Gerbil health and welfare

Portrait of single adult standing in peat filled gerbilarium© Joe Murphy/RSPCAThinking about getting a gerbil or two? Gerbils make fun pets, but they need to be looked after carefully to keep them healthy and happy. Find out more about gerbils on this page, and take a look at our pet search page to find gerbils available for rehoming.

Gerbil fact file

Gerbils are generally diurnal animals, which means they're out and about during the day. They construct deep, dark, underground burrows. Here are some top gerbil facts:

  • There are many species of gerbil, though the Mongolian gerbil is the one most commonly kept as a pet.
  • Gerbils are burrowing rodents and are naturally adapted to desert environments in Africa, India and Asia. They keep themselves busy by digging, and they also like to gnaw.
  • Gerbils can live for up to 3-4 years - some even live longer.
  • Gerbils shred material for nesting, which also helps to keep their teeth short (their teeth never stop growing!).
  • Gerbils are sociable - in the wild, they live in extended families of one breeding pair and several generations of its offspring.
  • Gerbils learn a lot from their parents - for example, favoured foods are learnt from their mothers or from other familiar or related family members.

Read even more gerbil facts in our full Gerbil Fact File.

Understanding your gerbil's needs

Gerbils are characterful animals, and that's why they're often kept by young children. However, their needs are actually very complex, so owning one is a big responsibility. If you own or are responsible for gerbils, even for a short time, make sure you care for all their needs.

Find out everything you need to know about keeping pet gerbils in our series of handy guides, including their environment, diet, behaviour, company and health and welfare.

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