I Want A Gerbil-help!

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CreamCheese

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I'm looking into getting a gerbil, but there aren't a lot of trust worthy care guides out their, and all the gerbil forums are very sketchy, if anyone has/had a gerbil some help would be greatly appreciated!
I've seen a few sites that say a 10 gallon tank is big enough for them, but I'm highly skeptical, could anyone verify that this is true? Thanks!
I've also heard that they should be kept in pairs, is this like how guineapig said should be kept in pairs, but if they aren't they'll still do fine? Or is it more serious?
Are exersize balls safe/ recommended for them?
About how often will I need to buy bedding?
Feel free to share any additional information, thanks!
 

Tiny

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We had two gerbils as a family when I was young, so a) I'm in no way an expert, b) I have no idea if we did things 'right' and c) I'm an old fart so my recollection might be a little sketchy :))

Literally the only things I remember are:
- We kept a pair of males. I'm under the impression that they're sociable, so it's not recommended to keep them alone (have no idea if more than two is recommended though). Certainly, our two kept each other fine company.
- We also had (at separate times) mice and hamsters. I recall they were friendlier towards us than any hamsters we'd had, and also diurnal (had to look up that spelling lol).
- They were also less stinky than hamsters or mice (funny what you remember when you're 10!). Don't know if this is an actual fact or just my recollection!
- We kept them in a regular standard small animal cage, must've been about 2ft X 1ft.

Sounds like you've done some research but are finding the 'right' info hard to come by. Where are you? I'm sure there must be some relevant local guidelines that'll be fairly reliable. For example, if you're in the UK, look up RSPCA info. I imagine actual care info will be fairly universal, but there's a possibility laws, etc, might vary between countries (i.e. I know with guinea pigs it's unlawful in some countries to not keep them in pairs).

I just Googled 'RSPCA guidelines for gerbils':

Gerbils - Gerbil welfare - Tips, advice, health
 

Tiny

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Okay, just seen from other threads that you're in America. Ta-da, there's the American Gerbil Society ;)

AGS Gerbils Home
 

Flutterby

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Gerbils are fantastic pets, other than guinea pigs they are my favorite rodent. They are social and are best to be kept in same sex pairs as any bigger groups have a higher chance of de-clanning. For two gerbils you'd need at least a 2ft x 1ft glass tank with or without a topper, but I recommend a 3ft tank to be honest, that's what my pairs are in. With handling gerbils come on leaps and bounds, they are very intelligent. They need dust free bedding, lots of it to burrow in and really all their toys need to be wood of metal as they are major chewers and plastic can cause toxicity. They don't smell and are generally easy to care for.
 

acapae

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I don't know about measurements in gallons, but ethical minimum for a pair that good UK rescues use is a 2.5ft tank (or an extra deep or extra tall 2ft tank). Most gerbils also appreciate tank toppers because although in the wild they do dig tunnels, a lot of their waking time is spent hopping about. And from an owner pov they're helpful for giving space for sand baths, wheels, and food. However the dimensions of the topper are extra on top of the tank size, rather than being included in the overall dimensions for working out size vs number of gerbils.

I have a pair in a 4ft tank with full length topper. I've not cleaned them out in pushing 8 months. I do semi-regularly remove the top layer of tank substrate, but that's more to stop it overflowing when I give them more things to chew up, than because I need to for smell purposes. Mine have a mixture of substrates (basically as much variety as possible, currently 4 substrates even before we start counting bedding and things they chew up) and also poo in the tank topper area.

Exercise balls should not be used for any rodent species.

Some gerbils are fine with plastic, others not at all. But them ingesting it isn't a valid worry as they have extra mouth physiology like other rodents which allows them to stop inedible chewings from being swallowed.

Note though, that all practically all commercial gerbil food currently available is species inappropriate. Supreme food used to be, but in 2014 they changed the recipe when they rebranded as "tiny friends" and now it's not. The inappropriateness is in the form of fat content; gerbils require under 5% fat, preferably nearer 4% (wild diet and what labs should aim for), but commercial pet food is up at 8% fat as per other omnivorous rodents. Basically because of profit margins/ cost of ingredients. The only commercial diet I would recommend is Nature's Touch Gerbil (sold in PAH).

