How to care for a gerbil – The Mongolian desert ridge (Meriones unguiculatus) is a small rodent belonging to the desert roots of Mongolia and northeastern China. The gerbil is a digging, social animal that is active both during day and night. Their holes consist of complicated tunnel systems with many entrances, booths, and food departments
The gerbil’s natural coat color is agouti/game color, with mainly brown fur with darkly pigmented skin, lighter brown to white on the underside (chest and abdomen), and darker along the back. Some examples of other color variations available today are black, white and cinnamon.
Also, combinations of black or brown occur with a white band around the chest. The gerbil has a scent gland that sits at the bottom of the abdomen and is seen as a hairless brown spot.
The gerbil is a curious, friendly and almost odorless rodent, making it a popular pet. It has adapted well to captivity, and appears to be relatively free of common infectious diseases. Desert rats usually neither bite nor fight, they are easy to keep clean, and relatively easy to handle. Gerbils are not suitable for toddlers but for children older than 10-12 years and for adults, they can be very good pets. A gerbil is usually 2-4 years old and can weigh 50-130 grams, usually the male is slightly larger than the female.
In the wild, gerbils eat leaves, seeds, roots and other plant parts. Exactly how their diet looks is not known yet and it can be difficult to compose a good feed state in captivity. Nowadays, good pellets contain a protein content of 20-22% which can be given in combination with seed mixtures sold to rodents.
One should, however, look out for giving too much seed mix as they contain a large proportion of sunflower seeds that are preferably picked out and eaten first by the gerbil. Sunflower seeds in excessive amounts give too low levels of calcium and too high fat and cholesterol levels.
To vary the diet and cover up the nutritional needs, one should supplement the dry feed with vegetables, fruit and some whole grain bread, pasta, rice and boiled potatoes. Remember to give everything in moderate amounts, too much vegetables can cause diarrhea. New feed materials should also be introduced gradually.
Keep in mind that gerbils like to dig down their food bowl in the stream material. However, they find the food again but one has to remember to clean out fresh food so that it does not lie or mold or rot.
A fresh and properly fed gerbil does not need any vitamin or mineral supplements.
Because gerbils live in dry environments in the wild, they are very good at saving on liquid and can manage without drinking water for a long time. Nevertheless, they must always have access to fresh water. Water bottles are often preferred because gerbils quickly fill a water bowl with feedstock and other debris. The water must be changed daily and the bottle must be cleaned thoroughly even in the spout.
Gerbil’s natural friendliness and curiosity means that it is quite easy to handle. Most gerbils reach a hand that is inserted into the cage and can then easily be lifted up in a cupped hand, or taken at the tail base.
Be sure to support the rest of the body with the other hand and to really hold it all the way to the tail base, as the skin down the tail is easily pulled off.
Gerbils like to climb on their shoulders and easily become tame when handling it gently and let it run freely up and down the arm. If the gerbil also gets a sunflower seed or a peanut when it is with its owner, it will eventually volunteer.
Cages For Gerbils
There are several different types of cages that are suitable for desert rats. Many of these are already equipped with “furniture”, such as exercise wheels, tunnels, and booths. These furnitures, as well as a sufficiently deep layer of straw to dig in, is necessary for the animal to thrive.
The corners of the cage should be rounded to reduce chewing. The gerbil can easily chew through wood, thin plastic, and soft metal. The cage should, therefore, be made of stainless steel, durable plastic or glass.
Keep in mind that glass or plastic containers greatly reduce ventilation and can lead to problems with temperature and humidity. These materials may be suitable for cages if at least one side of the cage is open to allow air circulation. Remember also that the cage should be escaped safely!
If it is appropriate or not to have exercise wheels for gerbils, is a re-debated issue. There is a concern that the gerbil can get stuck and make itself bad in the wheel or that it can develop back injuries if the wheel is too small. If you decide to decorate the cage with wheels, this should have a solid skirting surface, so that the tail or feet are not squeezed into grids and be properly large. However, the exercise wheel should never replace any other form of activity and exercise.
The gerbil must be able to dig in a preferably 2 dm thick bottom material, it must have climbing possibilities, tunnels to run in, branches to gnaw on and of course a large surface to move on.
The gerbil thrives in cages with a solid floor with a deep layer of power material. The material must be clean, non-toxic, absorbent, relatively dust-free, and easy to obtain. Ripped paper, paper pellets and planing chips are preferred.
Make sure that the shavings are free from mold and other contaminants. It should also not dust. Make sure the material is at least 1 dm deep in the cage so that the gerbil can dig naturally. In the box, cotton and torn paper are excellent materials. Avoid strung material that can get tangled in claws and feet.
According to the Animal Protection Act, the minimum permissible floor area for gerbils is 0.12 square meters, of which the shortest side must be at least 2.5 dm (0.25 m). If you have measured the shortest side, the long side must be at least 4.8 dm (0.48 m). The height of the cage must be at least 2 dm (0.2 m). In group holding, each animal must have at least 0.06 square meter.
This means that a cage with the above dimensions can accommodate only 2 gerbils. Note that this is the minimum size, it cannot be too big! A breeding pair requires much more space. Suitable temperature for gerbils is 15-25 degrees, with a humidity of 30-50%. Because the gerbil is equally active day and night, it is best with a day cycle with 12 hours of light.
