Pet gerbils usually live in pairs or groups. This is probably one of the more important details you need to know when owning them. They need each other around so that they can feel safe and secure when they sleep and play.
So, gerbils being the social animals that they are begs the question, can gerbils die of loneliness? The short answer is no they cannot die directly from loneliness, but they can die from certain conditions caused by loneliness.
Just having a pair or group of gerbils is especially important for their health reasons because they tend to groom each other to keep clean.
Knowing this, we can now see why they get very lonely and may show signs of depression when their closest friend dies.
They get so used to having that constant companion in their life that they don’t know how to handle life without them.
I looked up some signs of a gerbil that is getting lonely and even methods that you can try to accommodate them.
I also found some good practices when keeping gerbils so they don’t get too lonely without their companion so that you can take a quick look.
Signs of a Lonely Gerbil
There are many ways gerbils can show that they’re starting to get lonely, whether that be through their actions or a behavioral change.
I found some of the more common ways they show it, so hopefully, it can help you with noticing some of the signs your gerbil is getting lonely.
- They may start to become quieter. You may no longer hear any squeaks of happiness coming from their cage after they lose their friend.
- They may seem disinterested in activities that they used to enjoy. Things, like running on the wheel and playing with their toys throughout the day, won’t be as interesting to them anymore.
- You may see them become lazier. They may choose to lay around more instead of being active like they used to. Like sleeping when it’s normally their playtime.
- They may start to lose their appetite. With less drive to exercise and play they may not feel the need to eat as much.
- They stay inside of their homes more than they come out. You can tell this is happening when you don’t see them around the normal hours that they’re usually roaming around.
All of these over time could lead to secondary conditions like stress and illness.
These conditions may cause your gerbil to become depressed and with no drive, they may not focus on hygiene as much anymore. This can lead to sickness which unfortunately may lead to death.
How to Help a Lonely Gerbil
There are basically two options if your gerbil shows signs of loneliness. The first is to try and help them through the grief and provide them with plenty of care and attention.
Make a fuss of them, spend more time with them and help them get over the loss.
Try to play with them as much as you can to brighten their day. Introduce new items that will pique their curiosity, this will help stimulate them and keep them from losing interest.
It is also important to monitor them carefully in case their state deteriorates. However, this might not be enough to give them the care they need.
The second option is to get another gerbil. When done correctly, this can be better for your remaining gerbil.
If you do decide to get another one, you have to consider things like their compatibility and also pairing them correctly.
Helping by Adding a Companion
There are risks in getting another gerbil. There is no guarantee that your current pet will like the newcomer and get along with them, but gerbils are social animals so it’s best that you at least try.
But, a new friend might help them to get over the loss and fill the void left behind. This is where you’ll have to consider compatibility, you have to introduce them carefully and see if they can even live together.
You can’t put a new gerbil in the cage, walk away and hope for the best. You’ll have to use the split cage method.
The split cage method is a great way for animals to sniff each other, talk to each other and interact without much risk. They can’t attack each other and cause harm with a wire mesh in the way.
Once they accept each other and show signs of companionship you can put them both in the same enclosure.
One big sign that they’re ready to be in the same enclosure is when they start to build little nests on both sides of the mesh to be closer to each other.
The Best Pairing for Your Lonely Gerbil
Knowing how to pair gerbils correctly is very important if you’re thinking about getting another one as a replacement.
Pairing them incorrectly can result in fighting between the two gerbils, which is the main thing you want to avoid.
If you’re unsure about if your gerbils are actually getting along or fighting you can view my post where I cover the differences in detail, so there won’t be any confusion.
There are basically three ways you can pair your lone gerbil with another companion, and it depends on if they’re male or female.
Here are the main ways you can do that, and what you can expect:
Pairing male gerbils together. This is the easiest pairing of gerbils. Why is it easier to have two male gerbils?
- Many gerbil experts, owners, and former owners agree that two male gerbils can find companionship easier.
- The reason being male gerbils tend to be more docile and friendly with each other than females.
Pairing female gerbils together. This one can be a little harder to do. Female gerbils tend to fight with each other more often.
- They are a little more aggressive with each other. This is especially the case the older they get.
- So if you decide you want to pair them, you would have to pay special attention to their development together to watch for any fighting.
Pairing male and female gerbils together. It can be done but it’s just not a great idea unless you want to have a lot of gerbil babies.
- This isn’t recommended unless you have the knowledge, resources, and space to accommodate a clan of gerbils comfortably.
Keeping Them in Pairs to Curb Loneliness
Like I said gerbils are social animals, as are many of the small rodents that we might try and bring into our lives.
They like the company of other gerbils so they can interact with each other, play with each other and find comfort from one another. That is why is it best not to have only one gerbil.
You might argue that you can replicate this yourself with playtime, feeding, and grooming.
That might be true, but you can never replace the company of another gerbil because they need same-species contact.
Plus, what happens when the gerbil is alone while you’re at school, work or out having a social life with your friends? Sometimes you can’t predict when your gerbil wants to play and be social.
That’s why it’s important to pair them up, so they have that constant, familiar companion.
All that being said, gerbils can still live alone if this is the only solution. You would need to spend more time with them so that they don’t get too lonely.
Make sure they stay busy with different kinds of fun activities like toys and stuff to climb and chew on.
Another thing that will also help a gerbil that lives alone is putting their cage in a busy part of your house. This way they will receive all kinds of stimulation from people walking by and talking to and around them.
Perhaps you don’t want to replace your deceased pet gerbil because you no longer wish to keep them after the remaining one goes. This is understandable.
We sometimes underestimate the care and attention that goes into looking after these creatures. You may also decide to try looking after another species, and that’s fine.
If this is the case, do your best to provide the absolute best quality of life for your last remaining gerbil.
Give him, or her, all the attention and treats you can to prevent the loneliness and depression from setting in.
Gerbils should live in pairs to give them the care and companionship that they crave. If one dies, lavish attention on the survivor to stop them from getting lonely and sick.
If possible, slowly introduce a new companion to help the lonely gerbil get over the loss. Always do your best to give them the quality of life they deserve.
Can you get away with initially buying only one gerbil without causing too much harm? Technically you can buy one gerbil, but you have to be ready to give them more attention than normal. Especially if you adopt them away from their siblings that they are used to being around.
Will gerbils always get lonely when kept by themselves? They usually will but not always because pet gerbils, like most pets, have a wide range of personalities. While it is rare, some of them can live their life just fine while being alone.