Are you ready for a Gerbil?


Gerbils are very curious animals and make very interesting, lively pets. They are also largely odourless and rarely bite so are popular for children. They can live anywhere up to 4 years old, however the longest recorded living gerbil lived to 8 years old. 

Don’t be fooled by their size, although they are small animals they will still require lots of care and attention throughout their life. Once you are certain you and your family can provide a loving and long lasting home for your gerbil you must consider the following factors.

Selecting your Gerbil

Which breed of Gerbil?

There are many different species of gerbil but only two are kept as pets; the Mongolian gerbil and the fat tailed gerbil. The most popular is the Mongolian gerbil, which is available in up to twenty different coloured coats.

Buy your Gerbil

From a reputable pet shop or breeder. Gerbils can be tamed at any age so do not be put off by age.

What to look for?

Your gerbil should be bright and alert and should move freely and actively around the cage. They should have a glossy coat with no sores or bald patches. Look out for signs of breathing problems and discharge from eyes, ears, mouth and nose.


Gerbils are very sociable animals so really thrive in pairs or small groups; they can become depressed and miserable if left on their own. Suitable pairings would be two males or two females from the same litter. 


Gerbils make great pets, they are non aggressive, curious and rarely bite. They love to be handled and explore new environments.

At home with your Gerbil

At home with your gerbil


Gerbilariums are the preferred housing for your gerbil as they love to burrow which is not possible in standard cages and they are extremely good chewers so are likely to escape from plastic cages. 

A Gerbilarium is a large fish tank with a vivarium mesh lid and filled with a layer of peat, shavings and hay to about 15-20cms. Your gerbil will create a network of burrows so the glass sided gerbilarium will allow you to see the tunnels which is fun to watch and stimulating for the animals. The contents of the gerbilarium should be changed every few weeks and also washed with pet safe disinfectant.


Provide your gerbil with a little house or nest box, which they can feel safe and secure, line this with soft fluffy bedding. Gerbils also enjoy a ‘sand bath’ which they would do naturally in the wild. Provide chews and toys within gerbil housing for optimum stimulation. 


Place the cage in a quiet area away from direct sunlight and protected from draughts.

Settling in Time

Allow your gerbil 24 hours to settle into their new surroundings without handling them. 


Your gerbil will become tame through regular handling, be patient and your gerbil will get to know and trust you. 


Provide your gerbil with a specific gerbil food. Fresh raw vegetables and fruit such as apple can be given in small quantities to provide the necessary vitamins or alternatively add vitamin drops to water. Your local Jollyes can advise you on food treats and supplements for your gerbil.


Avoid lettuce and avocado.

Although gerbils are desert animals and used to conserving water, you need to ensure that there’s always a supply of fresh water available in a drinking bottle.


Looking after your gerbil

Gerbils are known to suffer from overgrown teeth, which can be clipped by your local vets. Provide gnawing material to help reduce the length of teeth

Is a bacterial infection that affects the glands around the nose of gerbils. If your gerbil does not groom properly the glands may become irritable which results in scratching and your gerbil’s nose can become infected. To prevent this give your gerbil a sand bath at least once a week.