Gerbils are cute little rodents that can make great pets. These tiny furballs are energetic, and fun to watch and to play with. It is sometimes assumed that it’s not possible to bond with a gerbil, and these pets can only be watched. This is not true. It is absolutely possible to bond with a pet gerbil. And this is how to do it.
As a whole, gerbils are curious pets that love to explore and play. The best way to bond with a gerbil is to spend time with the pet. Talking to the gerbil, feeding them directly from the hand, and gently stroking them are the best ways to bond with a gerbil and to gain its trust.
Bonding with pet gerbils can take some time and depends on the gerbils’ character, age, and personality and if it is already used to being handled.
Gerbils from pet stores are usually not used to being handled and it can take more time to bond with them, than gerbils from breeders that were handled from a very young age.
If a gerbil is used to being handled, it is much easier to bond with it. The more time you spend with your pets, the quicker they will trust you.
Bringing Pet Gerbils Home
After you brought your new pet gerbils home, they will need some time to adjust to their new place. They will be shy and maybe even scared. All the gerbils they knew are not with them, and every smell is new and different from the smells they were used to.
Don’t try to interact with them right away. They will need at least one day to settle in. They will start to explore their new cage and start digging tunnels after a few hours and sometimes even right away.
The First Steps of Bonding With Gerbils
Before you can cuddle with your gerbils, you will need to gain their trust. The best way to start is to help them get used to you.
Stay close to the cage, let them see you, and talk to them, before trying to touch them. Gerbils will bite, if they feel threatened and they have really sharp teeth, you do want to avoid getting bitten.
Gaining the Gerbils Trust
Feed your pets every day with gerbil food from the pet store. The food can be sprinkled into the cage and the gerbils will enjoy looking for the food everywhere. In addition to the dry gerbil food, you should feed on fresh vegetables and fruits every day. After a few days, your gerbils will already wait for you and for the food. You can put the fresh food and some treats such as mealworms, into a small container and offer the gerbils that food. The gerbils will have to come close to your hand to be able to reach into the container. After they got used to your hand, you can try to offer your pets fresh food directly from your hand.
Do not rush the bonding process. Every gerbil is different and while some gerbils are very curious and will try to hop onto your hand quickly, others might avoid touching your hand for weeks.
The saying “The way to a man’s heart goes through his stomach” can be applied to almost any pet. A gerbil will notice that the best food always comes directly from your hand and will wait for your treats. Always talk to your pets in a calming way and don’t handle them when you are stressed. If you are stressed, your gerbils will feel that and will be stressed, too.
Once your gerbils start to hop onto your hand without hesitation, you can start lifting them. The hand should still stay over the cage, to make sure that the gerbil can jump off into the cage, it if gets frightened.
Gerbils can be handled, but they are not the cuddliest pets. They cuddle with each other, and unlike rats or mice, they will not stay on your shoulder and enjoy being carried around.
Gerbils have furry paws and slip easily. Therefore you should pay attention when you hold them. If they try to walk over your arm, they might slip.
Lisa is one of the two founders of Animal-Knowledge. She has been very interested in animals and insects from a very young age and has owned different kinds of pets such as snails, ants, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, rabbits, a dog, … you get the idea 🙂