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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Gerbil

Gerbil

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Traits & behavior

Social
Gerbils are gentle, social and enjoy the companionship of another gerbil (house only same gender pairs who were raised together), as well as interaction with their Pet Parents.

Inquisitive
They are curious and not easily startled, so they're great for busy, active households. Powerful jumpers, Gerbils have powerful hind legs and are strong jumpers.

Burrowers
Gerbils love to hide and burrow into their bedding.

Clean
You'll notice your gerbil grooming herself a lot while she's awake.
 

Things to remember

Lifting & handling
Handle your gerbil gently -- scoop her up in both hands and hold her with cupped hands so she feels safe and secure. Remember to never lift or grip her by her tail.

Special needs
Your gerbil's front teeth never stop growing, so she needs lots of healthy things to chew on like treat sticks and chews.

Exercise
To prevent tail injury, gerbils should only run on a solid-surface exercise wheel.

Safety & cleanliness

Please remember that all pets may bite or scratch, and may transmit disease to humans. Keep your pet's home clean and wash your hands before and after handling your pet or cleaning his home. Infants, young children, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, and the infirm or elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with the pet or its habitat. Consult your doctor for more information.
 

Nutrition

Staple diet
Choose a fortified diet appropriate for gerbils. Fill the bowl approximately 3/4 full.

Fruits & vegetables*
Treat your gerbil to one teaspoon of chopped apples or carrots twice a week. Take care not to overfeed these fresh foods. They contain a lot of moisture and too much can cause an upset stomach.

Treat sticks & chews
These hard and crunchy treats keep your gerbil's front teeth trimmed -- always keep one in the habitat.

Water
Change and fill your gerbil's water bottle with clean water every day.
 

Health

Signs of a healthy gerbil:

  • Clean, bright eyes
  • Soft fur with no bare patches
  • Curious, active behavior
  • Eats and drinks normally
  • Well-formed droppings with no diarrhea

Things to watch for:

  • Overgrown front teeth
  • Bare patches in the fur
  • Diarrhea or discolored droppings for longer than two days
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Weight loss; not eating or drinking normally
  • Sneezing; discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth

If you notice any of the signs described above, please consult a Small Animal Veterinarian as soon as possible.
 

Habitat

Housing
Your gerbil needs a well-ventilated home with a solid floor, large enough for a food dish and water bottle and a hiding area (if one isn't built in). There should be plenty of room for all cage accessories, and for her to move around freely.

Bedding
Gerbils love to hide and burrow, so lots of clean aspen or other appropriate bedding is a must. Line the home with 2"-3" (5-8 cm) of bedding, and change it weekly or more often if needed.

Cage placement
Place the habitat in a cool, low humidity area, out of direct sunlight.
 

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