A gerbil is a rodent halfway between a rat and a mouse in size. They're usually 2-4 oz, and have a slightly different facial shape than a mouse or rat. Their long tails are covered with fur and end in a tuft. Their eyes are deep black or ruby red, and they come in dozens of different colors, from regular agouti (wild rabbit brown with white belly), to black, to shades of orange, gold, cream, to color points like Siamese and Burmese! Gerbils make fun and entertaining pets for both young and old.
Gerbils are fun to watch. Their antics and family interactions can entertain you for hours. They are also incredibly friendly pets. They can be taught to climb up your shoulder and can sit there, or on your head!
Gerbils require a minimum of care. Their homes take up little space, they are low-maintenance, create little odor, and they do not need frequent vet visits. They are very friendly, social, and rarely bite, as is the case with some rodents that will remain anonymous.
Before you get your gerbils, you have to decide just what you're looking for. How many do you want? What colors do you prefer? Do you prefer a certain gender? Do you want to breed? Gerbils are highly social and do not like being alone at all, not like the solitary Syrian hamster. If you're getting gerbils you must get at least two. Lone gerbils have been proven to live shorter, less healthy lives, and are often overweight and not too happy. They also tend to be harder to tame and less friendly overall.
Even if you are home all day, and playing with them constantly, this does not make up for the fact that they must sleep alone, eat alone, and have no one to groom them. So a companion is essential. Both females and males will get along happily with a companion of the same sex, especially if they are siblings or kept together from the age of six to eight weeks old. Females tend to be less stable in groups larger than two, while males tend to be more tolerant of each other in groups of three, or more. However, it is recommended that the average gerbil owner stick to a pair of gerbils, as the chance of fighting increases with larger groups. Never mix gerbils from two different clans (tanks)!