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Adopting Gerbils

Libby Hanna and Cathy Bickel

Questions Frequently Asked by Adopters


Is there a difference between males and females?

There is not much difference between males and females. Males move a little slower than females when they're adults and will take a new partner more easily. Females stay active and quick into old age.


Are pups easier to tame?

Yes and no. If adults haven't been handled much, they might not be as tame as pups. But pups are delicate and quick, so older gerbils can be better for new owners or young children. And like humans, pups' personalities can change, so a tame pup won't stay tame unless you handle it regularly. A tame adult you choose from a shelter, breeder or pet store will stay tame.


If I adopt an pair where one is older than the other, won't I have problems when one passes away?

Gerbils are social animals and need friends, so no matter which two gerbils you adopt, you will have to face re-partnering eventually. Older males are especially easy to introduce. Females over the age of two years are less likely to have pups, so sometimes an older female is placed with a male. There is, however, always the chance of a litter of pups when this is done. Starting with older gerbils often makes sense if your family includes young children, since a larger, calmer adult will be easier for the children to learn to handle.


I have a pair now. Can I add a third gerbil?

No. Any bonded group thinks of itself as a clan and will reject, and probably kill, any outsider. The only possible introductions are between two single gerbils, and a single adult and one or more young pups.

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