Why Do Gerbils Stare At Their Owners?

It can sometimes seem like gerbils are always staring at something when they’re not running around and playing.

If you’ve noticed that your gerbil also stares at you certain times throughout the day it can look a little confusing. So why do gerbils stare at their owners?

A gerbil will stare at you when they’re unsure if you’re a friend or a threat to them. Gerbils will also stare at you when they associate you with something like being fed or playing.

It’s normal behavior when they look at you for short periods of time though.

In some cases, they’ll even look at you for long periods of time like for an hour, and that can sometimes mean your gerbil thinks something is wrong.

Why Does My Gerbil Stare At Me?

When gerbils start to stare they can be staring at multiple things and for multiple reasons.

So when it comes to staring at their owners, the easy way to tell if they’re actually staring at you is if you see them move their eyes or head as you move around.

If they don’t shift their eyes or head towards you as you move then most likely they’re just checking their surroundings.

But what are the reasons why a gerbil will stare at their owner? The main reasons why a gerbil will stare at their owner are:

  • Your gerbil might be trying to figure out if you’re a friend or foe.
  • They may associate you with playtime or being fed.
  • Gerbils love to people-watch.
  • They’re just checking their surroundings.

Your Gerbil Is Trying To See If You’re A Friend Or Foe

A gerbil will stare at you when they are unsure if what they’re looking at is friendly or a threat.

This can happen when they’re not that used to you yet and even when you’re already well bonded with them as well.

Their eyesight isn’t the best so when they’re looking at you they may be trying to figure out what you’re going to do next.

That way they can easily tell if they should stick around or if they need to run away and hide.

They Associate You With Playtime Or Being Fed

The next reason a gerbil will stare at you is that they associate you with something.

Gerbils are really good at connecting certain actions or noises with different activities.

So if you come up to their cage and play with them frequently, they could be looking at you to see if it’s about to be playtime.

They could also be looking at you a lot because they associate you with being fed.

Gerbils can come to expect some form of food when they hear their food bag being rustled or even when you walk past their cage. This is especially the case when you feed them treats from your hand often.

Your Gerbil Is Just People-watching

Gerbils really love to people-watch. They’ll spend a decent amount of time looking at you or anybody else in the room to see what you’re doing.

When gerbils people-watch it’s not always out of fear, sometimes they just like to know what’s going on.

When they stare for this reason they’ll usually do it from a good high vantage point.

That way when they’re looking out at you to see what’s going on, they can have a great view so that they can see more of what you’re doing when you’re around them.

They’re Checking Their Surroundings

As your gerbil is staring at you they’re also looking at their surroundings. That’s mainly because they are prey animals and are almost constantly on alert.

When they’re looking at you and their surroundings they’re trying to gather as much information as they can about what’s going on around them.

Gerbils will watch for movement and they’ll be listening for noises so that they can figure out where it’s all coming from.

That way they can really be sure that the coast is clear so that they can continue on with their day.

Should You Be Worried If Your Gerbil Is Staring?

When a gerbil starts staring it can seem like an odd behavior but it’s actually very normal.

So it’s natural to wonder if you should be worried that they are doing this. Most of the time you generally shouldn’t be worried if your gerbil is staring at you though.

Because it’s such a natural behavior there’s not too much cause for concern, they’re most likely just really curious.

Especially when your gerbil is acting normally and they show that they are still very healthy.

That being said there are still times where you should be worried if your gerbil is staring. If your gerbil is staring for a really long time then that can mean that something is wrong.

If they’re staring at you or their surroundings for over an hour then they might be frozen in place out of fear.

This can happen when they get scared of something moving very fast around them or really loud noises.

They also display this behavior when they’re in a new environment and not that used to you yet. So if that’s the case, you should try bonding with your gerbil and give them some time to adjust to their new surroundings.

Gerbils Staring When They’re Scared

Gerbils will stare at their owners when they’re feeling relaxed and even when they’re scared of something.

So because they show this behavior for both of these reasons it can sometimes be really hard to tell what they’re feeling when they do this.

You can tell your gerbil is feeling relaxed and a little bit curious when they’re standing upright on their back legs with their arms and paws closer to their sides.

This usually means that they’re looking out at you just to see what you’re doing.

Once they see what you’re doing or get bored, they’ll typically go back to what they were doing before they started staring or they’ll just go do another activity altogether.

On the other hand, there’s also a way to figure out if your gerbil is staring at you because they’re scared.

If they’re staring at you out of fear then what you’ll usually see is something similar to when they stare out of curiosity.

They’ll still be on their back legs standing straight up, but this time their paws will be pressed against each other and it’ll almost look like they’re praying.

A gerbil will do this when they’re feeling stressed out or when they’re on high alert.

So once you know both of these behaviors, it’ll be a lot easier to tell if your gerbil is staring just because they’re curious or if they’re scared.

It’s Normal For Gerbils To Stare

Even though this behavior can be quite confusing it’s still very normal for gerbils to do.

These little pets are naturally curious and always want to know what’s going on around them.

Even when they’re feeling scared, they still can be brave enough to stand there and figure out the situation.

It’s still normal for them to stare for a decent amount of time as well. As long as their staring session doesn’t last for over an hour then there’s not much to worry about.

So as you can tell, there are a lot of possible reasons why a gerbil would stare at you.

But as long as you know some of their more common reasons and behaviors for staring, it can make it easier to figure out what they’re feeling when they start to look at you.


Hi, I'm Mason, I've kept small animals as pets since I was 8 years old. I love to learn and talk about them basically every day. Over the years I've adopted small pets like hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs.

Recent Posts

Our website does not constitute medical advice for pets, for medical advice for a pet please consult a licensed veterinarian.