Mongolian Gerbil Information

gerbil The Mongolian Gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus) is also called "desert rat" because it naturally lives in the desert. The Mongolian Gerbil is a friendly and social animal that lives in family groups. In the wild, the animals live in (semi)deserts of Mongolia.

Head-body length : 10 to 12 cm
Body weight : 70 - 130 grams
Life expectancy : 3 - 5 years

Gerbils are very active animals that love to dig and gnaw. It is therefore important that the enclosure is designed for digging and that all parts are gnaw-proof (aluminium/metal) or gnawable (wood). Plastic should not be used with these animals.

Tame and familiarize the Mongolian Gerbil

Always read carefully before you decide to get Mongolian Gerbils. They are very nice pets that are awake regularly, so they can also be seen during the day. This can be especially fun for children. Mongolian Gerbils are very friendly and curious, but they are not cuddly animals, they do not like to be held. After a while, they like to come to your hand to accept a treat and they actively make contact with their owner. Mongolian Gerbils are very fast, which makes them sometimes difficult to handle, especially for children. It is therefore important that there is always a parent present who can help and support when children handle the animals.

New residents should be approached calmly, especially during the first few months. The animals must first become familiar with their own enclosure and feel safe in it before they dare to approach people. Of course there are also daredevils who immediately approach you and are social, but most Gerbils are a bit shy at first. Give the animals time and try to make contact calmly by talking to them. Giving treats out of hand often works well to gain the animals' trust.

Tip! Mongolian Gerbils love pumpkin seeds!

Housing the Mongolian Gerbil

gerbils Mongolian Gerbils are social animals that should be kept together. In the wild they live in colonies with a strict hierarchy. The best combination consists of two animals of the same sex, for example two males or two females. At a young age it is quite easy to pair the animals, but at an older age it is a lot more difficult.

Mongolian Gerbils need a spacious enclosure of at least 100 x 50 cm for two animals. For each additional animal, 20% - 25% additional land area must be taken into account. A good enclosure gives the animals the opportunity to exhibit their natural behavior. In the wild, Gerbils build beautiful corridors and they would like to continue to do so in captivity. The Gerbil has an extensive corridor system. The castle in the wild is located at a depth of approximately 1 meter. The depth of the castle depends on the ambient temperature. As temperatures rise, the gerbil digs deeper underground to reach the cool earth, a kind of natural air conditioning.

Hamsterscaping is therefore very fun for Mongolian Gerbils.

At our home this translates into a spacious enclosure with many digging options and a sandbox. A terrarium is the best choice thanks to its closed nature. It is important that a terrarium allows good ventilation, so preferably it has two grilles (top and bottom). This is especially important in summer when temperatures rise above 25°C.

A sandbox is important for Gerbils; because they are desert dwellers, they quickly develop an oily coat.

Mongolian Gerbils cannot tolerate high temperatures in combination with high humidity. They are desert dwellers by nature, so they are not used to high humidity. An optimal humidity for these animals is on average around 55%. A temperature between 20 - 24°C is recommended and a humidity below 70%. You can use a hygrometer to measure these values.

House for Mongolian Gerbils

Mongolian Gerbils are lucky! because many houses made for Hamsters are also a good size for Gerbils. They are prey animals and do not like to walk around the enclosure openly, but if they occasionally come across a shelter where they can escape, they feel a lot safer. The best houses for Gerbils are multi-room houses. It is important that there is a part of a house that is shielded from daylight. Our advice is therefore to place at least one multi-room house in the enclosure and one more house per animal. Gerbils like to sleep together, so at least one house in the enclosure must be large enough to accommodate the entire group.

Exercise wheel for a Mongolian Gerbil

gerbil The Gerbil exercise wheel is an important part of the design of the gerbil enclosure. Gerbils are active animals that love to run. An exercise wheel gives the animals the opportunity to burn off their energy. It is important to pay attention to the exercise wheel, because not every exercise wheel is suitable for the Gerbil. The long tail must be taken into account, it should not get in between anything, so a completely closed running wheel is preferable, of course the running surface must be closed for all animals. Running wheels with fronts are also not suitable.

