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Care of your Gerbil


Mongolian gerbil is an animal native to China and Mongolia. The gerbil is adapted to the desert
climate, which is why it produces very little urine (their floor's litter is rarely very wet). Agouti, a pattern of a light stomach and dark back, is the most common color. Most gerbils weigh 24 ounces (65120 grams), with the males being larger than the females. This pet is very adapted to jumping, which needs to be considered when housing the gerbil.

The average gerbil lives 24 years. It is a very curious animal that likes to try and get out and explore.

Rarely does a gerbil bite. The adult gerbils will fight each other if they are not used to being together. The
gerbils are a rare type of rodent; they have monogamous pairing (male and female will mate and stay together). Should you desire to breed the gerbils, you will want to pair up the pups before 2 months of age. In the wild gerbils are nocturnal, yet the captive Mongolian gerbil is moderately active during the day.

It is best to house a gerbil in an aquarium or similar container with a lid. The height should be at least
12 inches and a solid floor is advised. Cedar, redwood, other aromatic wood shavings, and pine shavings from non-kiln dried lumber can cause pneumonia problems and are not recommended for bedding, although aspen shavings or paper bedding are fine to use. Having a lot of bedding for them to burrow into is great fun for the kids to watch them “below ground” in such a large container. The habitat needs to have the ability for you to catch up the gerbil(s) and place into a smaller container for cleaning. The very large habitats can be an issue with urine smell as rodents continually urinate as they move about and cleaning with a very dilute vinegar and water is not possible. Like hamsters, they like toys and exploring different items in their pen. Feed a rodent food intended for gerbils and you can just leave it out all the time. A normal gerbil eats 57 grams of food daily. Daily look to ensure that there are some new stools and that the water is being consumed, especially if using a water bottle. Feeding raisins is not recommended at all. Fermentable items, such as raisins and seeds can contribute to bacterial overgrowths of toxin-producing bacteria; raisins and grapes are also toxic to dogs. As a general rule gerbils and other pocket pets should not have seeds or especially fruit as over 5% of their diet. Vegetables should be limited to 10-15% of the diet. Water should always be provided. When excited or threatened, a gerbil will stomp its foot (as if to warn others). It can be common to see a gerbil so scarred that
they will go into a seizure.

A gerbil is a spontaneous ovulator, which means that the female does not ovulate till after breeding.
Occasionally, a false pregnancy can occur at 1318 days after breeding. Pregnancy lasts usually 2426 days.
Four to six pups are a normal litter size. You can wean the babies at around 3 weeks of age. Remember to pair up the young, and that adults and growing pups can fight if still kept together as a “family”.

Gerbils are interesting pets that do not take much time. There are no vaccines, although we do advise a
fecal examination for internal parasites for most animals, including gerbils. Overall the diseases of
Bordetella pneumonias, Strep. lymphadenitis, bumble foot, tapeworms, epilepsy, Demodex, and sarcoptic mange are fairly rare.

The Staff at the Nelson Road Veterinary Clinic


Diets with seeds; not recommended:
Carefresh Complete for hamsters and gerbils
Wild Harvest
We recommend a pelleted diet because they are complete diets. If you look at any dog, cat or even poultry diets they take that extra step to pelletize the diet for a very good reason. Gerbils eating a diet with seeds in it will only eat specific seeds and not always the whole selection of seeds, let alone the