I personally feed mine on a home made mix, and a few friends of mine
 
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acapae

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*I personally feed mine on a home made mix, and a few friends of mine follow my recipe too (not sure why only half that sentence published!).
 

Tiny

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I personally feed mine on a home made mix, and a few friends of mine...
Thank goodness that wasn't the entire quote; imagined you were using your friends as bait :yikes: :))
 

acapae

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Thank goodness that wasn't the entire quote; imagined you were using your friends as bait :yikes: :))
Mmmm tasty human flesh, a vital part of all good gerbil diets! Hehe
 

CreamCheese

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You were all very helpful! Thank you so much, I don't have a very large tank, and I've read that cages aren't the best option because they will chew the bars, but would it be okay to make them a cage out of these grids?

image.jpg
 

CreamCheese

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I've made a plan for getting a gerbil, can anyone verify that everything is suitable for a pet gerbil?
I'm going to get 2 fat tailed gerbils
I will make a 2 by 2 foot cage out of the grids above with a coroplast floor
I'm going to attach multiple floors to the sides for them to jump on
I'll place a few toilet paper rolls in the cage and some wooden chews
I'm using paper bedding
I'm still deciding what to feed them
I'm also getting them a metal weel
 

CreamCheese

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*I personally feed mine on a home made mix, and a few friends of mine follow my recipe too (not sure why only half that sentence published!).
What's your recipe? Is it fairly cheap, I have 3 other pets to feed and I only get payed $80 a month (I'm only 14) so I'm already paying a pretty penny.
 

Pawz

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I've made a plan for getting a gerbil, can anyone verify that everything is suitable for a pet gerbil?
I'm going to get 2 fat tailed gerbils
I will make a 2 by 2 foot cage out of the grids above with a coroplast floor
I'm going to attach multiple floors to the sides for them to jump on
I'll place a few toilet paper rolls in the cage and some wooden chews
I'm using paper bedding
I'm still deciding what to feed them
I'm also getting them a metal weel
I have never had gerbils so I can't speak from experience, but... are those grids a material mesh? It's hard to tell from the picture if it is wire or netting.
I was thinking that if it's netting they might chew thru it? Also maybe the coroplast would need to have quite high sides to avoid chewable edges? Again can't speak from experience but I was thinking if maybe Gerbils are chewers like other rodents.
 

CreamCheese

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I have never had gerbils so I can't speak from experience, but... are those grids a material mesh? It's hard to tell from the picture if it is wire or netting.
I was thinking that if it's netting they might chew thru it? Also maybe the coroplast would need to have quite high sides to avoid chewable edges? Again can't speak from experience but I was thinking if maybe Gerbils are chewers like other rodents.
The grids are made of wire so that won't be a problem, but I'lol defiantly have to think about the coroplast, thanks for bringing that to my attention
 

acapae

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What's your recipe? Is it fairly cheap, I have 3 other pets to feed and I only get payed $80 a month (I'm only 14) so I'm already paying a pretty penny.
Sorry, I missed this question as I've only just worked out to turn on alerts for if people quote me!
I don't know how much my exact recipe will help you if you're not in the UK, with regards to different products, but I'll explain the justification underneath to help you to see what you have available that's similar.

So my mix currently, pulled off my spreadsheet is:
700g country value rabbit
100g science selective rabbit 4+
500g science selective chinchilla
100g burgess chinchilla
640g natures touch degu
200g tetra pond fishsticks
Resulting in food which is 15.36% protein, 3.42% fat, and 15.97% fibre. I also pay attention to CaP ratios, but it's not a precise figure as not every food discloses.

