Gerbils are small rodents that belong to the subfamily Gerbillinae. There are over 110 species of gerbils, but the most common species found as pets are the Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus) and the fat-tailed gerbil (Pachyuromys duprasi).
Gerbils are small, social animals that are known for their friendly and curious nature. They are typically about 4 inches long and weigh between 2-4 ounces. They have a lifespan of around 3-5 years when properly cared for.
Gerbils are active animals and require plenty of exercise. They are also known for their digging behavior and require a deep substrate in their enclosure to satisfy this need.
Exotic Pet Definition
An exotic pet is a non-traditional pet that is not commonly kept as a household pet. The definition of an exotic pet can vary depending on the state or country, but generally, it refers to animals that are not native to the area or require special care.
Based on this definition, gerbils are not considered exotic pets in most areas. They are widely available at pet stores and are commonly kept as household pets.
Pros and Cons of Owning a Gerbil
There are many benefits to owning a gerbil. Here are some of the pros:
– Gerbils are social animals and enjoy the company of other gerbils. They should always be kept in pairs or groups.
– They are relatively low maintenance and do not require a lot of space.
– Gerbils are affordable pets, with initial setup costs being relatively low.
– They are active and entertaining to watch, especially when they are playing with toys or digging.
While gerbils make great pets, there are some cons to consider:
– Gerbils have a short lifespan compared to other household pets.
– They require a specific diet and can be prone to health issues if not fed properly.
– Gerbils are not recommended for households with cats or dogs, as they may view the gerbil as prey.
– They can be difficult to handle at first, as they are very fast and agile.
Gerbil Care and Maintenance
Gerbils require a secure enclosure that is large enough for them to play and exercise. A minimum enclosure size of 10 gallons is recommended for a pair of gerbils, but larger is always better.
The enclosure should have a deep substrate, such as aspen shavings or paper-based bedding, to allow for digging behavior. Gerbils also require hiding spots and toys to play with.
Gerbils require a specific diet that is high in fiber and low in fat. A high-quality gerbil food should be the main part of their diet, supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Gerbils require fresh water at all times, which should be provided in a water bottle.
Gerbils are active animals and require plenty of exercise. Providing them with toys, such as wheels and tunnels, can help keep them entertained and active. It is important to provide a safe and secure area for them to play outside of their enclosure.
Gerbils require minimal grooming, but their teeth can overgrow if not provided with something to chew on. Providing them with chew toys or mineral blocks can help keep their teeth healthy.
Health Concerns to Watch Out for
Common Health Issues
Gerbils can be prone to health issues such as dental problems, respiratory infections, and diarrhea. It is important to monitor their health and seek veterinary care if any issues arise.
Providing a high-quality diet, clean living environment, and plenty of exercise can help prevent many health issues in gerbils. Regular veterinary check-ups are also important to catch any issues early.
Where to Find a Gerbil
Breeder vs. Pet Store
Gerbils can be found at both breeders and pet stores. While pet stores may be more convenient, it is important to research the store and ensure that they are providing healthy and well-cared-for animals.
Purchasing from a reputable breeder can ensure that the gerbil is healthy and from a good genetic line.
Adopting a gerbil from a shelter or rescue organization can provide a loving home for an animal in need. It is important to research the organization and ensure that they are reputable and providing proper care for their animals.
In conclusion, gerbils are not considered exotic pets in most areas and make great pets for families with children. They are friendly, curious, and active animals that require minimal grooming and low maintenance. By providing them with proper care, a healthy diet, and plenty of exercise, you can ensure that your gerbil lives a happy and healthy life.
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