How long do gerbils live? Gerbils are one of the pet rodents with the shortest lifespans. Some species can only live for half a decade or less.
For this reason, giving importance to proper gerbil care is highly important as it can help improve their longevity drastically.
Wild Gerbil vs. Pet Gerbil Lifespan
How long do gerbils live in the wild? Gerbils in the wild do not live long. Generally, they can live for 2–3 years, but many of them are unable to reach 1 year of age. Research shows that most wild gerbils have an average life expectancy of 3–4 months.
As prey animals, gerbils are often hunted down by several natural predators, such as Pallas’s cats, eagles, and snakes.
Their small size hinders them from effectively fighting back against these animals. Hence, they rely on their speed to outrun and hide from their hunters.
Predators are not the only threat to wild gerbils. Shortage of food and water and the prevalence of health problems, slim down their chances of living longer.
How long do gerbils live as a pet? When kept as a pet, gerbils live longer, with an average lifespan of 2–4 years. Some can even reach five years.
Providing pet gerbils with good living conditions significantly increases their longevity. In captivity, pet gerbils live in an enclosed environment away from predators.
If given proper nutrition, regular socialisation, and a clean enclosure, they can live long, happy, and healthy lives.
Male Gerbil vs. Female Gerbil Lifespan
According to a study made in 1969, male gerbils were able to live for 110 weeks (2.1 years). The oldest among them managed to reach 208 weeks old (3.9 years).
Now you might wonder: “How long do female gerbils live?” The same research showed that female gerbils could live up to 139 weeks (2.6 years). The oldest female was 209 weeks of age (3.9 years.)
By looking at the data, you can come up with a conclusion that males and females can live for 2–3 years.
However, nowadays, the longevity of both genders has improved as gerbil owners learn more ways to properly care for them. Thus, some of them can live a little more than 3 years.
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Lifespans of Various Gerbil Species
Each species of gerbil has a different life expectancy. Let us look into them to determine which of them tend to live the longest as pets:
How long do Mongolian gerbils live?
This gerbil species is the most common type to be kept as pets. Wild Mongolian gerbils can live up to 2 years. However, in captivity, they can live between 2–5 years.
How long do fat-tailed gerbils live?
The fat-tailed gerbil is one of the rarer species. They have a longer lifespan compared to Mongolian gerbils, which are 5–7 years. Fat-tailed gerbils live shorter in the wild, but no clear data about their life expectancy is available.
How long do Libyan gerbils live?
The Libyan gerbil is another rare type of species. There is not much information about how long they can live in the wild. What we do know is that they have a life expectancy of up to 5 years as pets.
Oldest Gerbil in the World
We often come across the question: “Is 2 old for a gerbil?” Yes, gerbils reach their senior years when they turn 2 years old.
Their bodies start to weaken and show signs of aging. It means less activity and more sleep to conserve their waning energy. Fortunately, with proper care, geriatric gerbils can live longer than 2 years.
You might be curious to know: “What is the longest-living gerbil in the world?” A Mongolian gerbil named Sahara was crowned the longest-living gerbil by the Guinness World Records.
She was born in May 1973 in Lathrup Village, Michigan, USA, under the care of a man named Aaron Milston. In October 1981, she passed away at the age of 8 years and 4 months old.
Realistically, many gerbils do not get to enjoy living as long as Sahara did. However, striving to help your pet live longer is important for more joyful and memorable memories with it.
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3 Ways to Increase Your Pet Gerbil’s Lifespan
Here are some helpful tips to aid your beloved gerbil in achieving a long life:
1. Do not keep your gerbil by its lonesome.
Can gerbils live alone? In the wild, gerbils live in clans and socialise with each other daily. With this in mind, we discourage keeping your pet alone in its cage. Gerbils can live alone in captivity, but do not expect them to live long.
Do gerbils get lonely? Gerbils do get lonely, and it can affect them mentally and physically. Whilst loneliness will not kill them; it may cause stress and depression.
These problems can lead to abnormal changes in your gerbil’s sleep, eating, and exercise habits. Consequently, they may cause health issues to arise.
