Rockstar Gerbils

Gerbil Behaviour




Gerbils make for playful, curious and inquisitive pets. They are fun to watch as they do not stay still often - always digging, climbing, running, chewing and investigating. Generally they are very easy to care for, rarely if ever bite and are great entertainment in the household. Most pet gerbils, and the type that we at Rockstar Gerbils like to breed are Mongolian Gerbils, although several other species of gerbil exist and are kept as pets.                                                


In the wild gerbils live underground in a network of tunnels in family groups. They are sochen ial animals and unlike Syrian Hamsters, they cannot be kept alone. Lonely gerbils can become depressed and suffer from ill health as a result, so we only send our gerbils home in pairs, and we recommend keeping gerbils in groups of two for easy management.                                    


Gerbils are not naturally aggressive toward humans, but can be territorial towards unknown gerbils. Pups bond with each other very easily, but once a gerbil has established its "clan" they are fiercely devoted to it. If you need to introduce one gerbil to another we have some advice for you here: Helpful Tips for Introducing gerbils.                                                                    


When frightened or ‘alert’ gerbils will thump their back legs on the ground. This thumping or drumming behaviour is your gerbil warning other gerbils of potential dangers. You may see your gerbil start to drum his back legs if he is stressed, nervous or hears a strange noise. When one gerbil starts to stomp their feet, other gerbils will start to drum along and so you may find that music or other household noises can cause your gerbil to display this behaviour. If you see this it is always a good idea to check on what is stressing your pets - is there a cat or dog nearby? Is the TV too loud? Are there other gerbils around?  If this happens often it is best to make sure you remove the stressor or relocate your gerbil to a more quiet and stress free location in the house. 


Gerbils are diurnal which means they are awake in the day just like us! However, they do require quite a bit of sleep and will often nap in the day time. As your gerbil becomes used to you and your routine it will likely adapt so that he is active at the same times that you are. Often my gerbils become most active in the early evening when I am home.                                  





Gerbils are very clean animals and will often groom themselves and each other. This is important for social interaction and can be a sign of affection and also dominance. It helps establish the gerbil "pecking order" as well as helps keep them nice and clean. 


Unlike us, gerbils do not need to be bathed in water (barring unusual and emergency circumstances) but they do appreciate being offered a sand bath to help keep clean. By rolling in the sand the gerbil is able to remove dirt and excess oils from its fur and is important for enrichment. A jar of sand may be left in the gerbil's enclosure, or offered during playtime in a safe and secured environment. If you give your gerbil access to a sand bath they will have lovely shiny and healthy coats.                                





Like most rodents, your gerbil’s teeth will continue to grow through his life. If not given something to chew gerbils will chew on anything available. This includes items such as cage bars, their water bottles, food dish and the plastic rims of aquariums. Gerbils are fanatic chewers. So we do recommend giving your gerbil a chewing outlet. There are a number of commercial chews available that you can provide for your pet, and his diet of seeds and nuts will help keep his teeth short as well.                                 


You can give your gerbil toilet roll or cardboard to chew - it will keep him busy and help you recycle! Just be cautious to ensure you do not give him anything with plastic or glue.                                                  


Wooden toys and houses are great ideas but will eventually get chewed up and have to be replaced - if you wish to keep his house or food dish chew proof you can use a glass jar or ceramic pot. This also makes these items much easier to clean and sanitize.