When you’re choosing a small pet, there are several points to consider when choosing an animal companion that fits your personality and lifestyle. Gerbils are easy to care for and make great pets for people who are looking for lower maintenance animals that are gentle and good-natured.
The Mongolian gerbil is the most common species of the gerbil family. Hailing from the steppes of northern China and the deserts of Africa, Asia, and parts of India, they have physically adapted to life in harsh climates. Gerbils have specialized kidneys that allow them to survive on very little water, and produce small amounts of urine, which keeps them cleaner than other rodents.
Housing your gerbil in an aquarium, 10 gallons per gerbil is the rule of thumb, will reduce the risk of your gerbil escaping. Because they have incisors that never stop growing, they chew and gnaw on just about everything. They can and will chew through metal cage bars and plastic food dishes, so this is important to bear in mind when furnishing the tank. Since they love to burrow, providing deep enough bedding to accommodate this compulsion is also important for their health and happiness.
It’s helpful to know a few key facts. First, gerbils are highly territorial. They are happiest when in pairs or family groups. Because their scent glands are located on their fuzzy little tummies, they tend to rub their bellies on things to mark their territory. Same sex pairs that are littermates are ideal when starting out, due to their fondness of familiarity.
These rodents are gentle by nature but will fight and bite when frightened or stressed. When you first interact with your gerbil, it’s suggested by vets to place your hand into the tank several times a day to let your furry pals get used to your scent. Simply rest your hand on the bottom for a few minutes, letting the gerbils explore and adapt to you. Frequent interaction will make then less likely to bite when you handle them.
Since it’s best to start with same sexed litter mates, if you choose to breed or introduce another gerbil of either sex to the environment, you should always split the tank. This is done by placing a screened divider in the middle of a 20-gallon tank, after washing all items inside to remove any lingering scents.
With the original gerbils on one side of the screen, place the newcomer on the opposite, watching them for the duration. Switch sides with both sets of gerbils after 5-10 minutes if they have reacted positively. Repeat this process several times a day until they greet each other regularly, then you may safely remove the divider. Research before you buy, and you and your gerbils will be glad you did.Tags: Desert Rats, Gerbil Buddy System