Do Gerbils Enjoy Being Picked Up? Here’s What We Know

They’re small and fuzzy and they’re always hopping around. You can’t help but feel like you want to pick up one of these little guys and cuddle him for a while. But do they enjoy being held, or is it just too stressful for them? Here’s what we know about how gerbils enjoy being picked up.
The ultimate question you’re here for is, do gerbils like to be picked up?
The answer is yes. Gerbils are among the easiest animals to pick up, and they don’t mind a bit. They love being petted, stroked, and embraced. They love the touch of warm hands on them. In fact, it’s great for your relationship with your gerbil to make sure you play with it as much as possible. However, there are a lot of considerations you should know about before you start reaching in and picking them up.

Are gerbils affectionate to humans?

Gerbils have found to understand trust and their owners. This is especially apparent when it comes to humans picking them up. Although humans and gerbils are different species, there’s not a lot of difference in their behavior. It’s easy to see why gerbils would trust humans.
Gerbils are extremely social animals and enjoy spending time with people. They live in colonies that contain multiple males and females, as well as several litters of young. They’re very social and enjoy the company of their friends.
I remember when I adopted my gerbil, he had already known several other humans before me. From the moment I took him out of his cage, he allowed me to pick him up and cuddle him.
It becomes clear when you notice the differences between a gerbil’s reaction to strangers versus that of its owner. You can even tell that Gerbils get sad when the owner’s not around.

Why do gerbils like to be held?

Like humans, gerbils love being held. They are social animals and they love the company of others. It doesn’t seem to make a difference when it comes to what species they interact with. It could be humans or other gerbils.
Strangers might get the cold shoulder, but it’s earned trust that makes a gerbil attracted to its owner. They’ve found out that this is a safe place where they can rest.
Basically, there’s a difference between a gerbil’s reaction with strangers versus the owner.
In the wild, gerbils are usually smaller animals and often times considered prey to many larger animals. So naturally, it would instinctively be afraid of larger creatures like humans. However, once trust is established, natural instincts no longer become an issue.
Gerbils are intelligent creatures and they are also incredibly sociable as well.

Are gerbils afraid of being picked up?

Gerbils are generally not too scared about being picked up. I would say that they are not exactly bothered by it, but they might show a little bit of discomfort about it and even recoil for a second or two. This is only apparent when strangers are doing it.
You might experience this issue when you first meet your gerbil.
Gerbils need trust before they allow this to happen. Once you have established trust, then they will be a lot more comfortable about you picking them up.
Always remember that if you were being put into a cage for the first time, and someone came up to you and picked you up and tried to cuddle you, what would your attitude be about that?
In my opinion, I think gerbils are really comfortable about being held once they are used to it. I want to reiterate that they are just like humans with human behavior.

How to get your Gerbil to trust you

Preparing your gerbil for the idea of being picked up is a long process and it’s something that needs to be carefully planned out. When you first get your gerbil, don’t pick it up or try to cuddle it right away.
When you do decide to pick up your gerbil, make sure that you’re gentle with them. You don’t want to hurt them or scare them so when they recoil slightly, just slowly put them back down on their feet and try again later. Give your gerbil some time before picking it up again so that they learn that this is no big deal and just something fun they can do every now and then.
Below are just a few tips for getting started.

Phase 1: The first time you meet

Gerbils are easily scared and can often feel a great sense of anxiety when they are in an unfamiliar situation. Being moved to an unfamiliar home can be scary not only for humans but for gerbils as well
Just make sure to give your gerbil a lot of time and plenty of space in the initial stages of his or her new home. Provide it with its of care, try to play with it for a little bit. But if you see it’s still scared and backs away, give it more time.

Phase 2: Baby steps

Once your gerbil seems to be making progress, you can introduce your hand to it. If it’s close to the edge of the cage, try petting its fur from outside the cage. Offer it food or something to play with.
At this stage of your relationship, don’t forcibly try to touch the gerbil. You can inch your hand towards it so that it can sniff your hand and if back away, just stay calm. Again, this is the stage of building trust.

Phase 3: Recognition

This point in time is when your gerbil no longer identifies you as a threat. Try opening your hands to it. Some gerbils will even travel towards your hand and climb right in, but if you don’t experience this, try putting some food inside your palm.
Don’t worry about petting or stroking your gerbil at this time. It’s more of a time for getting your gerbil to understand that you want to be friends with it. And the best way to know you’re moving in the right direction is to let your gerbil trust you first.
You’ll notice that all of these initial phases have a lot to do with the gerbil doing most of the work. That’s because trust is a priority and that’s something only the gerbil can learn over time.

Phase 4: Trust

When your gerbil has no problem at all climbing onto your palm and eating the treats you have for it, then it’s time to gently stroke and shows them your love.

Gerbil being held by owner - Tech Guide Central
Gerbil being held by owner – Tech Guide Central

How to hold your gerbil: The scooping method

After trust has been confirmed and your gerbil sees you as a friend, it’s time to learn how to properly pick your gerbil.
It’s been traditionally labeled as a particular way to pick up very small pets like lizards and mice and even gerbils. It’s called the scooping method or technique.

  1. Cup both your hands into your gerbil’s cage with your palms pointing upwards.
  2. Bring your cupped hands together scooping up your gerbil.
  3. Carry it around stroking and playing with it.
  4. When bringing it back to its cage, cup and scoop up your gerbil.
  5. Place it back in the cage with your hands laid flat with your palms up allowing your gerbil to move off your hands by itself.

Advice for holding Gerbils safely

It’s absolutely necessary that you hold your gerbil care, providing safety and security at all times.

  • Your hands are the safest place for your gerbil.
  • Never let your gerbil loose while you’re carrying it. Gerbils could easily get injured if they were to fall down or even worse, get away from you and run away never to be seen again.
  • Always provide a gentle grip for your pet so as not to stress it out. Too tight of a grip could potentially suffocate your gerbil.
  • Speak in a soft yet firm voice to your gerbil.
  • Never drop a gerbil into its confine as you may hazard harming them.
  • Continuously convey your gerbil in cupped hands. This will decrease the odds of them hopping and injury.
  • Try not to snatch your gerbil or firmly squeeze them.
  • Never get your gerbil by its head, appendages, or tail. This is pitiless, possibly excruciating, and could cause your gerbil a lot of stress and pain.
  • Do whatever it takes not to hold your gerbil excessively far off the ground. On the off chance that they escape from your hands, it’s a long way down.
  • Be wary if permitting youngsters to get a gerbil. The danger of being dropped is more noteworthy in youthful hands and ought to never be permitted solo.
  • Play with your gerbil regularly as this will keep them all around sociable.
  • You should know if your gerbil doesn’t want to be handled or picked. Do what the gerbil says.


The conclusion should be about how, as humans, gerbils are actually sociable animals and as with humans, they require trust before they can be handled and played with. In order for your gerbil to gain your trust, you need to take it easy and give it time. Once the gerbil trusts you as a friend or family member, then you are free to pick them up in the scooping method.

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Author: John