Gerbils are social animals that usually thrive well in groups, especially groups of females. They prune each other, wrestle and sleep together. However, they can sometimes become aggressive towards newcomers and they can fight if they are kept in small spaces or if they are put together in adulthood. Breeding pairs are held together and introduced to each other before the age of 10 weeks. The male often helps to raise the kids.
Clean the cage
Cages and equipment must be cleaned thoroughly at least once a week. An exception to this is when there are newborn babies. One should then wait until the kids are at least 2 weeks old.
Other factors that may require increased cleaning are the number of gerbils in the cage, the type of current material used, and the cage’s design and size. The cage is cleaned with hot water and a non-toxic cleaning agent, after which it is thoroughly rinsed. Water bottles and food bowls should be cleaned and disinfected daily.
Gerbils should be paired when they are sexually mature, at 7-8 weeks of age. They form monogamous couples who usually hold together throughout their lives. The couple usually gets their first litter at about 5 months of age. If the couple splits, it may be difficult to use the animal in another breeding pair.
The male participates in the care of the chicks. If the male is moved away from the cage for a few weeks after birth, this can lead to fights when he is later returned.
The gestation period is usually 24-26 days. If, on the other hand, the female is mated directly after giving birth, and thus has suckling pups during the next pregnancy, this gestation may be up to 42 days. The litter size is on average 4-6 kids.
The kids are born blind and naked. The ears open at 3-7 days, the coat grows out at 7-10 days, the incisors penetrate at 12-14 days, and the eyes open at 14-20 days of age. The kids stop dia about at 4 weeks of age but should be allowed to stay with their parents for at least 6 weeks of age.
The female’s cycling cycle lasts 4-6 days, with spontaneous ovulation. Monogamous couples can give a new litter every 30-40 days, up to a total of 6-7 litters. The female can be used in breeding for about 18 months of age. The male is fertile at least 24 months of age.
Young gerbils are rarely abandoned, and usually not damaged or eaten up by the parents. Factors that can lead to the abandonment of the chicks are small litters, excessive handling of the chicks, lack of material, lack of an area where the nest can be hidden.
If the mother abandons the estate, the chicks can be raised by foster parents if they have their own litter at about the same age. Hand feeding of newborn rodents is very difficult.
How to care for a gerbil and More
Of the most popular rodent types among households as small domestic pets, gerbils are the winners. They like the company of humans, they can live in a pack, eat very little and require simple care that makes them very dear pets. If you want to have a gerbil and still do not feel convinced, this article will help you to know a little more, so that you learn everything you need to know to take care of them and protect them properly. Continue your reading in a Como and find out how to care for a gerbil.
What you did not know about gerbils?
The gerbils are docile and intelligent animals who can live in community because they can share territory with other gerbils without any disharmony. They are also excellent family members, in herd breeding, father and mother join efforts to care for and care for their children.
They like the company of humans so they let themselves be touched, they have a reputation for being affectionate and some people even train them to do tricks on their hands.
In general, people acquire two gerbils of the same sex and from the same litter. If you want to gather two gerbils from different parents, they should be about the same age. Changing the location inside the cage will be essential for two gerbils that are seen for the first time, with this trick you try to recognize the smells of the other and get used to them. You must change it every two hours during the first 3 days.
Tips on How to care for a gerbil
- The first thing you should do is look for a large place for gerbils. If you have two small rodents, you should consider that their size is medium, that is, larger than a mouse but smaller than a rat, about 80 g in weight. A fish tank glass place or a wooden box with several compartments will be enough for your two little friends. Try to find a cage that has high and low compartments so they can move inside, up or down. It must also contain a small roundhouse where they can enter and be in the shade, a kind of small bedroom where they will also carry food and shelter.
- A fundamental element that you must have the home of the gerbil is a drinking fountain with water. There are some that sell in the shops of animals very comfortable to drink, leaving a small space so they can take the water they want without making a disaster. The drinkers should be washed every two or three days and change the water so that the pets are healthy.
- The diet is quite basic but includes important nutrients for the animal, such as oats, barley, wheat, cereals without additives, vegetables in small natural pieces such as carrots, lettuce, cucumber, peppers and accompanied by other sporadic foods or supplied as a reward such as Sunflower seeds and dehydrated fruit.
- Leaving a piece of hard bread at all times is something that they enjoy a lot, it will help you to gnaw it and work your little teeth.
- One of the easiest toys we have at home and we can give him to play with are the cardboard tubes that remain from the rolls of paper. In addition to walking the tube, they like to bite it to gnaw.
- The wheels that usually sell for mice can be very dangerous, especially if they come with bars or grids. Both your tail and your legs can be trapped, so it is important to check that you do not have grilles or bars where they can be injured.
- It is important not to take the gerbil by the tail since it is very fragile and can easily break. To take a gerbil by hand, it is better to offer the palm so that they can ride themselves.
- Gerbils can not bathe. Forget about using water to clean them, they have their own maintenance rites so they do not need our bathrooms or animal products.
- The cage or place where gerbils live should carry a substrate so that it can absorb the urine of small animals. The cage should be cleaned with a disinfectant and plenty of water every week, in this way you will avoid infections in the animals, as well as bad odors.