What I aim for is mostly fibre-based (rather than grain-based) rabbit food. The country value isn't great for rabbits, but it is heavily fortified and highly palatable, meaning the gerbils really like it so I can be sure they're getting some base level vitamins and minerals. The SS rabbit is be better nutritionally, but they hate it :P

Then the rest of the stuff is chinchilla food. Sometimes I vary this with degu food, but due to degu sugar intollerances (which gerbils don't have) it's usually a little bit more expensive than chin food, so I only vary that for enrichment reasons rather than nutrition. Here I use a mixture of pellet-based food and that with a lot of forage (nature's touch) to increase enrichment. Gerbils are theoretically fine with a museli based food, but the best high fibre/ low fat diets for other species are nugget-based and also people often heavily overfeed muselis due to misjudging how much food is needed.

And then the main protein source I use is pond fishsticks. Now, this is the least natural food for them in terms of protein source, however in the UK it is the only real high protein low fat option out there. Cat food is high in protein but the fat % is just over half the protein %, and dog food the fat % is usually just under half - even using a tiny bit of the most suitable in the mix ended up with inappropriate end analysis.

The above ingredients are medium to high quality so buying them all at once is expensive. BUT gerbils eat such a tiny amount each day in total that longterm it balances out as incredibly cheap to feed them. Do remember though that same as other animals, if you switch from museli-based to fibre-based you will have to feed them amount relatively volumetrically, because fibrey stuff just takes up more physical room, and is less nutrient dense.

So my gerbils get that mix about 5x a week. And then the other 2 days a week they get more natural forage-based things. So really nice hay or dried grass, dried 'bunny herbs' plants, safe bits of tree (which they actually eat rather than just chewing) with or without leaves depending on safety and time of year, and mealworms. Sometimes I get free samples of horse forage too, which I bung in here. These are the more enriching days as the above nugget-based mix although nutritionally great is a bit boring to be the sole endless diet as they are naturally foragers and scavengers.




However if you don't have a tank, I would prioritise finding one. I don't know what sites you have there, but here Gumtree and Preloved are the best places to get tanks. Ex-fish tanks are fine, and you don't need any of the extra gubbins, only the tank, meaning that if you have transport you can often pick them up cheaply e.g. my 4ft one was only £20 plus the £5 I paid my friend for driving me to get it (as I don't drive). But if you can't get a suitable sized tank at all, I would say that gerbils aren't the pet for you right now, as it is an absolutely essential thing for basic levels of care.
 

acapae

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I've made a plan for getting a gerbil, can anyone verify that everything is suitable for a pet gerbil?
I'm going to get 2 fat tailed gerbils
Oh hang on. Duprasi (proper name for fat-tailed gerbils) are a completely different species to "pet gerbils". I know people with them, but I've never kept them myself. They are considered an exotic pet from every angle (vs other more commonly kept small rodents who are further along the way to domesticity), which means that you are basically keeping a wild animal in a pet environment. Now different people have different ethical views about this, but the main things to bear in mind if you are considering it are:

Environment: they'll need much more space than a more tamed species. Priority needs to be given to them exhibiting natural behaviours rather than the time they get interacting with you (they are fairly docile, but this means you have to be even more aware as to stress levels). My friend who does more exotic species than me suggests a 2ft tank as a minimum, but a minimum is exactly that, rather than an ideal.

Food: nutrition is thought to be about the same as Meriones unguiculatus ("pet gerbils"), but there is significantly less research as to specifics out there. A lot of nutrition advice for exotics suggests "fine on basic hamster mix" which is just.... very general? What they will survive on vs the natural diet they will thrive on. So take advice like that with a pinch of salt.

Vet bills: exotic vets are more expensive and less common. You may have to travel further to find one, which is a consideration both in terms of how much the whole trip will cost, and accessibility in an emergency. Locate and register with an exotics vet before you ever need one, so you're not having to research in a panic.
 

Cavy Kung-Fu

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Gerbils definitely need to be in pairs :) Also I'm not sure about the cage idea as they are very good chewers. I would definitely advise a glass tank, the bigger the better like piggies. It minimises the chance they'll get bored and argue. Not a lot of info I know but hope it helps :)
 

Cavy Kung-Fu

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Oh also the plastic balls they'll probably chew out of lol, not ideal for gerbils XD
 
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