The Life Expectancy Of a Gerbil & How To Prolong It

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The life expectancy of a gerbil in the wild and at home

Sand mice are unpretentious and very clean pets, they are easy to tame. However, their lifespan is short. We will find out how long gerbils live in the wild and next to humans and how to make the conditions for keeping these rodents as comfortable as possible.

Life Expectancy Of Gerbals In Nature

The best climatic zones for gerbils are areas of deserts, semi-deserts, and steppes. That is why initially wild animals are sandy or brown in color. So small rodents are camouflaged from numerous enemies.

Today, more than 100 species of gerbils are known. Not all of them are domesticated. The largest gerbil is considered with a body length of more than 8 inches and a weight of almost 300 g. The other subspecies of these rodents weigh 15–220 g.

Table 1. Approximate sizes of gerbils

Torso (Inches)3-10
Tail (Inches)2.5-8

Interesting! The gerbil’s tail is covered with fur, and there is a small tassel at the end. This is how desert mice differ from other rodents.

Unfortunately, the term “longevity” does not apply to wild gerbils. According to statistics, most of these rodents die in 2-3 years after birth. Already in the second year of life, the body of a small mouse wears out noticeably. The duration of the physiological activity of wild animals ranges from 2.5 to 6-7 years. Very rarely, rodents live up to 8–8.5 years.

The Life Expectancy Of a Gerbil & How To Prolong It

The main reason for the rapid death of adorable gerbils is the busy lifestyle in the natural environment. According to experts, the level of stress in animals is constantly going through the roof. To protect themselves from predators, hardworking rodents are forced to build not only the main but also auxiliary holes for insurance. As soon as danger appears, the mice dive into the nearest burrow.

The main dwellings of these animals have many entrances and exits. Animals are constantly modernizing such burrows, building additional storerooms and safety passages. In the main dwelling of rodents, branches of saxaul, camel thorn are always in store. Despite the scarcity of vegetation in the desert zone, hardworking mice find an opportunity to stock up on fruits, shoots, and roots of shrubs, leaves, and flowers of plants.

When the rodent habitat runs out of food, friendly families of gerbils move to another territory with suitable food conditions. There, the animals are re-digging shelters. Sometimes they occupy the empty burrows of other rodents.

One of the most important factors that affect the lifespan of wild gerbils is the number of predators in the rodent territory. Owls, reptiles, snakes, sand foxes, sand cats love to feast on their tender meat.

Gerbils Lifespan At Home

The history of the domestication of gerbils has been going on for over half a century. The first animals of this species, which fell into the category of domestic animals, had the same (sand) color. Today you can find gerbils with white, black, red, gray fur. There are even spotted individuals.

Table 2. Features of the most popular gerbils

Species nameFeatures of the
BaluchistanThe smallest representative of gerbils. The length of the rodent does not exceed 2.3 inches, weight – 25 g. The baby has gray-yellow fur with a white belly. Such gerbils live in southern Asia.
PersianThe length of the animals reaches 7 inches, weight – 180 g. The fur on the back is darker (brown), brightens closer to the belly.
Chizman’s gerbilThe body of the rodent does not exceed 4.8 inches. The tail is longer than the body. The animal has an orange back and very beautiful eyes (large, round).
DwarfThe homeland of the rodent is North Africa. The animal has an ocher color and a short tail, a short body length (about 4 inches).

Important! Taking into account the social nature of desert rodents, it is better to acquire 2-3 animals at once. Then the pets will not get bored, and the owner of restless mice will have more free time.

The Life Expectancy Of a Gerbil & How To Prolong It

Choosing a gerbil for home keeping

Before paying and taking the rodent home, you need to ask the breeder or store seller about the features of the parents of the future pet. Better, of course, to take a look at this pair personally, but most often this opportunity is absent. When buying a gerbil, you should pay attention to the following qualities:

  1.  Inhibited behavior indicates a high probability of disease of the animal.
  2.  The gerbil’s fur should be clean and dense, the ears and nose should be dry, the eyes should be shiny.
  3.  It is better to get a rodent 3-6 months old. The older the gerbil, the more difficult it is to tame.

Important! Taking into account the instability of digestion of small rodents, it will not be superfluous to find out from the seller the composition of the gerbil’s diet. A sudden change in food can cause intestinal upset in the animal.

The pros and cons of domestic gerbils

The popularity of these animals as pets is growing every year. The maintenance of charming mice does not require large expenses, they can be safely entrusted even to a child and not be afraid that the matter will end with bites or aggression.

The advantages of desert mice in terms of home-keeping are:

  • lack of smell;
  • short period of adaptation to new conditions;
  • friendliness;
  • unpretentiousness in care and nutrition;
  • sociability;
  • conflict-free in relation to relatives.

It should be clearly understood that the gerbil’s residence in the family will not be long. You can increase the life span of the animal if you follow certain rules. At the same time, a serious approach to catering is extremely important. Spices, citrus fruits, onions, garlic, grapes, cabbage, as well as not too fresh products should be excluded from the rodent’s menu.

