8 Reasons Gerbils Make Great Pets

Everyone loves gerbils, but are they worth the hype? Find out 8 reasons these playful rodents make fantastic pets!

Apr 11, 2024By Dallin Darger
reasons gerbils make great pets

Gerbils are an incredibly common choice for household pet owners. In fact, many lifelong animal lovers can recall with fondness their childhood pet gerbil. Now, exactly why are these little burrowers so beloved and what keeps people coming back to them?

Let’s take a look at 8 of the most compelling reasons to opt for a pet gerbil!

1. Gerbils are Affordable to Maintain

standing gerbil
Wikimedia Commons

One of the more practical motivations for choosing a gerbil companion is affordability. Owing to their small size and low maintenance requirements, they don’t cost much at a pet store – assuming you don’t choose to adopt a pet, which you should if possible!

Likewise, they don’t have high-maintenance dietary or health restrictions, so you won’t see a huge hit to your budget. For grooming, gerbils can get by just fine with ordinary care products. Their diet also tends toward the simple side, with standard pellets supplemented by fruits and veggies.

2. No Strong Odors

gray gerbil
Image by Gerhard Janson from Pixabay

Unlike some other small pets (ferrets, especially, have a distinct odor), gerbils don’t usually give off a strong smell. They are actually one of the few rodents that avoid the problem of a chronic, pungent odor. Naturally, this can be a blessing if you’re living in cramped quarters!

Of course, regularly cleaning the cage is still necessary. Even the cleanest pets can’t escape the issues that come with a dirty, unmaintained habitat.

3. Gerbils Love to Play

5 gerbils playing
Wikimedia Commons

A delightful characteristic of gerbils is their immense excitability and playfulness. You may find that even the more lethargic representatives of their kind still live for exploring, burrowing, climbing, and running. The time can fly by just quietly watching gerbils going about their daily routine.

The one caveat here is that gerbils typically need friends. Whenever possible, it’s best to pair them with a buddy, or their owners might see them fall into a slump and not show much activity. On the bright side, this means their spontaneity and love for play will shine all the brighter when they’re around other gerbils!

4. Gerbils are Less Prone to Health Problems

gerbil on shoulder
Wikimedia Commons

It’s no secret that dealing with a pet’s health problems can be enormously financially and emotionally draining. Fortunately, gerbils are very forgiving in this regard! They generally develop few health complications over the course of their lives. So, as long as adequate and routine care is combined with regular visits to the vet, your gerbil will likely lead a healthy life.

As with other pets, rodents and gerbils thrive on a healthy and nutritious diet. To stave off illness, try to incorporate fresh greens, seeds, and fruits into your gerbil’s feeding schedule.

5. Minimal Attention Requirements

gerbil playing toys
Image by Etouale from Pixabay

Don’t get me wrong: Gerbils always appreciate human contact and attention, and it’s best to give them as much of it as you can! But, when you throw some gerbil buddies into the mix, these little balls of energy can be remarkably self-sufficient. If you have a busy work schedule, you probably won’t need to worry much about your animal friend desperately missing you while you’re gone.

Of course, whenever you have the opportunity, they’ll still be happy to spend some playtime with you!

6. Sleep Cycle

3 gerbils sleeping
Image by Dieter Martin from Pixabay

Another stand-out quality of pet gerbils is their sleep pattern. While you’ll encounter other species that sleep on a nocturnal cycle, gerbils are a bit more complicated. In most cases, they are awake during intermittent periods of both daytime and nighttime.

Practically, this cycle means their owners have much more of an opportunity to enjoy the sight of their pet gerbil playing with their companions or exercising. If you’re looking for a pet that will give you frequent opportunities to bond (or even just observe their play), gerbils’ sleep cycles make them an excellent choice.

7. Gerbils are Not Very Noisy

gerbil in cage
Ivan Sitnikov on PxHere

Noise levels can pose a major point of concern for pet owners, especially if neighbors are added to the mix. However, there’s no need to worry about this problem with gerbils. Though they occasionally emit a soft squeak, gerbils rarely (if ever) cause a loud ruckus.

Their quiet nature is a refreshing contrast to some other members of the rodent order. Guinea pigs, for example, are known for a huge selection of noises they like to broadcast to their owners, from shrieking to rumbling. By comparison, gerbils might as well be silent!

8. Gerbils Are Friendly and Affectionate

gerbil eating from hand
Image by sonjafurter1 from Pixabay

By far the most appealing trait of gerbils is their ability and willingness to show love and affection to their owners. In contrast to say, the average cat, these are highly social creatures. That sociability is reflected in their behavior toward humans! Not only do they almost never bite, but they are also highly regarded for their love of petting and human contact.

To grow your bond with your gerbil and help them come out of their shell, there is a trick you can try. Gerbils generally respond well to shorter cuddle sessions as a result of their high energy levels. So, try to keep time spent holding them short, at a couple minutes max. You might find that they ease their way into longer contact the more familiar you get with each other.

Dallin Darger
By Dallin Darger

Dallin is a passionate, seasoned pet owner and enthusiast. He has, over the course of 27 years, owned and loved a litany of breeds, from Labrador retrievers and calico cats to angelfish and neon tetras. Much of his free time is spent researching and learning everything he can about unfamiliar and exciting types of wildlife.