Gerbils are great animals that you can keep in your home, especially if you have kids that could use a little lesson in becoming responsible for a living creature. Moreover, gerbil habitats that keep the pets healthy are not hard to find and don’t require that much work.
However, if you are still questioning whether this is a good choice or not, keep reading as we’ve done our research to give you the answers you need. This article explores the pros and cons of having a gerbil as a pet, and the first thing you should know is that, just like any other pet, these little animals do require attention on a daily basis.
They are not very hard to take care of and, in the pets category, they are definitely not the most expensive choice you can make, so that’s good to know. For children, gerbils are cute and amusing, and they have the capacity to develop strong bonds with their families and owners.
Therefore, let’s first take a look at what benefits you can have by welcoming a gerbil into your family.
As we’ve already mentioned, unlike other small rodents, these pets are able to bond with their owners which makes them great companions. If you spend enough time with them, they will be more than happy and you will be able to understand each one’s individual personality.
They are by definition curious pets, so you and your family will have a great time watching and interacting with them. Moreover, unlike other rodents such as hamsters, gerbils enjoy being handled and petted, which makes them a good choice for children.
Given their small stature, they are manageable by a child’s hands and, although they are very active, they rarely bite, so there’s little chance of an unwanted result. Since they are so friendly and sociable, gerbils are ideal for kids who want to take care of a pet but have little or no experience.
Costs & maintenance
If you are not looking to spend a fortune on ensuring the best for your future pet, then a gerbil is surely a very good option. First of all, the pet itself is not that expensive to purchase, and the supplies you need such as the cage, food, and water come with a low cost throughout an entire year.
The most expensive part of owning such a pet is the bedding material which needs to be changed weekly or more often if needed, so this might add up to a cost of a couple of hundred dollars per year. However, given that these little pets can also bring you a lot of joy, this might not seem too much at all.
You might also spend some money on other things such as chewing toys and accessories to keep the pets entertained, but again these should not be too expensive and the frequency of purchase is totally up to you. What you will need to get is a wheel so that the little guys can get some exercise, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Although maintenance can be seen as something of a hassle in general, gerbils don’t require extraordinary efforts to be taken care of, especially compared to other rodent pets.
For this reason, although it needs to be done daily and they definitely require attention, care, and affection, this is something that a kid can do and enjoy very much. Now let’s take a look at what might keep you from getting a gerbil as a pet.
Lifespan & messiness
Unfortunately, gerbils have a rather low lifespan that averages from 2 up to 4 years, depending on many factors such as health and living conditions. So, if you are getting such a pet for your kid, you might still need to explain what is going on when the little friend reaches the end of the adventure.
Although gerbils are clean rodents, they love to burrow which means that they might kick the sawdust out of the cage. In turn, you might need to clean the floor and the surrounding area all the time. One solution might be getting an aquarium instead of a cage, as this stops the dust and particles from reaching the floor, resulting in very little mess.
You can also fashion a cover for the cage to get the same result. Overall, these are very clean pets, so this should not keep you from bringing such a lovely animal into your home.
Chewing and living in pairs
Gerbils need to be kept busy and it’s ingrained in their DNA that they should gnaw pretty much all the time. This helps them trim their teeth, so you will need to look for toys or other similar items that you can place in the cage to keep them entertained and happy.
You might have noticed that we keep on referring to gerbils in the plural form, and this is one of the key points of having these pets. They are extremely sociable and they need to live in pairs, since without having company they might become bored, lonely, depressed, and inactive.
This is one of the key particularities of these pets and it’s not one to be ignored. You should never get only one gerbil, but if you want to avoid having to deal with baby gerbils later on, you can get a pair of the same sex.
Being highly active animals, gerbils do need a fair share of exercise and activities every single day, since they love running around and exploring their surroundings. If you want your pets to be healthy, you should handle them every day and allow them to run freely around the house for some time before returning them to the cage.
If you don’t have enough space, you can also get some exercise balls which will keep them entertained on a smaller surface, or you can get a wheel that they can use. However, don’t forget that they need to be let out of the cage at least for a bit, just to keep them from getting bored.