31 Fascinating Facts about Gerbils!

Gerbils are small mammals that originate in Asia. They have a long tail with fur and weigh about 55 to 100 grams when fully grown. Gerbils make great pets, but care should be taken to provide them with the right environment because they can overheat if not kept cool enough. This article has 35 fascinating facts about these animals!

Number 1: Baby gerbils are called pups

It’s not surprising that these little cuties are called pups. They look like baby puppies at birth, but only smaller.

Number 2: Gerbils are born blind, deaf, and hairless

Right after birth, you might take notice that gerbils can’t see at all. That’s because their eyes are still underdeveloped and it’ll likely take more than 10 days until they finally start to open their eyes to see. Because of this, baby gerbils won’t survive without their mother.

Number 3: Gerbils originated from the desert

Gerbils are originally thought to have come from the desert areas of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Most pet gerbils are better classified as Mongolian gerbils.

Number 4: Gerbils don’t urinate much

Gerbils rarely urinate and a lot of this has to do with their origins. Being from sandy regions with very little water, gerbils naturally retain water for longer periods. They don’t need as much water as other rodents either.

Number 5: Gerbils can live up to 7 years

But this depends on the species of a gerbil. For example, Great gerbils live 2 to 4 years, while the fat-tailed gerbil can live up to 7 years.

Number 6: Gerbils as pets are illegal in Hawaii and California

These rodents flourish in climate and environments similar to their origins. California and Hawaii are afraid that if these creatures get loose, they can create a disturbance in the natural habitat of the native animals.

Number 7: Gerbil teeth never stop growing

A gerbil’s incisors will always grow throughout the entire life of the gerbil. If they lost a tooth, it would just grow back without any issues. Gerbils usually grind their teeth to make sure it doesn’t get too long. If it does get long, then it might be harmful even to the gerbil.

Providing chew toys can help keep your gerbil’s teeth healthy and strong.

Number 8: Gerbils can carry diseases

There are lots of diseases that can spread from gerbil to humans.  Some of which include, Campylobacteriosis, Salmonellosis, Hantavirus infection, Lymphocytic choriomeningitis, Rabies, Rat-bite fever, Tularemia, and Hymenolepiasis (dwarf tapeworm infection).

Number 9: Gerbils are fast

They can run up to 6km/hour.

Number 10: Gerbils are often friendly and sociable

Gerbils can be friendly and sociable. Gerbils that have social lives live happier and longer. It’s not recommended to leave a gerbil by itself because this does lead to depression and a shorter lifespan.

Number 11: Gerbils are territorial

Gerbils use scent glands to mark their territory.

In the wild, gerbils live in a hierarchical society with dominant males (called alpha males) and females.

They are constantly marking their territory. Males will typically do this excessively resulting in very sore areas of scent glands that are located close to the middle of their tummy.

Number 12: Gerbils are prone to seizures

According to Pet coach, as much as 40% of gerbils can get seizures. It’s an inherent trait that pretty much guarantees the risk of seizures in gerbils that have it. The younger they are, the more prone they are to getting seizures. Seizure occurrences usually ease off by the time they reach adulthood.

Number 13: Gerbils bang their tails to ward off predators

When a gerbil feels threatened, it will bang its tail against the ground or other surface to make noise. This is an instinctive behavior that helps keep them safe from predators and intruders looking for food.

Number 14: Gerbils build complex structures underground

Gerbils can build complex and elaborate structures underground, including tunnels, caves, and mazes. You could say there’s an architectural mentality in gerbils.

These gerbils even create designated rooms like one for living and one for sleep.

Number 15: Gerbil underground lairs are deep

Records have shown that gerbils will burrow and create their home as deep down as 10 feet underground.

Number 16: Gerbils live together in “clans”

Gerbils will usually stick together similar to how villages are in humans. If a gerbil from one clan bumped heads with a gerbil from another clan, they would fight until the aggressor was chased away.

Number 17: Gerbils are smart

Along with building an amazing maze of burrows, gerbils can also be trained to do tricks. They’re very smart and can even remember a trick after months of not doing it!

Gerbils have been known to carefully watch their parents who show them how to survive out in the wild. They even learn from their parents what to eat and what not to eat.

Number 18: Gerbils don’t live long

They usually live between 3-5 years as pets.

Number 19: Like many animals, gerbils have eyes that are on the side of their heads

Having eyes on the side of their heads enables gerbils to better see what’s happening on both sides of them. In the wild, it is believed that this allows animals to quickly react and escape from predators.

Number 20: Gerbils can become pregnant again right after giving birth

There is strong evidence that gerbils can become pregnant again right after giving birth. This means they could have up to seven pups at a given time! It takes about 24 days for the gestation period of one litter, so you’ll likely be able to find yourself with another baby just by waiting patiently.

Number 21: Gerbils usually live in large colonies in the wild

In the wild, gerbils usually live in large colonies with an established social hierarchy. In captivity, they can become less territorial and more solitary creatures.

Number 22: Gerbils have been domesticated as pets since the 1860s

The Mongolian gerbil was the first recorded gerbil to be domesticated. A French missionary, Father Armand David, found the animal while traveling through Mongolia and China. Some gerbils were caught and sent to Japan where they were bred.

Number 23: Gerbils can jump high

They can jump just over afoot. This is a mechanism that is believed to help them escape predators. They have really powerful legs.

Number 24: Gerbils are also known as desert rats

In the wild, gerbils are usually found in regions of less than twelve inches of rainfall per year and it is believed that they can survive for long periods without water.

They are naturally found in the sandy plains of the Middle East, Africa, and Asian countries.

Number 24: Gerbils can shed their tail to avoid getting captured

Gerbils can shed their tail if it is grabbed by a predator. This tail will not grow back. They will permanently lose it.

Number 25: Gerbils can have tails as long as their entire bodies

For example, the Mongolian gerbil’s body length is about 120mm, while its tail can be as long as 120mm!

Number 26: Gerbils squeal and thump when they sense danger

This is a form of communication with other gerbils to warn them about the potential threat. While they are capable of making noise for long periods, this is an efficient way to communicate in short bursts while conserving energy.

Number 27: There are 100’s of species of gerbils

Some examples include the Mongolian, Fat-Tailed, and Pallid. They share certain characteristics such as their long tail which can be as long or a bit longer than their body. They are share similarities and differences in their traits.

Gerbil close up
Gerbil close up

Number 29: Gerbils use sand to bath themselves

Gerbils prefer to roll around in the sand to get rid of dirt from their fur. They prefer sand over water.

Number 30: Gerbils are loving creatures

Gerbils love to be groomed and they love interacting with their owners. They love to be held.

Number 31: Gerbils are playful creatures

Gerbils love to play. You will even see them wrestling with their fellow gerbils.

My final thoughts

Well that’s pretty much all. Some of these things actually really surprises me. Gerbils are incredible pets and so I hope you enjoyed the content.

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Author: John