15 Pros and Cons: Is a Gerbil the Right Pet for You?


If you’re considering bringing a small furry friend into your life, you might have heard that gerbils make for charming companions. But how do you know if a gerbil is the right pet for you?

Knowing the pros and cons of gerbil ownership is crucial to making an informed decision. That’s precisely what this comprehensive guide aims to provide.

Whether you’re a first-time pet owner or looking to add a new member to your animal family, understanding the benefits and challenges of caring for a gerbil is essential.

From their low-maintenance lifestyle to the responsibilities you’ll need to consider, this blog post will cover every facet of gerbil care, behavior, and the financial aspects involved.

The Pros of Having a Gerbil

Let’s jump into the good stuff—why owning a gerbil could be the best decision you’ll make this year.

From being easy to care for to being child-friendly, gerbils bring a lot to the table. So let’s break down the top eight pros of getting yourself one (or maybe two!) of these adorable critters.

Low Maintenance: A Busy Person’s Dream Pet

How high maintenance are gerbils?

The short answer: not very! Gerbils are pretty low-key when it comes to care requirements. You won’t find yourself constantly cleaning their cages or worrying about special dietary needs.

They’re perfect for people with busy lifestyles who still want to experience the joys of pet ownership.

Social Creatures: You’ll Never Feel Alone

Gerbils are super social animals. These little guys love to interact and play, Whether with you, other family members, or even other gerbils.

Socializing them is easy, making them fantastic companions for anyone looking for some animal affection.

Kid-Friendly: An Introduction to Responsibility

Gerbils make for excellent pets for families with children. They’re gentle, easy to handle, and not overly complicated to care for, providing an excellent opportunity for kids to learn about animal husbandry and responsibility.

Minimal Odor: A Breath of Fresh Air

Unlike some other small pets, gerbils are relatively odor-free. With essential cleanliness and a well-ventilated cage, your home will stay smelling fresh, making it easier to maintain a pleasant living environment.

Intelligence and Trainability: Not Just Cute, but Smart Too!

Gerbils are more than just adorable; they’re also intelligent and can be trained to do simple tricks. You can even teach them to come when called or run through a mini obstacle course.

Small Living Space Required: Perfect for Apartments

No need for a big backyard or even a spare room. A sufficiently spacious cage is all that’s required for your gerbil’s habitat. They adapt well to smaller living spaces, making them ideal for apartment dwellers.

Healthy Lifespan: A Long-Term Companion

Gerbils generally live for around 3-5 years, giving you ample time to build a bond with them. With proper care, these pets can be a part of your life for a good few years, providing endless love and companionship.

Affordable Care Costs: Easy on the Wallet

Keeping a gerbil won’t break the bank. From their food to cage setup, the overall pet budget required for a gerbil is quite reasonable, especially when compared to other types of pets.

So there you have it—the top eight pros of having a gerbil as your pet. If these advantages resonate with you, a gerbil might be your perfect pet match.

But before you jump into the fluffy world of gerbil ownership, let’s take a look at the other side of the coin—the cons.

The Cons of Having a Gerbil

Now that we’ve covered all the awesome reasons to get a gerbil, it’s time for some real talk.

No pet is perfect, and gerbils are no exception. Before you make the commitment, let’s delve into the seven cons that could make you think twice about bringing a gerbil into your home.

Risk of Escape: Tiny Houdinis

You might wonder, Can gerbils escape from their cages? The answer is a solid yes.

Gerbils are natural escape artists. They’re curious creatures who love to explore, and if there’s a weak spot in their cage, they’ll find it. Make sure to invest in a secure, escape-proof cage to mitigate this risk.

Specialized Diet: Not Your Average Pantry Staples

While gerbils aren’t overly complicated to feed, they do require a specialized diet that can’t be substituted with food from your pantry.

You’ll need to buy gerbil-specific food to meet their nutritional needs, adding a slight complexity to their care.

Chew, Chew, Chew: Potential for Destruction

Gerbils need to chew to keep their teeth healthy. If not given appropriate items to gnaw on, they might turn their attention to less desirable things, like the bars of their cage or household furniture, if they manage to escape.

Limited Availability: Not Always Easy to Find

Depending on where you live, gerbils might not be readily available at local pet stores, requiring you to seek out specialized breeders or even consider adoption.

Sensitive to Environment: Temperature and Noise Matter

Gerbils are sensitive to their surroundings. Extreme temperatures and high noise levels can stress them out, so you’ll need to keep their living conditions stable.