Experts point out several “disadvantages” that the future owner of the gerbil should learn about before buying a rodent. The disadvantages of these mice as pets are:

  • night activity;
  • the constant need to gnaw something, hence the need to select a dense inventory, toys for animals, first of all – a strong cage;
  • short life cycle – parting with a pet dying from old age is not easily tolerated.

Interesting! Don’t underestimate the importance of a rodent accessory like a sand pool. The animals need to take such a bath every day. So they take care of their fur, reduce stress levels.

Influencing factors are not life expectancy

This question has attracted the attention of pet rodent owners and zoologists for several decades. According to observations, gerbils live at home for 8.5 years – this is the maximum limit, the age of centenarians.

One of the main factors influencing the aging rate of a domestic mouse is the level of comfort of keeping a rodent. An equally important role is played by the diet of the animal, the satisfaction of its social needs. Animals that are kept alone do not live long.

The competence and care of the owner are of great importance for the health of domestic rodents. If gerbils are protected from possible injury and illness, their chances of a longer lifespan are increased.

How to Extend The Life Of a Gerbil

According to statistics, a gerbil rarely lives up to 4 years old at home. Most pets die after 3. It has been noticed that gerbils live longer than others, which are properly cared for, in some cases this limit reaches 8-9 years.

Competent care and comfortable keeping of small rodents at home suggest:

  • the correct equipment and location of the cage with animals – there should be no drafts, direct sunlight near the rodent’s dwelling;
  • a complete diet, close to natural nutrition in the native environment;
  • maintaining cleanliness in the home, providing animals with fresh water;
  • taking into account the lifestyle, behavioral features of animals;
  • regular communication with rodents ;
  • timely treatment in case of animal disease.

Important! Experts advise not to spoil the wards with sunflower seeds too much, they are very high in calories. Animals can quickly put on weight, and this predisposes to the appearance of diseases. Sweet, salty, bitter food is strictly forbidden for small rodents.

The Life Expectancy Of a Gerbil & How To Prolong It

When using products that are too heavy for the digestive system of animals, the esophagus of the animals is clogged. This often leads to the death of pets.

Table 3. Feeding your gerbils

Basic feed ingredients (give daily)Useful additives
(1/3 of the feed volume)
Treats
(given occasionally)
● grain mixture;
● fresh vegetables.
● neutral fruits;
● tree leaves (linden, apple);
● fresh herbs (woodlice, dandelions, clover, etc.);
● thin twigs;
● germinated seeds of cereals;
● eggs (hard boiled).
● nuts;
● sunflower seeds;
● raisins;
● dried apricots.

If you suspect that your gerbil is sick, you should take it to your veterinarian. Signs of an unhealthy rodent are a sharp decrease in physical activity, the appearance of lethargy, drowsiness, a deterioration in appetite, and refusal to eat.

Until the Vet has examined the pup, it is necessary to create the calmest conditions for it:

  • place in a separate cage;
  • provide silence and warmth, fill the drinking bowl with fresh water;
  • slightly shade the animal’s temporary shelter.

Important! Until a diagnosis is made, the diseased gerbil is kept separately from the rest of the pets.

Table 4. Most common diseases

Name, signs of the diseaseWhat to do
Conjunctivitis manifests itself as purulent discharge from the eyes, swollen eyelids.Remove dust inside and around the cage, wash, cover with paper towels. Rinse the eyes of the animal with chamomile infusion. Add some dried echinacea to the rodent’s grain mixture.
Allergy. Signs: itching, nasal bleeding.Wash the cage, treat with an antiseptic. Put a fresh bedding in the animal’s dwelling, remove cloth accessories and toys (wash everything). Remove from the diet foods that are believed to have provoked the reaction.
Fungal infection. The gerbil begins to fiddle with its tail, sometimes gnawing fur on it.The rodent is urgently shown to the doctor. Wash, disinfect, dry the cage. Throw away cloth toys, wash the rest thoroughly in a soap and soda solution (10%).

Regular hygiene of the gerbils’ home is an essential condition for their health. The animal cage is cleaned once every 14 days, disinfection is carried out monthly. Experienced breeders advise changing the bedding and sand in the sandtub once a week.

The main character traits of gerbils are friendliness and sociability. These animals are easy to tame. With a competent approach to the maintenance and care of small wards, the life expectancy of gerbils can be significantly increased. The main thing is to constantly monitor the condition and behavior of the animals, feed them correctly, and pay attention to them daily.

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About Amanda

Passionate about animals, Amanda draws her expertise from her training as an educator, pet behaviorist as well as her extensive experience with animal owners. A specialist in dog and cat behavior, Amanda continues to learn about our four-legged companions by studying veterinary reference books but also university research sites (UCD, Utrecht, Cambridge, Cornell, etc..)

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