Gerbils make great pets for older children. They are very active and although relatively easy to handle, they are probably a little less docile than most hamsters. Unlike hamsters they are not nocturnal so can be up for play at any time of the day.
There are lots of things we can do to ensure we have happy gerbils.
- Give them space to cater for their wanderlust and inquisitive nature. Some people use glass aquariums because gerbils can chew cage bars and may also kick out their bedding which can be messy. Around 1 metre x 0.5 metre space should be allowed for a pair of gerbils to give them enough space and create an enriching environment.
- Gerbils tend to be active at any time of the day or night, although providing a nest area will allow them to sleep as they may have many naps throughout 24 hours.
- Gerbils like to burrow and climb – so give them tunnels, platforms and lots of toys.
- They enjoy company and live in large groups in the wild. A same sex pair will usually get along especially if paired up when young, so look for two who are accustomed to each other. Provide plenty of space for groups of gerbils to reduce the chances of territorial aggression.
- Introducing a new gerbil isn’t always easy and needs to be done with care.
- Consider providing food in different locations – it will make for a happy gerbil who has to spend time foraging to seek out a variety of food types.
- Don’t forget some wood to gnaw on – gerbils love a nibble! Apple and hazelnut branches are ideal
- Human companions can add a lot to a gerbil’s life. Small children may find gerbils hard to handle as they are so quick and active. An older child or adult will enjoy owning a gerbil and observing their behaviours which include foraging as a group, grooming each other, running, digging and taking sand baths.