Is a gerbil the right pet for you?

Gerbils are lively, interesting pets that can be fascinating to watch as they dig, tunnel and climb through their enclosure. They’re most active at night and will often be sleeping during the day when you might want to interact with them.

Gerbils are small, delicate and fast-moving, which can make them difficult to pick up safely. They’re naturally curious animals so might happily jump into your hand to take a treat, but they probably won’t want to be handled more than that. They will also bite if they’re frightened.

If you’re looking for a small pet that likes cuddles and fuss, gerbils probably aren’t the right pet for you. Consider a pet that really enjoys human company, like rats or ferrets, instead.

Should gerbils live in groups?

In the wild, gerbils would live in large groups with plenty of company. Pet gerbils also need the company of other gerbils. It’s best to get two or three that have grown up together. If they know each other already they’ll be less likely to fight in their new home.

It’s best to keep male and female gerbils apart so you don’t end up with lots of baby gerbils to rehome.

Things to consider

Before you commit to getting gerbils read our vets advice on:

  • The five welfare needs – make sure you understand the legal responsibility you take on when you own a pet.
  • Giving your gerbil the ideal home – advice on the type of enclosure they need.
  • Gerbil health – find out how to stop your gerbil getting bored as well as signs of illness to look out for.
  • Your gerbil’s diet – read about the kind of food your gerbil should be eating and how to keep them in shape.
  • How to hold a gerbil safely – a guide to how adults and children should hold gerbils.

The right small pet

Not sure gerbils are the right pet for you? Read about other small pets to find your perfect match!

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The ideal home

Read our vets' advice on setting up the perfect home for your gerbils.

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Gerbil health

Some simple steps you can take to help keep your gerbils healthy. 

Advice from our vets