A gerbil is a very mobile and curious animal that does not require much experience. Gerbils live in flocks (at least two people), so if you want to buy only one gerbil, you have to ask yourself – Do I want to spend my whole life alone?
These animals feel almost like us, so if you want to have only one gerbil, you should either get two or, for their sake, don’t buy any or get a hamster.
Well, coming back to specifics – gerbils are curious, and for the most part, they don’t mind the company of people. I say mostly because we shouldn’t forget that we are different and unique, and the same goes for jumpers. With a little patience taming should not cause us problems
Mongolian slider – basic information
The Mongolian slider is a rodent that is native to Asia. It can most often be found on the Mongolian steppes but also occurs in the southern regions of Russia and eastern China.
Like hamsters, the gerbil lives in burrows in which it builds elaborate passageways. In the burrow system, these animals:
- hide from bad weather;
- raise their offspring.
Unlike hamsters, these rodents do not belong to nocturnal animals. They are most active about the world and just after dark.
What does a gerbil look like?
In the late 19th century, gerbils were spotted on the Mongolian steppes by a French missionary, who later described them as yellow rats with overgrown tails. The tail is an essential part of the jumping mouse’s body and occupies at least half its length.
The average body length is roughly 10 centimetres, and the weight usually ranges from 100 to 150 grams. Of course, these characteristics can vary slightly depending on the pet’s age, sex, and genetic and individual issues.
Origin of Mongolian sliders
As the animal’s species name suggests, it is native to the Mongolian steppes and found in Northern China and Southern Russia. Mongolian sliders are therefore adapted to endure both the harsh cold of winter and the high temperatures of summer. They live underground in tunnel systems and store their food supply.
The gerbil was discovered in 1866 by French missionary Armand David, who brought the “yellow rats” to the Paris Museum of Natural History from his travels in Mongolia and China. A year later, the newly discovered species was given its Latin name: Meriones unguiculatus.
Around 1950, gerbils were first propagated in captivity. Soon after, in 1954, 20 pairs of Mongolian gerbils were brought to the United States by Dr. Victor Schwentker as laboratory animals. The scientists working with them found them fascinating creatures and took them home
From these 40 individuals, most of the Mongolian gerbils currently kept at home originate. In 1964 the gerbils were imported to Great Britain, from where they spread in breeding all over the world. The friendly nature of gerbils and their ease of maintenance meant that by about 1970, these animals had become one of the most popular species to be kept in homes.
Appearance and character
Mongolian gerbils usually weigh from 80 to 100 g, but the weight can vary greatly depending on sex and body shape. The body length is up to 10 cm, plus its hairy tail, which measures almost the same. Mongolian gerbils have a pretty dense coat, which is white-brown in colour in the wild while breeding gerbils can have different colour variations.
Mongolian gerbils are typically herding animals. In their natural environment, they live in colonies, groom each other’s fur and sleep together. For this reason, in captivity, they must be kept in a group, too! It is difficult to say definitively whether Mongolian Sliders tame quickly.
Some individuals actually make friends with humans quite fast, while others will not allow themselves to be tamed at all. Mongolian Sliders are generally active animals, both day and night. They love climbing and jumping. Regular sand baths are a must for care, which they also enjoy in the wild.
Breeding a gerbil
Repeat: Mongolian sliders are pack animals. They should be bred in pairs at a minimum, as they absolutely must have contact with their relatives. However, be careful when buying to take in individuals of the same sex. Otherwise, they will multiply at a rapid rate. The larger the group of gerbils, the more likely there will be quarrels between them, which often turn bloody.
For beginners, a pair of animals is therefore optimal. Under no circumstances should gerbils be kept together with other animal species in the same cage, as they exhibit specific social and communication behaviours that could be misunderstood.
Food for the Mongolian slider
Mongolian sliders in their natural environment feed primarily on grasses, seeds, and occasionally insects. However, the staple food for captive animals should be nutrient-rich mixed rodent food. In addition, they can be given fresh food with low sugar content.
To meet the protein requirements of gerbils, insect larvae should be offered from time to time. In addition, these rodents should always have access to fresh drinking water and hay.
Grooming for gerbils
As with all rodents, teeth and claws grow in gerbils constantly, and when they become too long, they can cause a lot of pain and health problems. Since these mice groom each other’s fur, additional grooming is generally unnecessary. However, providing your Mongolian gerbils with a sand bath is essential. It is also necessary to ensure that their teeth and claws are sufficiently abraded.
Sliders should take care of this themselves by biting and walking on rocks or upturned tiles. If this is not happening, it is essential to seek veterinary advice.
Cage for gerbils
For these rodents, aquariums or terrariums for rodents are best suited. They guarantee protection from drafts, to which gerbils are very sensitive. A grating will be optimal for covering the aquarium, which will prevent the rodents from escaping and provide adequate air circulation inside. Furthermore, the aquarium can be filled with a thick layer of bedding (preferably at least 20 cm high), allowing these animals to dig so importantly.
These tiny rodents should also be provided with enough different types of activities. In addition to basic furnishings such as waterers and bowls, these animals should have sleeping houses, tunnels, a sand bath, and toys. You can quickly and easily construct a play tunnel for your pets out of ordinary toilet paper rolls. An essential accessory for a gerbil is a built-in reel of the correct size.
How long does a gerbil live, and how can its life be extended?
Gerbils belong to the family of mice. They are small in size, and what is essential, they are very gentle. This is valuable information because it is often believed that gerbils are beautiful companions for small children.
Unfortunately, sometimes irresponsible playing with this animal can end tragically for it. You should take care of the proper place for the gerbil and watch out for its delicate structure. What else to watch out for with these small but comforting animals?
How long do Mongolian gerbils live?
How many years gerbils live depends on the conditions in which they are raised and the species from which they come. However, you should be aware that, like other rodents, they do not live very long.
The average representative of the species of Mongolian gerbils lives for about 3-5 years. It rarely happens that a gerbil, bred even in the best conditions, lives longer than 5-6 years. Unfortunately, the opposite situation is more common, when these animals don’t live even 3 years. What is the reason, and how to prevent it?
First of all, the most crucial factor is the food fed to the gerbil. The longevity of each animal depends mainly on its food. That’s why it’s worth investing in good quality food for gerbils, which is rich in components most suitable for the diet of these rodents.
What do they include? Fruits, plants, and vegetables are rich in nutrients. Banana, apple, carrots, and a mixture of high-quality grains are the best way for a healthy and long life of a gerbil weighing about 100 g. It’s a source of minerals and strengthens their skeletal system, which gerbils need, regardless of the length of their body (it varies from a few to several centimetres). Remember that the cage for gerbils should always have fresh and easily accessible water.
What do they include? Fruits, plants, and nutrient-rich vegetables. Banana, apple, carrots, and a mixture of high-quality grains are the best way to ensure a healthy and long life for a gerbil weighing around 100g. It’s a source of minerals and strengthens their skeletal system, which gerbils need, regardless of the length of their body (it varies from a few to several centimetres). Remember that the cage for gerbils should always have fresh and easily accessible water.
It is also essential to take care of the proper hygiene of the rodent. A dirty cage is the first place where bacteria and parasites live. They can easily infect the body of such a small animal and lead to a significant deterioration in health. Definitely do not ignore the various alarming symptoms of the disease. The most common of these include diarrhoea, local baldness, lack of appetite, or eye infection.