- Lifespan: 3-5 years
- Body weight: 50- 80 g (females) 80-130 g (males)
- Sexual maturity: 65-85 days
- Gestation: 24-26 days
- Litter size: 3-7 pups
- Weaning: 21-24 days
- Daily diet consumption of adult (g): 5-7
- Daily water consumption of adult (mL): 4
- Appropriate pets for beginners.
- Friendly, clean, quiet and curious pets.
- Rarely bite and easily handled.
- Produce minimal odor and waste.
- Active during the day and night, peak activity occurs at night.
- Gerbils require at least 30 minutes of attention per day.
Sexing and Reproduction:
- Males have a large, dark scrotum and a longer anogenital distance than females.
- Breeding pairs tend to be monogamous and maintain lifelong relationships.
- Gerbils should be introduced before they are 8 weeks of age to reduce the risk of fighting. Adult gerbils of either sex may fight to the death if introduced as adults.
- Neutering the male can prevent overpopulation.
- Gerbils are social animals and are best housed in pairs.
- The minimum cage size should be 36 square inches per gerbil; a pair requires a minimum of 180 square inches.
- The enclosure should be escape proof with a secure lid.
- The enclosure should be cleaned thoroughly at least weekly to reduce odors. Remove wet spots daily.
- Ideal environmental temperature is 60-70 degrees F (16-21 degrees C).
- Ideal relative humidity should not exceed 30-50%.
- Exercise wheels and plastic exercise balls provide an outlet for energy.
- Gerbils like to build nests out of nesting material.
- Commercial pellet diets are available for gerbils.
- Alfalfa hay should be available for grazing and is a good calcium source for nursing females.
- Excessive consumption of sunflower seeds and other high-fat foods will lead to obesity.
- Provide fresh drinking water via a sipper tube.
Grooming and Hygiene:
- Gerbils stay clean and rarely need baths.
- Consult with a veterinarian if your gerbil’s teeth or nails seem too long.
- Because all gerbils are potential carriers of infectious diseases, always wash your hands before and after handling your gerbils and/or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of diseases.
- Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing and/or caring for a gerbil.
- May be helpful to purchase a gram scale to keep track of your gerbilr’s weight and food consumption.
This information is provided through Valley Veterinary Hospital and the following sources. If you have any further questions regarding gerbil husbandry and health, please contact our hospital at 701-232-3391.
“The Exotic Guidebook Exotic Companion Animal Procedures,” written by Susan Leck,
DVM Dipl ABVP – Canine & Feline Practice Edited by Peter Fisher, DVM.
* Information taken from “Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents”, written by Katherine E.Quesenberry and James W. Carpenter.