What makes gerbils very popular small pets? Is a gerbil the right pet for you? This article should help you answer these questions.
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Are gerbils easy to take care of?
Compared to many other pets, gerbils are very easy to take care of. They are native to deserts, and therefore require very little water and produce much less urine than other rodents would normally do. This means it is usually easy to keep their environment clean and free of odours. Thorough tank cleaning is necessary about every two weeks. Tiding up should be done daily.
What temperament do gerbils have?
Gerbils have a bright, active and inquisitive nature. They way they burrow, scratch and dig is both fascinating and fun to watch. Even though they are nocturnal animals, gerbils do not sleep all day and play all night. Instead, they have many sleep/wake cycles throughout the day and night. Gerbils burrow in the ground to sleep, and they love scratching and digging when they are awake. Most gerbils do not bite. If a young gerbil nibbles, it is very easy to break this habit.
Do gerbils require a lot of attention?
While they certainly need attention, gerbils can become distressed by too much handling. When handling a gerbil, never pick it up by the tail! Gerbil tails are extremely delicate and can break off. This is, actually, a defence mechanism in the wild. All members of your household, especially kids, must learn the proper way to pick up a gerbil.
Gerbils and kids
Gerbils can make wonderful pets for both adults and kids. However, the delicate nature of these animals means they can easily suffer internal injuries if a young child squeezes it too hard. Therefore, young kids should always be supervised when they handle a gerbil. They should also remember to never pick a gerbil up by the tail.
What is the lifespan of gerbils?
On average, gerbils live 2 to 5 years. There have been reports about gerbils living up to 8 years, but this is exceptional.
Should gerbils be kept in groups?
Yes, gerbils do need companionship. They naturally live in groups (called colonies), so it would be very wise and kind to keep at least two. Please, do consider buying more than one gerbil for their well-being! However, it is important to remember that females should not be kept in groups larger than two. Otherwise, fighting problems can occur. When buying a pair of gerbils, it’s recommended to find two that already live together. If this is impossible, you will need to use the split-cage method to introduce them. This usually goes well, but it can be difficult. Besides, there is never guarantee of success.
Gerbil’s main needs
Even though gerbils are desert animals and therefore drink less than other rodents, they still need a constant supply of fresh, clean water. A drip feed bottle with a metal spout should be perfect for that. A gerbil’s diet should consist of mixed grain and washed fruit and vegetables. They should occasionally be given sunflower seeds and peanuts. A gnawing block made out of soft wood is necessary for your gerbils to wear down their long teeth.
Gerbils should be housed in a gerbilarium – a large tank with a secure wire lid. Wire cages are not suitable for these animals because they will simply kick the bedding out all the time. The gerbilarium needs to be tidied daily, whereas a thorough cleaning has to be done every two weeks or so.
In the wild gerbils inhabit underground tunnels with several entries and chambers, so be sure to provide your gerbils with plenty of material to dig and tunnel in. This can be dust-free wood shavings or potting compost and chopped straw or hay. Clean kitchen paper and soft hay work great as bedding. Fluffy bedding material should never be used as it can wrap around a gerbil’s limbs and cause injury.
Do not forget to put some toys in the tank, for example cardboard tubes from toilet rolls and wooden cotton reels.
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