Gerbil is a small mouse-like rodent which originates from Asia. It lives in arid areas and is also called a desert rat. Gerbils were primarily kept in the laboratory as a test animal, but because of their cute features and docile nature, they became one of the favorite pets. Gerbils are very social and active, which is the main reason they have replaced hamsters. They live well in colonies and unlike hamsters, they are very active and one simply cannot get their eye off them.
However, certain things should be borne in mind before buying a gerbil:
1. Gerbils are social animals
Gerbils are social animals, but that doesn’t mean that you can introduce two unfamiliar gerbils to each other. Two gerbils should be only kept together when they are familiar with each other. Otherwise, disputes might erupt between them that could lead to injury or even death.
2. Cage and accessories
Gerbils need a safe space to play. They also need sufficient space because a cramped cage might make them uneasy. They love to circulate around the whole cage because of their agile nature. They are also highly intelligent rodents, so they might chew on the cage and escape. This is why an aquarium is preferred over a cage. Gerbils also need toys to keep themselves busy because the owner might not always have time to play with their little friend.
Gerbils are very gentle animals and rarely bite. It is necessary for the owner to know that gerbils have a very sensitive tail, so they should never be lifted by their tail. They often leap from the hands and escape, so they should be monitored at all times. Care should be taken, and no cat or dog should be allowed near a gerbil because that would brutally frighten it.
Unlike hamsters, gerbils always need something hard to chew on as their teeth are constantly growing. Their teeth grind down naturally. If their teeth are not sharp enough or broken, they might stop eating, so close attention should be given, and they should be provided with hard toys to chew.
Use quality gerbil food, but whatever brand you choose, make sure that it does not contain sunflower seeds because gerbils love them and tend to leave everything and consume only the seeds, which results in malnutrition. Moreover, gerbils get obese and sluggish, so it is crucial to choose a healthy diet plan for your little friend.