A running wheel for a Mongolian Gerbil must have a diameter of at least 28 cm and consist of a closed running surface.

It can be a challenge to place the exercise wheel in the enclosure due to the high ground cover. This is best done on a sturdy platform so that the animals do not dig it up. With regard to the material, a metal (aluminum, very hard plastic) has the best chance of survival. A wooden running wheel is usually gnawed quite quickly.

Ground cover for the Mongolian Gerbil

mongolian gerbil in house with sand It is important that the ground cover is diggable for Gerbils . This means that they can make corridors and holes in it, which preferably remain standing. This can be achieved by choosing ground cover that is already diggable in itself or mixing ground covers with each other so that they can be dug. Examples of excavable ground covers include Humus and Holenzand , but also Cotton & Cotton . A nice mix is, for example, the mix of Cotton & Hemp Fiber , Cotton & Wood Fiber or a mix of Wood Fiber , Hemp Fiber and Hay. Ground covers such as Back 2 Nature are not suitable because animals cannot dig in them. An ideal height of the ground bed for digging is around 30 to 40 cm.

Sand bath for Gerbils

Gerbils should always have a sand bath available. The Gerbil's coat quickly becomes greasy and must therefore be regularly cared for with a sand bath. Sand has a degreasing and therefore cooling effect. Because sand has a degreasing effect, it also has a drying effect. Animals with skin problems should therefore not be given a sand bath. If the sand dries out the skin too much, it can become itchy, causing the animals to bathe even more. It is therefore important to monitor the bathing behavior of the Gerbils and to remove the sandbox if there are signs of skin problems (red spots, bald spots, scabs, wounds).

Gerbils want to build a nest

Gerbils like to line their nest with soft nesting material . Making a nest is therefore part of a Gerbil's natural behavior. Therefore, always give the Gerbils 15-25 grams of nesting material.

Gerbil nesting material must be nice and soft, absorb moisture and have fragile fibers so that the animals cannot become entangled in it. Materials such as cotton, hemp, toilet paper and hay are ideal.

Mongolian Gerbils feeding

mongolian gerbil with willow bridge Gerbils are granivores (seed eaters). Gerbils' diet consists mainly of seeds and a little bit of vegetable food in the form of herbs , but also animal proteins. Gerbils catch small insects in the wild, so it is good if their diet also contains animal proteins.

The Gerbil's stomach is simple and the cecum and large intestine are not particularly well developed, which is consistent with animals that in nature eat mainly low-fiber foods, such as seeds.

Gerbils that are still growing effectively eat between 5 to 6 grams of dry food/day or 8 to 10 g of food/100 g of body weight. Gerbils drink approximately 4 to 10 ml of water/100 g bw/day. Total daily water intake (including water in food and metabolic water) is estimated at 8 to 13 percent of body weight.

An optimal protein percentage for growing Gerbils appears to be 16%. A magnesium or sodium deficiency can cause baldness and convulsions in Gerbils.

The percentage of crude fiber in the diet should be a maximum of 10% for optimal digestibility and absorption of the diet.

mongolian gerbil Because gerbils naturally occur in dry areas, they are very economical with water. Gerbils do not drink much and produce little urine. However, they must always have fresh and clean drinking water available.

Protein: Gerbils need animal protein. The food should contain a protein content of 14-15%. This can be supplemented with, for example, mealworms as a snack. Animal proteins are essential for good metabolism.

Fats: The gerbil food should not contain too much fat. A percentage of up to 4% fat in the diet is desirable. Gerbils easily become overweight. That is why it is important that there is no more than this 4% fat in the diet.

Fiber: The fiber content in the diet should not exceed 7%. Gerbils need easily digestible energy because they have a fast metabolism. This is mainly obtained from seeds. Too much fiber provides too little energy.

Calcium: The calcium:phosphorus ratio should be between 1.1:1 and 1.5-1.

