The Costs of Owning a Gerbil


Gerbils are small, fuzzy, and 1000% adorable, so chances are high someone in your household has already asked for one. It might have even been you. Have you seen their knowing eyes? The way their whiskers twitch? Honestly, it would be more surprising if you said you didn’t want one. Still, before you head for the pet store, it’s best to consider the costs of owning one of these fluffy buddies. These charges include the price of the gerbil itself, plus all of the associated expenses of a responsible pet owner.

What Are Gerbils?

Though hamsters and guinea pigs are among the most popular rodent pets, gerbils are taking the US by storm. They are native to Asia and Africa and are fond of dry, desert-like environments. Unlike hamsters, which are nocturnal, gerbils are quite active during the day. They love digging tunnels and chewing things, so you will have a lot of fun watching them play.

Buying a Gerbil

Gerbils are very cheap, typically costing between $5 and $10 each, the price depending on the exact breed and its current availability. However, it’s strongly advised that you get at least two gerbils at once because they are highly social. It’s not a good idea to have just one since then it will have no one to play with. Ideally, they should be from the same litter and the same sex, so you know they’ll get along.


Cages with bars or nets are not a good option for your gerbil’s home, as gerbils can chew on the bars or their feet might get stuck in the net. It’s better to go for a glass enclosure — or even to repurpose an old glass cabinet. A nice, spacious glass tank can set you back anywhere between $40 and $200.

Food & Water

If you buy packaged gerbil food, expect to pay around $5 per month for one gerbil. You can also just feed them fruit, veggies, and seeds from your own diet since that’s what they like.

The water dispenser for the tank is also pretty cheap — it shouldn’t cost more than $10. As for their food bowl, try to stay away from plastic. You can use any of your own ceramic containers and buy a new one for $8—$15.

Bedding & Decoration

You need to fill the gerbils’ enclosure with enough bedding material. This material will allow them to nest and dig and would improve your pets’ comfort and mood. Bedding is quite cheap — a $15 bag will last you a month or more. Consider also using some real hay to add texture and variety.

Gerbils enjoy natural environments, so you don’t need to buy them any fancy decor. Introduce sticks and logs (that you can find for free) into their enclosure and they will be perfectly happy.

You also don’t need to splurge on toys. Simply give your gerbils empty paper rolls or pieces of cardboard, and they will have a great time. If you do buy them toys, avoid plastic, since it’s hazardous. Store-bought toys should be under $20.

Visits to the Vet

There probably won’t be any. Gerbils are quite sturdy and rarely get sick. As long as you make sure they don’t sleep in their sand bath, which is bad for their lungs, and avoid plastic, they should be just fine. If you still have to visit the vet, it would cost you $40 on average. In rare occasions, gerbil operations may cost upwards of $1,000+ for corrective artery surgery – a condition affecting less than 0.02% of gerbils, and more common in the wild than in domesticated gerbils. Still, don’t fret, as there are options – like billig forbrukslån for gerbil owners in Norway – to bring your loved one back to health!