50% or more of their body white while Heavy White are 70% or more white.
TheGerbils.com has some great photos representing many colors as well as the various spotting patterns described above.
Why are your gerbils so expensive and why is there a deposit?
Our gerbils do not cost anymore than a gerbil found at Petco for $19.99+tax; however, our gerbils are guaranteed to be healthy and hand-raised whereas a petstore animal is more likely to come from a breeding mill situation complete with genetic issues, poor health, and an even worse temperament. I spend a significant amount of time every single day socializing my gerbils for their next forever home. Other breeders may offer lower fees; however, we do not feel this is appropriate given the time and energy we put into raising our animals.
We have a deposit as it shows us that you are serious about the adoption. We have had many people reserve gerbils, but by the time the adoption rolls around they have "changed their mind" or found gerbils at a petstore instead. By having a deposit, this will ensure our adopters are serious, the fee will also help support the gerbils should the adopter back-out and the gerbils must be placed back up for adoption.
Do you make a profit?
None! Breeding gerbils is not something we do to make any type of profit, anything "made" goes right back into the care of our animals whether it be new wheels, chew toys, food, bedding, cages, or vet checkups/bills - there is always something needed and we are lucky to "break even" year over year. If you're looking to make money by breeding/selling healthy and hand-tame gerbils, you'll be very mistaken.
Our one goal is to produce healthy, hand-tame animals that are of show quality.
Why should I join the American Gerbil Society?
There are a multitude of benefit by being an American Gerbil Society member. You will have access to a plethora of information, resources, and can register all of your gerbils. The AGS community is a fun, resourceful, and welcoming community - we all share a love for these amazing little animals and love to share pictures, stories, etc. The more members we have, the more often we can have gerbils shows as well. Our dream is for a show to be held in the Rocky Mountain West - specifically, Denver, CO!
It is very important that gerbils have deep bedding to burrow in; however, it is recommended that for the first 2-3 weeks of bringing your new friends home that the bedding levels be kept low. This will help you bond with your gerbils. If the start out with deep bedding, they may develop prey animal tendencies and hide 24/7. Once you have bonded with your new friends for 2-3 weeks, start increasing the bedding!
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