Gerbils and Jerds
Gerbils and their larger cousins jerds are very similar and everything we say about gerbils on this page applies to both. They can be kept together if brought up together but strangers may be attacked. They are best kept in pairs as gangs may form and individuals may be bullied. Gerbils seldom bite if handled regularly but care must be taken when holding the tail as it may slough off.
Gerbils may be kept in the same sort of cage as other small rodents but a dry fish tank makes an ideal living place. Because gerbils are desert dwelling creatures they are very efficient at recycling water and produce very little urine.
To create the ideal environment for your gerbils; take an equal quantity of peat and compost so that it comes approximately half way up the tank and add a couple of handfuls of chopped straw and a handful of activated charcoal. This creates a bio-active system that needs cleaning much less frequently.
The gerbils will tunnel and burrow through this and you will delight in watching their underground activity through the glass walls. Discarded cardboard tubes from toilet rolls and paper towels make ideal play things which gerbils will chew up to add to the straw for their bedding. A wheel and other play things will enhance your gerbils environment. A home-made wire mesh lid firmly pushed down over the top of the tank makes it secure and is better than a standard fish tank lid as it allows moisture to evaporate and is chew-proof.
Gerbils are best fed on a commercially available food, and fresh water should always be provided. Like other small rodents, gerbils and jerds have constantly growing teeth and a wood block will help supplement the cardboard rolls for gnawing to keep their teeth worn to the correct length.
Like most small pets, if they are healthy to start with, gerbils and jerds are very unlikely to suffer from any infectious diseases.
Gerbils Quick Stats: lifespan 24 - 36 months; weaning at 15 days; sexual maturity 10-12 weeks; gestation period 24 - 26 days; average litter size 5. NB Gerbils can produce a litter every 30 - 40 days so it is important to separate males and females.
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