Are Gerbils Friendlier Than Hamsters? Exploring the Social Side of Rodent Pets

Gerbils and hamsters are both small, furry, and cute, but they have some notable differences in their physical characteristics. Gerbils are typically larger than hamsters, with a slender body and a long tail. Their fur is soft and silky, and they come in various colors, including gray, brown, and black. Hamsters, on the other hand, have a rounder body with a shorter tail, and their fur is short and dense. They also come in different colors, including white, brown, and gray.

Behavioral Differences

Apart from their physical characteristics, gerbils and hamsters also have some behavioral differences. Gerbils are more active and energetic than hamsters. They are natural diggers and love to burrow, so they need a deep substrate in their cage to satisfy this behavior. Hamsters, on the other hand, are nocturnal and tend to be more active at night. They are not as active as gerbils during the day and prefer to sleep during the day.

Understanding Gerbil Behavior

Gerbil Social Structure

Gerbils are social animals and thrive in pairs or groups. They have a hierarchical social structure, and each gerbil has its own rank within the group. Dominant gerbils will assert their authority over the others, but this behavior is usually not aggressive and is just a way of maintaining order within the group.

Gerbil Communication

Gerbils communicate with each other through a variety of sounds, including chirps, squeaks, and thumps. They also use body language to convey their emotions, such as grooming each other as a sign of affection.

Gerbil Playfulness

Gerbils are playful animals and love to explore and interact with their environment. They enjoy playing with toys and running on wheels, which is a great way to keep them physically and mentally stimulated.

Understanding Hamster Behavior

Hamster Social Structure

Hamsters are solitary animals and prefer to live alone. They can become aggressive towards other hamsters, especially if they are of the same gender. In the wild, they live in burrows and only come together to mate.

Hamster Communication

Hamsters communicate with each other through scent marking and body language. They use scent glands on their body to mark their territory and communicate their presence to other hamsters.

Hamster Playfulness

Hamsters are also playful animals and enjoy running on wheels and playing with toys. However, they are not as active during the day as gerbils and tend to be more active at night.

The Importance of Socialization for Rodent Pets

Why Socialization Matters

Socialization is crucial for rodent pets, especially for gerbils. Gerbils are social animals and need to interact with other gerbils to thrive. If they are kept alone, they can become stressed and depressed, which can lead to health problems. Hamsters, on the other hand, do not require socialization as much as gerbils, but they still benefit from interacting with their owners to prevent boredom and loneliness.

How to Socialize Your Gerbil or Hamster

To socialize your gerbil or hamster, you need to start by providing them with a suitable habitat. Gerbils need a large cage with plenty of space to run and play, and a suitable substrate for digging and burrowing. Hamsters need a smaller cage with a wheel, toys, and hiding places.

Once you have provided them with a suitable habitat, you can start socializing them by spending time with them every day. Talk to them, offer them treats, and play with them. If you have more than one gerbil, make sure to introduce them gradually to avoid aggression.

Gerbil and Hamster Care and Maintenance

Food and Water

Both gerbils and hamsters require a balanced diet consisting of commercial rodent food supplemented with fresh vegetables and fruits. They also need access to clean water at all times.

Habitat Requirements

As mentioned earlier, gerbils need a large cage with a deep substrate for digging and burrowing. They also need plenty of toys and hiding places to keep them stimulated. Hamsters, on the other hand, need a smaller cage with a wheel, toys, and hiding places.

Grooming and Hygiene

Gerbils and hamsters are clean animals and groom themselves regularly. However, they still need some assistance from their owners. You should clean their cage regularly and provide them with fresh bedding. You should also keep an eye on their teeth, as they can overgrow and cause health problems.


So, are gerbils friendlier than hamsters? The answer is not that simple. While gerbils are more social and playful, hamsters can also be friendly and enjoy interacting with their owners. It ultimately depends on the individual animal’s personality and behavior.

Regardless of which rodent pet you choose, socialization and proper care are crucial for their health and happiness. By understanding their behavior and providing them with a suitable habitat, you can ensure that your gerbil or hamster is a happy and friendly pet.

ThePetFaq Team