Incisors: They continue to grow, so the food must provide the necessary tooth wear. Hardness, size and type of feed particles are important.

Stomach: The stomach consists of one chamber and is separated by a mucous membrane into a part without a gland and a part with a gland.

Small Appendix: Gerbils have a small appendix. As a result, they can only process raw fibers to a limited extent. Therefore, feed with a crude fiber content of less than 10% is optimal.

Animal proteins: Granivorous (seed-eating) animals need animal proteins. The valuable amino acids are important for cell renewal and various metabolic processes.

Gnawing material to wear down the teeth

Mongolian Gerbils have a very strong natural need to gnaw. This is because Gerbils are rodents and have continuously growing incisors. It is therefore necessary for Gerbils to have something to gnaw on to wear down their teeth. If Gerbils have too little opportunity to wear down their teeth, the teeth may become too long or grow crooked, with all the consequences that entails.

Rodents use rodents to wear down their teeth. Because rodents' teeth are always growing, they need to be gnawed regularly so that they do not grow too long and crooked.

Most Gerbils gnaw very actively on gnawing wood. However, it is a matter of taste and on the other hand a matter of need as to how much the animals gnaw on it. If a Gerbil has no need to gnaw because its teeth are kept at a good length through food, hay or other nibbles, it will gnaw less on wood. It is good to always provide natural gnawing wood so that the animals can always gnaw when they need to gnaw.

Dental problems in Gerbils

If you notice that your Gerbil is very enthusiastic about eating food, but then does not eat it, there may be something wrong with his teeth. Drooling can also indicate dental problems. If you suspect that there are dental problems, it is best to contact your veterinarian.

Reproduction of the Mongolian Gerbil

Mongolian Gerbils are social animals, both parents care for the young until they start to become independent from the 18th day onwards.

The female is willing (in heat) and ready to mate every 4 days. This takes about 12 hours. If successful mating has taken place on these days, the young are born after approximately 24 days.

The difference between males and females can be seen in the distance between the genital opening and the anus. This distance is greater for a male than for a female. In addition, males have a visible scent gland on their abdomen.

Sexual maturity : females after 4-6 weeks, males after 6-7 weeks
Breeding maturity : females after 8 - 10 weeks, males after 10-12 weeks
Number of litters : 3-4 per year
Litter size : 7 (max. 12) babies per litter
Gestation period : 15-18 days
Birth weight : 2-3 g, nest stayers
Weaning time : from week 4

Health of the Mongolian Gerbil

Mongolian Gerbils are generally healthy and strong animals. The most common health problems are dental problems, obesity and epilepsy that can be developed at a young age. An epileptic seizure is triggered by stress. The animals then lie very still and flat on the ground, their whiskers vibrate, ears flap, front legs extended and eyes move quickly.

We also recommend checking the animals' teeth regularly to detect any dental problems in a timely manner. To prevent digestive problems, a good, balanced and complete gerbil diet is essential.

It is not necessary to treat the animals preventively with anti-parasite. It is not necessary to provide extra vitamins with a complete gerbil diet.

Animals that drink and urinate too much may have kidney disease or diabetes.

Unfortunately, a disease contagious to humans also occurs in Gerbils, Tizzer's Disease. This is an infectious disease with Clostridium Piliforme. You recognize this because the animals have a rough coat, are lethargic and remain in one spot in the enclosure. The animals lose weight and eat poorly or not at all. It is important to recognize this in time, because only early treatment can save the animals. Young, old and weakened animals can die quite quickly. The disease is also contagious to other rodents, such as hamsters, rabbits, rats, etc.

It is wise to consult a vet if you have the following symptoms:

Dental problems

Drooling, moist nose and eyes, protruding teeth, not eating, losing weight, eating foreign materials that are softer than the food.


Bald spots, lots of scratches, scabs, wounds, bumps and lumps.


Wet and dirty ass, drinking a lot, falling over, lethargy, different shape and color of the feces

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