Gerbil Behaviour

Understanding your gerbils’ behaviour can help you build a happy relationship with your pets.

Understanding gerbils behaviours

Unlike hamsters, who perk up when the lights go down, gerbils are active throughout the day.  Just like you! And when we say active, they’re very, very fast.  So when you’re handling your pets, always make sure it’s in a safe contained area.

Gerbils have a natural digging instinct – they just love to dig! Because of this, the best housing is a gerbilarium. This is a wire cage on top of a tank filled with natural wood shavings which takes account of your gerbil’s natural instinct for burrowing.  It’s very digging-friendly!

Training your gerbil

Your pet gerbil can learn its name, and it can learn that when you approach the cage, you probably will take it out to play! Your pet gerbil can learn some neat tricks too.

Training do's & dont's

Training should always be positive reinforcement-type training. You must always reward the gerbil when it performs a correct response, and never punish it. For the best results, train in short five to ten minute sessions a couple of times a day. This is because the gerbil will lose interest quickly and you’ll lose patience. Your gerbil likely learns best when you train it when it’s already awake and active. Don’t get discouraged or angry if your gerbil doesn’t want to be trained. Give up that session and come back to it later with a fresh start.

Litter box training

Training your gerbil to use a litter box makes cleaning its cage easier. If your gerbil uses the box, then you don’t have to change the bedding as frequently. Put a small bowl partially filled with chinchilla dust in your gerbil’s cage. Your gerbil may play in the dust, and then use it for urinating and defecating. Remove the bowl to clean it daily, and then return it to your gerbil’s cage with the dust.

Can gerbils be aggressive?

Gerbils can fight between themselves. This is rare, but when it happens it can be fatal. It’s normally caused by one gerbil asserting dominance over another. Watch out for any signs of aggression and if needed, separate your gerbils.

Quick tip

It's better to keep two or three of the same sex littermates together. Introducing gerbils who are older than 10 weeks means that they are more than likely to fight.
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Hamster, Gerbil & Mouse

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Did you know?

Gerbils often sleep on top of each other whilst unconsciously grooming each other.

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