Here are some things to keep in mind when housing gerbils together:
- Same-sex pairs work the best. Gerbils rely on spawning many offspring in short periods to ensure their survival in the wild. Your pets’ enclosure could get easily overrun by pups if you keep a male and a female together.
- Keep the population within the cage low, as gerbils are highly territorial. Only house 2–3 gerbils.This prevents fights from breaking out, which can potentially lead to declining. This is a phenomenon where a gerbil is ostracised by his group.
- Males are less aggressive and more easygoing than females. Females tend to be dominant and bully others to establish themselves higher on the hierarchy.Their aggressiveness also stems from preventing other females from mating with males.
- When looking for a trio of gerbils, opt for siblings from the same litter. They are more likely to get on well with each other and form stronger bonds.
- Never add a new gerbil to the enclosure if you own an established gerbil pair. Otherwise, they will see the newbie as a threat rather than a friend.If one of the duo likes the third gerbil, but the other one does not, declining may happen.
- Check on your gerbils daily. Declining can occur without you knowing. So examine each of your pets for injuries on their body.The presence of blood in the cage is also an indicator that a fight broke out. Transfer the ostracised gerbil to a separate cage to prevent causing more friction within the group.
2. Handle your pet gerbil with care.
Do gerbils like to be held? Gerbils are generally sociable animals, but many of them are averse to being held. However, you can help make handling an enjoyable experience for your pet. Follow these pointers to achieve a good outcome:
- Keep things sanitary. Always wash your hands before touching your gerbil since they may harbour disease-causing bacteria. You want to avoid making your pet sick after spending quality time with it.
- Let your gerbil build affinity with your hands. The best way to do this is through hand feeding. Offer its meals by placing the food on the palm of your hand.This helps him have more trust in you. You may need to repeat this step for about a week or more.
- Choose an enclosed room where your pet has no furniture to hide under. This is very important, particularly when handling your gerbil for the first time. This averts the risk of your pet escaping outside if it jumps out of your hand.
- Hold your gerbil with palms facing up to keep him from hopping out. Be careful not to put too much force on your grip, as your pet’s body can easily sustain injuries.
- Sit down whilst handling your gerbil. Avoid holding it high from the ground. It can be very disastrous if your pet accidentally falls off your hands.
- Once you are done holding your pet, lower your hands until it touches the cage’s base. Lay your palm flat so your pet can walk off without needing to jump out.
3. Feed your gerbil an appropriate diet.
What do gerbils eat? In the wild, gerbils’ diets are typically composed of fruits, vegetables, seeds, and insects. When keeping gerbils as pets, most of their nutrition comes from pellets supplemented with fruits and veggies.
Here are some tips to remember when making your gerbil’s meals:
- Feed your pet pellets specifically made for gerbils. They are formulated to provide all the essential nutrients it needs. Serve a tablespoon of pellets daily.
- Avoid loose mixtures of seeds combined with pellets or dried fruits and veggies. Gerbils will only consume their favourite parts, and this can lead to a nutritional imbalance.
- Give your gerbil lab blocks. These are cube-shaped fibrous pellets that serve as chew toys as well as food. Their tough texture greatly helps in wearing out your pet’s continuously growing teeth.
- Insects such as mealworms, locusts, and waxworms are a good source of protein for gerbils. In general, they contain around 15–22% protein. Provide your pet with 1–2 insects per day.
- Vegetables only serve as a treat to gerbils because of their high water content. Give your pet up to 1 teaspoon per week. Avoid veggies that are dangerous to its health, such as rhubarb, raw potato, and onions.
- Many gerbils love fruits, but these types of food should only comprise a small part of their diet. Much like veggies, fruits function as treats.
- So, offer a maximum of 1 teaspoon per week. Grapes, avocados, and citrus fruits are off-limits to your pet.
- Gerbils should have an infinite supply of water. Ideally, they must consume around 3–5 milllilitres of water daily. For sanitary purposes, place their water in a sipper bottle to prevent contamination.
- Clean out stale food in your gerbil’s enclosure every day to avoid moulds. Check every nook and cranny of the cage thoroughly. Gerbils have a habit of hoarding large amounts of their food.