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9 Things to Consider When Buying a Gerbil

Ritchie is a gerbil parent who enjoys sharing his rodent knowledge with other pet keepers.

Make sure you consider all the pros and cons before buying a gerbil.

Make sure you consider all the pros and cons before buying a gerbil.

Gerbils as Pets

A gerbil can be a fantastic addition to your home and family. They are fun, placid, and intelligent and make fantastic pets. They are active rodents and, unlike many hamsters, they enjoy being handled. Before jumping into gerbil ownership, however, there are a few things prospective keepers should consider.

9 Things You Should Know Before Buying a Gerbil

  1. They can be messy.
  2. They need space to burrow.
  3. They like to gnaw.
  4. They need to live in pairs.
  5. They need plenty of exercise.
  6. They should only live with gerbils of the same sex.
  7. They should be separated if they fight.
  8. You should buy from a reputable seller.
  9. You must clean their cage once a week.

1. Gerbils Can Be a Little Bit Messy

Gerbils are clean rodents that love to burrow, but this can mean that they kick the sawdust out of their cage, which requires you to constantly clean the floor and surrounding area.

For this reason, you may want to consider buying an aquarium. It stops the gerbils from throwing their sawdust out of the wire cage and thus results in very little mess.

Alternatively, you might like to make a cover for the sides of your gerbil’s wire cage. This is the only problem with gerbils in terms of cleanliness and can be easily managed. It definitely shouldn't put you off buying a gerbil.

2. Gerbils Need Plenty of Space to Burrow

Gerbils love to dig and burrow. It’s ingrained in their DNA. So it’s vital that you provide your gerbil with the facility to burrow in their gerbilarium. Fill the cage with plenty of sawdust and give them some toys such as brown toilet rolls or approved toys.

They need something to do or they become bored and lethargic. So make sure their cage is deep enough to burrow and don't skimp on the wood shavings.

You might also like to introduce some approved pips for them to hide in. Gerbils love to hide in the dark!

3. Gerbils Like to Gnaw

Gnawing is something your gerbil needs to do to keep their teeth at a healthy length and prevent an overbite. When buying a gerbil, look at some toys that you can add to the cage to help them keep their teeth in tip-top condition. Good pet stores sell these items, and you can buy them online.

4. Gerbils Need to Live in Pairs

Gerbils are social animals and they need company, so you should buy gerbils in pairs. Never buy just one gerbil. It will become lonely, depressed, and inactive. I cannot overstate the importance of buying a gerbil along with a gerbil friend.

5. Gerbils Need Plenty of Exercise

Gerbils love to run around, and they’ll need more than just their cage for activity. You should handle your gerbils daily and let them run around.

Gerbil exercise balls are an ideal way of letting your pet run around indoors, and if you haven’t got much space you can buy exercise balls that sit in a stand.

You might even like to consider building a gerbil run, but make sure the sides are high enough to stop you gerbils from escaping – they’re excellent climbers!

6. Buy Gerbils in Pairs of the Same Sex

Unless you want lots of little gerbils (pups), I suggest you buy same-sex pairs. If you have more than two gerbils, keep them separated by sex (but never alone).

7. Separate Gerbils If They Fight

It’s not uncommon to see gerbils play fighting (it looks like they are boxing), and this is perfectly normal behaviour. But if they begin to seriously fight (scratching, biting, etc.) they need to be separated as they may end up killing one another.

8. Buying a Gerbil From a Reputable Seller Is Vital

Make sure that you buy your gerbils from a reputable seller, such as a verified pet store or breeder. Check out reviews and make sure you’re buying healthy animals without illness or disease.

9. Clean Your Gerbil's Cage Once a Week

Because they burrow, it’s hard to see where your gerbil's poop and pee are, so it’s important that you clean the cage out weekly. Don’t assume that the cage is clean just because you can't see or smell anything, as the poo has a habit of falling to the bottom of the cage or gerbilarium.

Rodent Comparison

 Live alone?Likely to bite?Social?













This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: Should I get two boy or girl gerbils?

Answer: Males are often the more docile sex. We bought males.

© 2017 Ritchie Hicks