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Gerbil Care Instructions (Care Sheet & Guide 2022)

There is no better time than the present to learn about the ins and outs of owning a gerbil. It is safe to say that gerbils are simple to keep and can be a lot of fun. It's possible to have your gerbil roaming about his cage or home (with supervision) and even in your hand or on your shoulder if you teach him correctly with tubes and little exercise balls.

Let's get into the nitty gritty of gerbil ownership and maintenance now.

Facts about Gerbils

The typical gerbil is around 4 inches long and has a 4-inch tail. The most frequent hue is golden agouti, although they also come in white, blue, lilac, and grey, as well as other patterns. For the most part, gerbils may live for four years.

Gerbils may be found in the wild in China, Mongolia, and Russia, where they had their start and still call home. In 1866, a French missionary priest and biologist identified and recorded the gerbils he encountered in Northern China and returned to a French museum. In 1954, a group of gerbils was transported to the United States to be used for scientific purposes, and they quickly became popular pets. All of today's pet gerbils are descended from a single lineage.

Many things set gerbils apart from other rodents. The hair on their tails is thicker and longer than that of a rat or a mouse. Because gerbils can stand up on their own unlike hamsters, they have longer noses and are often larger. Compared to hamsters, which may live alone, gerbils need the company of a cage mate to thrive socially.

Have You Considered Owning a Gerbil?

For those who want a companion that is both furrier and more social than a mouse or rat and less demanding than a guinea pig, these little rodents are an excellent choice. Given adequate food and water, they won't need much care over the course of a weekend. Dogs who are habituated to human contact from an early age are excellent pets and seldom attack.

Gerbils are active at all hours of the day and night, depending on their mood. A gerbil is ideally suited to adults and older children who have been taught proper gerbil-handling techniques; smaller children may accidently hurt a pet gerbil.

Where Do I Go to Get a Gerbil?

Large pet retailers such as Petco and PetSmart sell gerbils. You may also check with your local animal shelter or adoption agency, since tiny rodents may be available there. Internet postings such as Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist may also be helpful in your search for a new home.

Is It Expensive to Keep a Gerbil?

It costs between $5 and $10 to buy one gerbil. That is not the pricey aspect of the process. A cage and cage accessories will run you around an extra $100. Gerbils consume roughly $15 worth of food and snacks per month, and the bedding for their tank costs about $10. You may expect to pay between $35 and $60 each year for a single veterinarian appointment.

To put it another way, it's possible to get a gerbil for about $100, and it will cost you around $40 a month to care for him or her, excluding vet appointments.

What's the Best Environment for My Gerbil?

At least one cubic foot of space is required for gerbils to live comfortably (12 inches wide, 12 inches deep, 12 inches tall). A wire cage or an aquarium tank may be used for this enclosure. Make sure your aquarium tank is at least 10 gallons in size and has a tight wire mesh cover. Bedding that is safe for gerbils should be used to line the bottom of the tank or cage. Gerbils should not be exposed to pine or cedar shavings, which give off poisonous fumes.

In addition to a cage, you'll need a food dish and a water bottle for your gerbil. Provide your gerbil with something to gnaw on as well; they need something abrasive to keep their teeth filed down. If you can't find anything at your local pet shop, try an untreated piece of wood, a stick from outdoors, or even a dog biscuit.

Make sure your gerbil's cage has a variety of levels for him to explore to make his life more interesting. As well as a little igloo or hiding place for your gerbil, an exercise wheel is a great option. If you have some cardboard tubes or PVC pipes lying around, you may place them in your gerbil habitat to keep them entertained. Your gerbil will be grateful for your kindness!

What Can I Give My Gerbil for Food?

A blend of gerbil pellets and seeds is generally sufficient for gerbils. Protein level should be approximately 12 percent, while fat content should be around 7 percent. Pellets, grains, dried vegetables, and seeds should all be included in the gerbil food you choose.

You may supplement your gerbil's diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as commercial food. Carrots, lettuce, peas, broccoli, mango, kiwi, pineapple, and banana are some of the fresh vegetables and fruits that your gerbil will like. Wait a few days between each new introduction of food to keep an eye on any food allergies.

Don't give your gerbil cabbage, undercooked beans or chocolate or onions, candies, or any other unhealthy food.

