Gerbils are some of the best pets that you could have. They are extremely interesting and fun pets that are popular across the world.
If you are looking for some fun facts about Gerbils to help with a homework project or you are merely just interested, then here are 50 fun facts about Gerbils to get you started.
For the most part we are talking about the Mongolian Gerbil which is the species of Gerbil that most people have as a pet.
50 Fun Facts About Gerbils for Kids
1. Gerbils are mammals and are from the same family of animals as rats, mice, guinea pigs and hamsters, which is the rodent family.
2. If you have a gerbil as a pet, it is more often than not a species known as the Mongolian Gerbil. Its proper scientific name is Meriones unguiculatus.
3. The other species of gerbil which is relatively new as a pet is the fat-tailed gerbil or duprasi gerbil. Other common English names for it are the fat-tailed jird, fat-tailed rat, or the beer mat gerbil. However, these are much less common as pets than the Mongolian gerbil.
4. The scientific name for a Mongolian Gerbil ‘Meriones unguiculatus’ is roughly translated as ‘the clawed warrior’.
5. The story of how the gerbil got its name the ‘clawed warrior’ is that the Emperor Genghis Kahn, who was leader of the Mongol Empire from 1206 -1227 was sleeping one night and an assassin broke into his quarters with the intention of killing him. A gerbil apparently bit the foot of the assassin and caused the assassin to let out a shout which then woke the Emperor. The Emperor was able to prevent assassin from killing him and after realizing what the gerbil had done, adopted the gerbil as his own giving it the nickname the ‘clawed warrior’.
6. Gerbils were first reported in the United States in 1954 when a Dr. Victor Schwentker imported some gerbils into the United States to use in research.
7. They were first imported into the United Kingdom in 1964 when they became popular as pets.
8. There are believed to be over 100 different species of gerbil in the wild.
9. They are found in the wild in desert areas across Asia, Africa and India.
10. They are territorial creatures. They use a scent gland which is located on their chest, to mark their territory. They do this by rubbing up against an object with their chest.
11. In the wild, gerbils survive between two to three years.
12. In captivity, they can live between four and six years if you look after them well.
13. They are very curious creatures and will always investigate things.
14. They are not aggressive by nature and will only attack others when they are provoked.
15. They are nocturnal creatures which means they are active at night and tend to sleep during the day. However, they tend to sleep having long naps of a few hours at a time before waking, being active and falling back to sleep again.
16. Gerbils are social creatures which means they don’t like being alone.
17. They are best kept in pairs of the same sex, which means two males together or two females together.
18. They prefer living with gerbils they have grown up with. They don’t react well to gerbils they have never met before who have a different scent, and will need to be introduced together over a period of time.
19. In the wild they live in family groups which are made up of a male and a female and then generations of their children.
20. Mongolian Gerbils measure between six and twelve inches including their tail.
21. The tail makes up over half the length of a Mongolian Gerbil.
22. Gerbils weigh around 70 grams.
23. Their body is covered with fur, this includes their tail.
24. Their color depends on what kind of species of gerbil they are. These colors are golden agouti, black, Burmese, light red fox and schimmel.
25. The variety of colors of the Mongolian gerbil is due to selective breeding
26. In the wild they dig underground burrows so they can shelter, store their food and keep their children. These burrows can go down as far as 6 feet deep underground.
27. They have long back legs called hind legs, which help them to jump as they have a good spring. They also use them to thump the ground to talk to each other.
28. Gerbils have teeth that are always growing. Because of this, they have to find ways to cut them back and the main way they do this is to chew things. They have to do this otherwise it is very painful for the gerbil as their teeth grow too long.
29. They have kidneys inside their bodies that help them retain as much water as possible. This is because they come from hot places where there isn’t much water at all so they have to keep as much water with them as possible.
30. Because their bodies try and keep as much water in them as possible, they rarely urinate.
31. They are very clean animals and do not have much odor.
32. A female will produce young until she is around two years old, a male will be able to remain fertile throughout his whole life.
33. Gerbils don’t just mate in a particular season, they mate throughout the year.
34. When female gerbils are pregnant, their pregnancy only lasts between 21 and 26 days. This is called their gestation period.
35. When their babies are born, they are born blind, deaf and without hair.
36. They can give birth to between three and seven babies at a time.
37. Both mum and dad look after thes children and teach them what to do to find food and look after themselves. This is not always the case with animals as it is often just the mum who looks after the children.
38. They are omnivores which means they eat fruits, nuts, seeds and some insects. An omnivore is a plant or an animal that eats food that is both of plant and animal origin.
39. Most animals drink water, however gerbils get water from the food that they eat not by what they drink. They do this by extracting moisture from the from the water that their food contains.
40. They love to eat fruit such as oranges, apples, melon or pair, or vegetables such as carrots, cucumber or pumpkin for example, or even seeds such as sunflower seeds. However they shouldn’t be fed all the time to them as they are fattening for gerbils.
41. Their main food should be gerbil food pellets which can be purchased from a pet store. They contain the main nutrients that gerbils need for their diet.
42. If you see a gerbil eating their own poop, this is quite normal as what they are doing is absorbing the last nutrient in left in the first digestion. It gives them vitamin B and other nutrients that their bodies need to stay healthy.
43. Their hearing is very sensitive as they use it to sense when a predator is approaching.
44. One of the ways Gerbils communicate is to thump the ground with their hind feet whenever they get frightened, excited or they are stressed. They also do it to let others in their company know of any danger from approaching predators.
45. Fat-tailed gerbils are not as easy to find as Mongolian gerbils, which are by far the most popular type of gerbil. They are found in the Sahara desert in Northern Africa.
46. There are some states in the United States where it is illegal to have a gerbil as a pet. In California it is illegal to even purchase, keep or import a gerbil as a pet. This is because of the threat that they pose to indigenous ecosystems and existing agricultural operations.
47. When keeping a gerbil as a pet, it is best kept in a tank as opposed to a cage as the metal bars are not good for a gerbil to gnaw on.
48. When they live as pets, Gerbils need a good amount of space to live in. A rough guide to how much space they need is one 10 gallon tank to 1 or 2 gerbils.
49. When they are kept as pets, they need plenty of material to dig into. They love to create their own burrows and tunnels as this is what they are naturally inclined to do.
50. Gerbils are very energetic animals. When they are awake they are always moving around and so when they are living in a confined space, they will need an exercise wheel to help them run.