They prefer a temperature range of 65–75°F (18–24°C) and moderate noise levels.

Veterinary Care: Not Every Vet is a Gerbil Expert

Finding a vet that specializes in small rodents or gerbils specifically may be a bit of a challenge. You’ll need to ensure you have access to appropriate vet visits for routine check-ups and emergencies.

Not Ideal for Singles: Loneliness Can Be an Issue

Gerbils are social animals and can suffer from loneliness if kept alone. You’ll often need to get at least two to keep each other company, doubling some aspects of care like cage space and food.

So, while gerbils offer many benefits, some downsides should be considered. Weigh these pros and cons carefully to decide if a gerbil is right for you.

The Financial Aspect of Owning a Gerbil

So you’re pretty excited about the idea of getting a gerbil, but hold up—let’s talk money. Owning any pet comes with its own set of financial responsibilities, and gerbils are no different.

Understanding the cost can help you decide if you’re really ready to commit to these furry little friends.

Initial Investment: Cage and Accessories

First and foremost, you’ll need a quality cage. Depending on the material and features, this could set you back anywhere from $30 to $100 USD.

And don’t forget about the accessories: water bottles, feeding dishes, and toys. All in all, your initial setup might cost around $150 to $200 USD.

Ongoing Costs: Food and Bedding

Your gerbils will need a consistent supply of specialized food, which usually costs around $10 to $20 USD per month. Bedding is another recurring expense, around $10 USD a month, depending on your chosen type and brand.

Veterinary Care: Plan for the Unexpected

Vet visits are another financial aspect to consider. While not every vet specializes in gerbils, those who do may charge a premium for their specialized skills.

An annual check-up might be around $50 USD, not including any emergency visits or medication, which can quickly add up.

Lifespan: A Long-Term Commitment

Gerbils live for around 2-4 years. So, if we do some quick math, the lifetime cost of owning a gerbil can range from $420 to $1,080 USD without accounting for unexpected expenses.

Fun Facts:

  • Gerbils have a lower ownership cost than other common pets like dogs or cats.
  • The cost of owning two gerbils isn’t much higher than owning one, given they can share many resources like food and bedding. Learn more about this in our article on Understanding Gerbil Sleep Habits.

In terms of currency, the costs we’ve discussed are in USD. For UK readers, the range would be approximately £310 to £800, and for Canadians, around CAD 520 to CAD 1,340.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Alright, you’ve got the rundown on the pros and cons, but chances are you still have some burning questions about gerbil ownership. We’ve gathered the most commonly asked queries here to help you understand what it means to be a proud gerbil parent.

Q1: How Do I Introduce Gerbils to Other Pets?

Introducing gerbils to other pets, especially predators like cats and dogs, must be done carefully and gradually. Always supervise interactions and ensure both animals are comfortable before allowing them any closer.

Q2: Can Gerbils Live Outside?

Gerbils are indoor pets and should not be kept outside. They are sensitive to temperature fluctuations and are at risk of escape or predation if housed outdoors.

Q3: How Often Do Gerbils Need to Be Fed?

Gerbils usually eat about one (1) tablespoon of food per day. It’s best to feed them in the morning or evening and check their food supply regularly to ensure they get the nutrients they need.

Q4: What Is the Best Bedding for Gerbils?

Aspen or paper-based bedding is generally the best choice for gerbils. Avoid cedar or pine bedding as they can cause respiratory issues.

Q5: How Do Gerbils Communicate?

Gerbils communicate through various vocalizations, body postures, and even scent markings. Paying attention to these can give you insights into your pet’s mood and needs.

Conclusion: Is a Gerbil the Right Pet for You?

We’ve covered a lot of ground here, from the joys of gerbil companionship to the responsibilities that come with it. Now, it’s time to ask the ultimate question: Are gerbils worth it?

Owning a gerbil can be an enriching experience. These small, intelligent critters offer a lot of love and entertainment for relatively little upkeep.

They can be a great addition to families, couples, or even individuals looking for a low-maintenance pet.

However, it’s crucial to be mindful of the cons, such as the risk of escape and the need for specialized care. Consider your lifestyle, your willingness to learn about gerbil care, and whether you’re prepared for a long-term commitment.

Every pet needs love, attention, and proper care to thrive. If you can provide these things and are excited about the unique qualities a gerbil brings into a home, then go ahead—take the plunge into the delightful world of gerbil ownership.

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