Gerbils are small rodents. As closely related as mice and gerbils are, they are clearly different to look at. Gerbils have bodies that are shorter and stockier. They are also a different color – while mice tend to be a dark shade of gray, gerbils are colored a much lighter gray or brown. Unlike mice, gerbils have furry tails, too. Their fur cover helps them protect against sunburn. Gerbils can make excellent pets for young children. They are friendly, docile and interesting. If you’re planning on getting a small pet for the family that everyone can have fun with, gerbils are perfect. Here’s how gerbils score as family pets.
1. Your family will be safe with gerbils as pets
Unlike other pets, gerbils groom themselves obsessively. They tend to be clean and to present little risk of infection. Gerbils are very predictable – far more so than dogs. While millions of children end up in the emergency room after being bitten by the family dog each year, gerbils are completely safe. No matter how they are handled or how frightened they may get, they don’t bite or scratch. This does make them vulnerable. Since gerbils are very small, they tend to be delicate. Their tails, especially, can be fragile. Children must not pick a gerbil up by the tail.
2. Gerbils are one of the easiest kinds of pet to care for
Gerbils are extremely low maintenance. They rarely soil their living quarters and remain clean in general. While they do need regular feedings, they tend to need very little water. In general, children in charge of gerbils need to do very little work cleaning up after them.
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3. Few pets tend to be as friendly and as available as gerbils
Gerbils are sociable and tend to be affectionate pets. What makes them even better as pets for children is that they are crepuscular – they don’t need to sleep for hours together. Instead, they only take small naps throughout the day and night. This means that children hoping to play with a gerbil in the family can happily play with them nearly any time they wish. Just make sure your children handle gerbils carefully.
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4. With gerbils, it’s always a group show
Gerbils should never be kept alone. They are social creatures and cannot do without a few of their kind in their enclosure. This can make gerbils extremely entertaining for children to watch. Gerbils tend to constantly engage in active play with one another. The name gerbil derives from a Latin word that means clawed warrior. As territorial creatures, gerbils tend to violently oppose new individuals in their area. They can get into fights to the death when their areas are invaded by new gerbils. Gerbils only tolerate other gerbils when they grow up with them. When you set out to adopt or buy gerbils, then you need to make sure that you get all the individuals that you plan to get at one time. They need to be ones that have grown up together and that are known to get get along. You can’t hope to build up your collection of gerbils over time.
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5. You have about 90 species choose from
When you choose to keep gerbils, you don’t need to limit yourself to the same species as every other gerbil owner you know. You get to choose from multiple sub-species. With 90 different sub-species and 40 different colors to choose from, it’s always easy to get individuals that reflects your individual preferences. When considering getting gerbils, start with at least two and try to get different species.
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6. Gerbils are easy to feed
Gerbils are easy to feed and your kids can feed them too. Nowadays most pet stores sell commercial gerbil seed mixes. Tossing a handful of gerbil mix into a gerbil dish at mealtime is all that’s needed. Gerbils love simple little treats, too. Consider giving them small quantities of salad vegetables. These treats are always appreciated.
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7. Gerbils are always active and always a pleasure to watch
Gerbils are frantic movers and diggers. Out in the wild, they constantly dig around, create new tunnels and run through them. A gerbil tank filled with soil, then, can give gerbils endless hours of fun. Children delight in watching them. My gerbils can spend hours upon hours chewing, digging, tunneling and running, and they can boost my mood in no time.
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8. Gerbils are low-budget pets
Gerbils are cheaper to own than cats or dogs. You will rarely need to spend more than $100 setting them up at first. Gerbil feed is cheap at $5 a bag, too. This is a fraction of what it costs to feed conventional pets. So, if you are on a tight budget, don’t worry, gerbils will be perfect pets for your family.
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9. Gerbils don’t live very long – getting a few isn’t a huge commitment
It can be a difficult decision to get a long-lived pet when you have young children in the family. You won’t know what kind of pets your children really want until they grow to be five or six. Gerbils can make great starter pets. By the time a set of gerbils passes away, the children should be old enough to choose the kind of pet they really want.
Are you going to own gerbils? Do you know any other benefits of owning these wonderful pets? Share your thoughts in the comments section, please.