Gerbils come from the rodent family and make excellent pets. No matter if you are young or old, a gerbil will be able to adapt in your family once you have handled a few necessities, which contribute to the health and well-being of your new pet. A part of the rodent family, gerbils are small and curious animals. They do not bite often and they are very entertaining to watch.
You can purchase gerbils for a relatively fair price by visiting the pet store. However, many people recommend that you go to a breeder instead of a pet store as things are handled in a more efficient way. Additionally, your pets may come out healthier all around.
Shelters usually have a large number of gerbils as well because people will buy them and decide after awhile that they no longer want them. Whatever you choose, you will need to look for certain things when picking one out. You will also need to know how to care for them once you bring them home. The following tips are all things you will need to consider when caring for a gerbil.
- Examine your future pet. There are going to be a number of things you want to look for in your gerbil before you even attempt to bring a gerbil home. This isn't going to be a matter of just choosing a color you like and heading off with your new pet. A good look at the gerbil you want is going to be important to ensure the overall health of the animal. You should make sure the gerbil's eyes are bright and clear.
There should not be any mucus in the eyes either. If their eyes check out okay, you should then look for bite marks. You aren't going to want a gerbil with bite marks because this could mean that the gerbil is prone to getting into fights with other animals. Finally you will want to pick a gerbil that has smooth, soft fur with a tail that is in good shape. You'll know the tail is okay if there is a tuft of hair at the end.
- Buy your gerbil a playmate. Gerbils need to have the entertainment and affection of other gerbils. In fact, it's been proven that if a gerbil lives with at least one other gerbil, it will live a longer and happier life. The typical lifespan for a gerbil is only two to four years. As a pet owner, you should try to do everything you can to ensure that this is a happy, fulfilling time for your pet.
Another great reason to have more than one gerbil is that the more gerbils you have, the less likely they are to want to escape. This is due to the fact that they have someone to keep them busy at all times. Of course, they do reproduce quite frequently so if you do not want to have a bunch of gerbil babies running around, then you should buy two of the same gender.
It is rare to have two gerbils that will not get along with one another. However, on occasion, this does happen. If your gerbils do not get along, then you should put them in separate cages. However, it is an extremely rare occurrence. Unlike dwarf hamsters, and other rodents, gerbils do not try to dominate one another when they are older. They would much rather play and share their living space together with one another.
You should note that female gerbils do best with one other gerbil while males do better in groups of three or four. However, anything larger than that is too much and will lead to fighting. It is best to buy gerbils in pairs if at all possible because of their need for companionship.
- Create a good home for your gerbil. The most popular type of home for most gerbils is going to be an aquarium. It is best to go with glass for a number of reasons. First, gerbils tend to chew on things. This means that they could chew through the plastic aquariums after time. This leaves out wire cages for the same reason. Of course, wire is also bad because gerbils sometimes rub up against the walls of the cage and the wire bars will scratch their flesh.
The hardest cage for a gerbil to escape from is going to be a glass aquarium with a tight-fitting wire or air-mesh lid. On the inside of your gerbil's new home, he will need two or three inches of bedding. Cedar can be deathly to your gerbil due to oils in the wood which can cause serious health problems. Breeders recommend CareFresh, which is made of cellulose fibers. Once you have the bottom down, you'll need to add some things for the gerbils to make their nests. They will want the bedding to be soft so you can place in such things as toilet paper, cotton balls, and strips of paper.
- Keep your gerbil groomed properly. The good news is that gerbils are fairly clean animals on their own. You will not need to bathe them or handle any issues that are typical when grooming pets. The most common grooming issue you will deal with as a pet owner will be keeping the cage clean for your gerbils and laying down new bedding as needed. Generally, you will know when the cage needs cleaning by the smell. However, it's good to clean the cage anywhere from weekly to monthly based on your gerbils and the necessity factor.
- Medical issues - Gerbils usually are not going to need check-ups like other animals would. However, it is still important for you to have a vet that you can go to if something comes up. One thing to watch for is your gerbil's behavior. If your gerbil seems to be sick and lets his grooming go and is not eating, then he needs to be seen by the vet immediately. You should also look for his behavior with the other gerbils. If one is not playing with the others, then that could be a sign that something is wrong.
- Keep them busy - Your gerbil is going to need to be entertained or else he will work to find trouble. The good news is that gerbils are usually easily entertained. They love toys. Feel free to add some to their cage. Unlike some animals, you aren't going to need to spend an arm and a leg on toys. In fact, most gerbils love playing with junk you have around the house.
You can give them paper towel or toilet paper rolls when you are finished with the paper on them or for a special treat you could place some non-treated wood or chew blocks into their cage. Exercise is going to be important to sustain a healthy lifestyle though this should not be an issue because gerbils are fairly hyper animals.
- Know what to give them to eat and drink - You are going to want to feed your gerbil a balanced diet or else he could suffer health problems as he ages. Gerbils will eat nearly anything though they should stay away from fattening foods that are not good for them. You can feed them pre-packaged pellets that you buy in any store with a pet department. However, it is recommended that your gerbil's diet includes more than just these pellets. You can also feed your gerbil fruits, vegetables, and small insects.
For snacks, give them a few seeds, such as pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, because while fatty, they absolutely love them and a few won't hurt when they are being good. Your best bet for feeding is going to be to place the food in a heavy dish.
Some people sprinkle the food around the cage, but when you do this, the gerbils tend to miss some and it rots in the cage. As for water, the gerbil's cage needs to have a water bottle attached. You should add fresh water as needed or at least on a daily basis. You can check the bottle by tapping the hose. If no droplets of water come out, then the hose is plugged up and you need to replace the bottle immediately as your gerbils are not getting any water.
- Taming the beasts - Your gerbil needs to be tame enough to be handled. You need to inspect your gerbil often to ensure he is healthy and going to stay that way. That means you need to look in his eyes and check the color and for mucus, make sure his nose isn't bloody, and he is free from bites and scratches from other gerbils.
You should also check his teeth and his breathing. If your gerbil is wild, it will be hard for you to do this. Most gerbils are going to run when they see your hand enter the cage. However, the more you handle them, the more accepting they will be to you touching them, and the more tame they will become.