Making the Decision: Is a Gerbil Right for You?


So, you’re contemplating bringing a new, small, and furry friend into your life—specifically, a gerbil. This isn’t a decision to be taken lightly.

While gerbils make for fascinating and often low-maintenance pets, they do have specific needs and responsibilities that come along with them.

If you’re asking yourself, “Is a gerbil right for me?” you’re already on the right track.

This blog post offers a comprehensive guide to understanding if a gerbil is the right pet for your lifestyle. We’ll help you make an informed decision from costs to care requirements.

Fun Fact: Gerbils are fantastic diggers. In the wild, they create intricate tunnel systems. How cool is that? For more fascinating comparisons, check out our article on gerbils vs rats differences.

Quick Answer: Is a Gerbil Right for You?

Alright, you’re here for the nitty-gritty, so let’s cut to the chase.

Pros of Owning a Gerbil

  • Low Maintenance: Gerbils are relatively easier to care for than other pets.
  • Affordable: Initial set-up and ongoing costs won’t break the bank.
  • Interactive and Social: These critters are lively and love human interaction.

Cons of Owning a Gerbil

  • Short Lifespan: On average, they live around 3-4 years.
  • Sensitive to Environment: They require a stable habitat with specific temperature ranges.
  • Potential Legal Restrictions: Believe it or not, gerbils are not allowed as pets in some regions.

Still unsure if a gerbil is your jam? No worries, we’ll delve into each point in detail throughout this guide.

For those of you contemplating other small pets, you might find our post on gerbil vs mouse differences useful for comparison.

What is a Gerbil?

So, we’ve covered the quick basics, but what exactly is a gerbil? Well, gerbils are small, burrowing rodents that originally hail from desert regions.

They’re part of the Rodentia order, which means they’re relatives of mice, rats, and hamsters. But don’t get it twisted—gerbils have their own unique charm that sets them apart from other rodents.

Physical Characteristics

Gerbils generally weigh between 2-4 ounces and measure around 4-6 inches in body length.

That’s not counting their tails, which can be almost as long as their bodies! In terms of their fur color, it varies but the most common shades are brown, black, or white.

Behavioral Traits

These critters are highly social and active, especially during dusk and dawn. They love to dig, play, and explore their environment.

They’re generally not aggressive and form strong bonds with their human caretakers as well as other gerbils.

What Makes a Gerbil Unique?

Okay, you’ve got the 411 on what a gerbil is, but let’s dive into what makes these little furballs truly special.

After all, if you’re weighing the pros and cons of having a gerbil, you should know what sets them apart from other pint-sized pets.

Social Needs

Gerbils are social butterflies, or should I say, social furballs? They thrive when they have a buddy or two to hang out with. In fact, they can get lonely and stressed if kept alone.

So, if you plan on adopting a gerbil, consider getting a pair to keep each other company.

Fun Fact: They have a low water requirement, which is a nod to their desert origins. For similar features in other rodents, check out our article on gerbils vs guinea pigs differences.

The Cost of Owning a Gerbil

Let’s talk money, shall we? Owning any pet comes with financial responsibilities, and gerbils are no exception. But don’t sweat it; gerbils are generally one of the more affordable pets to maintain.

Initial Costs

  1. Cage: Expect to shell out around $50 to $100 USD for a decent-sized cage.
  2. Bedding: Budget about $10 USD per month.
  3. Food: A month’s supply usually costs around $5 to $10 USD.

Ongoing Expenses

  1. Food and Treats: Around $5 to $10 USD monthly.
  2. Bedding: Another $10 USD per month.
  3. Toys and Enrichment: Budget about $5 USD per month.

Vet Expenses

You should also account for veterinary costs. An annual check-up usually runs about $50 USD. If your gerbil gets sick, treatment costs can vary widely.

All costs are in United States Dollars (USD) for our US, UK, and Canadian readers.

And for those who like metrics, that cage size could range from 360 to 720 square inches (that’s about 0.23 to 0.46 square meters for our UK folks).

How hard is it to own a gerbil?
Well, in terms of costs, it’s not too hard on the wallet. But remember, owning a pet is a long-term commitment that involves more than just monetary investment.

Gerbil Care 101: What You Need to Know

You’ve got the financials down, but let’s get into the day-to-day stuff. Because hey, gerbils might be low-maintenance, but they aren’t no-maintenance.


Gerbils love to dig and explore, so a spacious cage with a deep bedding layer is crucial. The ideal temperature for a gerbil habitat is between 65–75°F (18–24°C).

You’ll also want to provide nesting material like shredded paper for them to burrow into.


These little guys are omnivores. A balanced diet consists mainly of gerbil-specific food pellets, but they also enjoy occasional treats like fruits, vegetables, and even nuts and seeds.

Exercise and Enrichment

Gerbils are active critters that need plenty of exercise. Exercise wheels, tunnels, and chew toys are great for keeping your gerbil entertained and healthy.

Which is friendlier, a hamster or a gerbil?
Generally speaking, gerbils tend to be more social and less skittish than hamsters. So, a gerbil might be your best bet if you’re looking for a more interactive pet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Alright, let’s get into some common questions people have when considering a gerbil as a pet. These could be the deciding factor for you!

Q1: Is a Gerbil Right for You?

Answer: If you’re looking for a social, active, and relatively low-maintenance pet, a gerbil could be a great fit. However, they require a buddy to keep them company and some space for a proper habitat.

Q2: What Are the Pros and Cons of Having a Gerbil?

Answer: Pros include their social nature, low maintenance, and affordability. Cons might be their need for companionship, and potential legal restrictions.

Q3: How Long Do Gerbils Live?

Answer: On average, gerbils live around 3-5 years. This is a moderate lifespan compared to other small pets, so consider whether you’re ready for that commitment.

Q4: Can Gerbils Live Alone?

Answer: It’s not recommended. Gerbils are social animals and can get lonely and stressed when alone. Ideally, you should adopt them in pairs or small groups.

Q5: How Big Should a Gerbil Cage Be?

Answer: A gerbil cage should be at least 360 square inches (about 0.23 square meters) to provide adequate space for exercise and exploration.

How hard is it to own a gerbil? Not too hard, especially if you’ve got the basics down that we’ve discussed in this blog. Still, they are a commitment and should be cared for responsibly.

Conclusion: Making Your Final Decision

So, there you have it. We’ve covered the what, the why, the costs, and the care involved in owning a gerbil. If you’ve made it this far, you can decide if a gerbil is the right pet for you.

What’s the verdict?
Well, only you can make that call. But if you’re looking for a social, relatively low-maintenance pet that won’t break the bank, a gerbil could be your perfect match.

If you’re still on the fence, maybe you’re curious about how gerbils compare to mice? Check out our article on gerbil vs. mouse differences for another perspective.

Remember, owning a pet is a long-term commitment that requires thoughtful consideration. Make sure you’re ready for the responsibility before diving in.

And hey, if a gerbil isn’t right for you, that’s perfectly okay! There are plenty of other pets out there waiting for a loving home.

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