Gerbils as cute and curious animals that can make great pets, even for beginners. They are active, fun to watch, and come with rather low maintenance, compared to some other pets.
As a whole, gerbils are easy to take care of. They come with a few daily and weekly chores that do not consume too much time. They are rather sturdy and should be kept in pairs. Gerbils can become tame, but they are not necessarily cuddlers.
There are five components have are necessary to provide a long and healthy life for a gerbil. These components are a nutritious and well-balanced diet, a comfortable environment with some equipment, company, treatment in case of an illness or injury, and the possibility to behave naturally thanks to good overall conditions.
The Diet of Gerbils
Gerbils should have access to fresh water at all times. The water can be provided through a bottle, a bowl, or both.
The food should be nutritious and well-balanced to maintain full health and vigor. They should be fed every day with special gerbil food from the pet store. The food can be spread out in the cage. The gerbils will enjoy looking for it everywhere.
In addition to the dried food from the pet store, you should also offer your pets some fresh food.
Vegetables are great, while fruits contain a lot of sugar and should not be fed too much. Both vegetables and fruits should be offered daily, but only in small portions. Fresh food contains a lot of moisture and can cause diarrhea. An alternative to fresh vegetables and fruits is dried veggies and fruits.
Mealworms can be offered as treats. They provide the necessary protein, but also contain a lot of calories, therefore one mealworm per day per gerbil is enough.
Cage of a Gerbil
Gerbils are very curious animals. Even though they are prey animals and tend to hide quickly, they are also interested in getting to know the environment, and love to play in the cage and outside.
If you let them run free in a closed room, they will explore everything they can find. That also means that they might nibble on furniture or things that are lying around.
Gerbils are usually awake for 2 to 4 hours and go back to sleep for the same amount of time. When they are awake, they use that time to dig around in the cage, nibble on everything they can find, clean their fur, and take sand baths. Sand baths are essential to keep their fur clean.
The environment of your pet gerbils should be comfortable for the gerbils with resting areas, places to sleep, and most importantly a lot of space to dig tunnels and nests.
The cage should be placed in a room with natural light, but no direct sunlight, and not close to an air conditioner.
Gerbils are highly social animals. In the wild, they usually live in pairs. One male and one female.
You can keep two females or two males together to prevent reproduction. Siblings usually get along very well with each other. They are very defensive when it comes to their small family. Therefore you should never introduce a new gerbil to an existing couple because they will fight.
Never keep a gerbil on its own. A lonely gerbil will mentally suffer.
Health and Welfare
If your gerbil suffers from any injury or sickness, it is your responsibility to prevent any suffering. If necessary, you should always consult a veterinarian for a diagnosis and treatment.
A gerbil needs to be able to behave normally. This includes all the components mentioned before, to make sure that the gerbil is relaxed, happy, and healthy. Normal behavior can be provided through space, facilities, health, and company.