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Old 11-19-2019, 12:03 PM   #1
sushi_78
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Default My gerbils

I thought I'd show off some pictures of my gerbils, and see how many other gerbil enthusiasts are on Hamster Central?

Gerbils are very, very different to hamsters and it's quite interesting owning them both at the same time and observing the differences. The most obvious difference is in temperament and nature. While hamsters have a certain charm and sweetness about them which gerbils don't really have, gerbils often (but not always) have a gregarious and happy-go-lucky nature which is also quite pleasant.

These are my four most recent gerbils (all female):








The top two were a pair who lived happily together in the medium Marrakesh terrarium until they died earlier this year. The bottom two are also a pair who are currently in the Marrakesh but will soon be moving to a Kerry to make room for my Robo (and also because they can't be trusted with so much wood and plastic!).

Does anyone else here have gerbils?

Last edited by sushi_78; 11-19-2019 at 01:59 PM. Reason: Resized images
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Old 11-19-2019, 07:00 PM   #2
mikatelyn
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Default Re: My gerbils

Hi Sushi,
Thanks for posting. They are very cute! I don't have any gerbils, but I think my hamster has been sort of a gateway drug for other pets, and I've been researching and trying to decide between more hamsters versus guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, chinchillas, gerbils or other rodents as an addition to my one current hamster.
Please do tell us more about these little fellas! For example, how was taming your gerbils as opposed to the hamsters?
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Old 11-19-2019, 08:36 PM   #3
Kennedyyy
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Default Re: My gerbils

Hello! I too would also love to hear more about gerbils! I am currently trying to decide between a hamster or a pair of gerbils, but I just cannot seem to make a decision. One of my big things is that I really love these animals, but I am a little scared to hold them, so my question would be do you think hamsters and gerbils NEED to be held or are they pretty good just running around their cute homes?
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Old 11-20-2019, 05:47 AM   #4
Flossypet
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Default Re: My gerbils

I know someone who has a pair of gerbils - they are complete opposites to hamsters in every way.

Hamsters: nocturnal, need a lot of toys, don't chew much, need a lot to do, don't burrow much, solitary, and are drowsy just before they go to sleep and when they wake up.

Gerbils: awake in the day, don't need that many toys, chew a lot, are happy with a few things to do, burrow a lot, need company, and can switch in an instant from sleeping to awake and vice versa.

This is just what I have seen myself - I could be mistaken.

One more major difference is that gerbils are much harder to pick up and hold.
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Old 11-20-2019, 08:00 AM   #5
sushi_78
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Default Re: My gerbils

Hi, Flossypet. I think your observations are pretty much correct. Gerbils do always need to be doing something, but I have noticed that they have three main sources of enrichment: other gerbils, burrowing, and destroying things. As long as they have these three things, everything else is a bonus. Even wheels are optional and many gerbils won't use them. Houses and hides are nice, but a young healthy gerbil won't sleep in one when they have the option to dig their own burrow. With my hamster it seems to be the opposite. She doesn't see the point in digging a burrow when she has houses to sleep in. Chewing things just for fun seems to be unheard of for her as well.

They are awake in the day … but also at night. Evening and early night is their most active time, when they are most likely to be making noise. Mine finally go to bed at about 3am, and get up when I do. After that they alternate between four hours of activity and four hours of sleep. You can wake them up and they will be alert and ready to run around in a minute. They don't mind be woken up if it's for something nice, like treats or playtime. Their sleeping patterns are quite flexible and can easily be adjusted if you want the gerbils awake at a certain time.

Mikatelyn, I think I would say both hamsters and gerbils can be tamed to the point of handleability, but with gerbils it requires a bit less effort and time. If you're willing to put the time and effort in though, I would go for whichever species appeals to you more. If you have successfully tamed dwarf hamsters, gerbils will be a breeze. My most recent gerbils were born in a rescue where they were handled from birth, so they were already mostly tame when I got them. The pet shop gerbils were a bit more difficult. I do think the fact that you can (and should) keep more than one gerbil helps a lot with taming, because a gerbil that has company is going to be generally less stressed and more secure than a lone one.

Kennedyy, My impression of my first and only hamster so far is that although she is gradually getting used to me, I could leave her completely alone other than feeding and watering and cleaning and she would do fine.

With gerbils it can vary quite a bit, but some do appear to get enrichment from human company. The grey agouti gerbil (named Lily) peering out of the house in the images above is one gerbil who actually demands to be held sometimes (usually at 2am when I'm trying to sleep). She just loves attention. This is probably because I put a lot of effort into taming her when she was a pup. If you want "watch only" gerbils, you can just limit how much you interact with them and they will be just fine.

I wouldn't use temperament as a tiebreaker between hamsters and gerbils though because it does vary so much. The gerbil in the second picture (Honey) didn't appreciate human company at all, completely different from Lily. I would focus more on which pet fits best into your life right now. I think gerbils are generally cheaper than hamsters because you don't need so many toys. You can also get away from giving them a bit less space than you might a hamster. 70x40cm is a size that works well in my experience, but I would consider something smaller for some gerbils and bigger for others. They also appear to suffer from fewer health problems. On the other hand, if you have a pair of gerbils and one dies you do have to think about potentially introducing another, which you don't have to do with hamsters. If split-caging is something you don't feel confident attempting, hamsters might be better for you. I hope this helps. If you have any other gerbil questions, I'd be happy to answer them.
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Old 11-21-2019, 11:35 AM   #6
Flossypet
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Default Re: My gerbils

Quote:
Originally Posted by sushi_78 View Post
My impression of my first and only hamster so far is that although she is gradually getting used to me, I could leave her completely alone other than feeding and watering and cleaning and she would do fine.
This is not always true with hamsters, as a lot of them can need or 'ask' to be picked up just like gerbils.

If I don't pick up my hamster one night, she gets really upset and confused, biting the bars and looking at me in a way which says clearly ''Why on earth are you not picking me up?''. She never bites the bars otherwise.

This could be because she's got it into her little furry brain that every time I pick her up when I put her back her food bowl will have food in, but I don't think so.
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Old 11-21-2019, 02:52 PM   #7
sushi_78
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Default Re: My gerbils

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flossypet View Post
This is not always true with hamsters, as a lot of them can need or 'ask' to be picked up just like gerbils.

If I don't pick up my hamster one night, she gets really upset and confused, biting the bars and looking at me in a way which says clearly ''Why on earth are you not picking me up?''. She never bites the bars otherwise.

This could be because she's got it into her little furry brain that every time I pick her up when I put her back her food bowl will have food in, but I don't think so.
That's interesting to know. I always assumed that hamsters being more solitary animals wouldn't be interested in human interaction, but it's good to know that some are.
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