If you can, replace the water in your gerbil's water bowl every day if you can. An inverted bottle attached to the cage is the finest method for providing water to your gerbil. Your gerbil may freely lick the metal ball at the end, letting water to flow out.

In What Ways Should I Look After My Gerbil?


It's best to put around 14 of the pellet/seed gerbil food in the dish each day. Give your gerbil some fresh food on top of it. According to Glenway Animal Hospital, one teaspoon of a fruit or vegetable should be fed to your gerbil twice a week.


Initially, your gerbil may be apprehensive. When you introduce them to their new home, let them alone for 3 to 4 days so that they may get used to their new environment. After a while, you may want to try feeding them by holding out your hand to them. You may attempt to lift them up once they feel at ease. Do this by picking them up with your hand. Gerbils' tails should never be grabbed or picked up by humans since it might cause damage.

Cleaning the Cage

In spite of their cleanliness, gerbils still need some assistance in cleaning their cage. As soon as you detect any filthy bedding, get rid of it. If you have two or more gerbils, you should replace the bedding at least once a month, but ideally twice a month. The hide dwellings should be checked and cleaned on a regular basis.

The gerbil cage or aquarium should be disinfected every three to four weeks. When the food dish and water bottle get filthy, be sure to clean them as well.

In the cage

Temperatures in the cage should be maintained between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the gerbil's cage out of direct sunlight and away from any other creatures that may disturb it. In order to avoid the gerbils' nighttime antics, keep the cage out of your bedroom.


It's time to let your gerbils out of their cage for a little of playtime. A excellent place to start is with 20 minutes a day. Keep a close watch on them and ensure sure the cage is secure throughout this period. Just make sure they are on the floor and not at risk of being trodden on or going down the stairs if you decide to play with them this way. If you have other pets, it's a good idea to keep them in cages or outdoors.


The presence of other gerbils is very beneficial to gerbils. The ideal circumstance is for a same-sex couple to live together.


You may assist your gerbil naturally clean itself by giving him or her access to sand. The sand on these desert critters' coats acts as a natural deodorant. To achieve this, you'll need a dish that's at least 1 inch deep, and chinchilla sand (not dust) filled to the rim about halfway. If you put in the sand once a week for 10 minutes, your gerbil will take care of everything.

Nails that have become too curled or are growing back toward the feet of your gerbil must be trimmed to keep them healthy.

What Should I Do If My Gerbil Is Sick?

Gerbil Care Instructions

If your gerbil exhibits any of the following negative health indicators, please call your veterinarian immediately:

  1. Breathing difficulties
  2. Sneezing
  3. Excessive discharge from the eyes, nose, or mouth
  4. Eyes that are sunken, puffy, or hazy
  5. Loss of weight
  6. Front teeth that are overgrown
  7. Lethargy
  8. Diarrhea
  9. Symptoms of fleas or lice
Here are a few more common gerbil ailments and their symptoms.

Mysterious illness known as Tyzzer's Syndrome

Gut bacteria are the source of Tyzzer's illness. Diarrhea, weariness, soreness, a slouched posture, messy hair, and dehydration are all signs. If this illness goes untreated, it might be deadly.

Loss of the Tail

If handled incorrectly, a gerbil's tail might be severely injured. When the tuft surrounding the tail and skin is peeled off, all that is left is the bony skeleton. Even though it's unattractive, the tail will normally dry up and fall off on its own within a few days. It's possible for gerbils to eat their own tails in this situation since they are omnivores. Don't worry, the gerbil won't be able to tell the difference after the procedure is complete.

When a violent event results in the gerbil's whole tail being ripped off, you should take your pet to the doctor for an examination.

Fits are common in gerbils, most likely owing to stress. A number of factors contribute to this, including the gerbil having been handled excessively, the environment having changed, the gerbil sensing "predators" (such as dogs or cats) nearby, and the gerbil being overstimulated.

When a gerbil is having a tantrum, you can tell by the way its ears are curled back and its twitching and drooling. Remove any stresses as soon as you notice these symptoms. Once your gerbil has calmed down, everything should be OK.

Gerbils that are still acclimating themselves to their new environment are more likely to have fits.


Keep in mind that gerbils are small animals and should be treated with particular caution in light of this. With a rodent this little, mishaps are all too often. You and your gerbil will have a lot of fun if you're kind with it. Gerbils may transmit infections that can infect humans, so wash your hands after touching one.
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