Why Is My Gerbil So Aggressive?

Most gerbils can usually be really calm and loving when they’re around their owners or other gerbils that they’re used to.

While some gerbils will spend their day acting very confrontational towards others.

When they behave this way it can seem like they’re doing it for almost no reason at all, so what can make a gerbil so aggressive?

Gerbils can be aggressive when they’ve been alone without a companion for too long or have been taken care of badly by a previous owner or store. Gerbils will also act aggressively when they associate their owners with bad experiences.

Even though an aggressive gerbil can make it really hard to take care of them, you should still try your best to help them become calmer.

Figuring out the reason why they’re that way can make it a lot easier to help them become less aggressive over time.

Why Is My Gerbil Aggressive?

If you have a gerbil that is acting really aggressive it could be because they’re not comfortable with something.

That can be other gerbils, their environment, or even you if they’re still newer to your home.

Sometimes it takes a while for a gerbil to get used to new people or new settings so it makes sense that they’ll be a little defensive until they can get more familiar with everything.

Another reason why a gerbil will be aggressive is if they were badly taken care of before you adopted them.

The bad handling could have been from the store that you got them from or a previous owner even if it was accidental.

So now they’re more aggressive with you because they associate their human caretakers with bad experiences.

A gerbil that is hiding an injury will also be more confrontational. They’re really good at hiding injuries so you may not even notice that they’re hurt, but what you will notice is that they’ll lash out every now and then.

Some gerbils are just more aggressive than others as well. All gerbils are different with their own personalities so sometimes they’re just born that way.

One more reason why a gerbil can be aggressive is if they were alone for too long.

They could have ended up alone for a while because other gerbils that they were housed with were adopted from the store and they weren’t.

It can even happen when they’re alone without a companion at home as well.

The reason why that can make them act more aggressively is that gerbils are social animals and being alone for a long period of time can cause them to be uncomfortable and very defensive.

Is It Normal For A Gerbil To Be So Aggressive?

As I said before, some gerbils are just born slightly more aggressive than others.

Even though a lot of gerbils can be born kind-hearted and calm it’s still normal to have a gerbil that isn’t born that way.

Becoming more insecure and aggressive over time because they have been left alone without that many social interactions is also normal behavior for them as well.

Those two examples along with the other reasons that were stated above are why a gerbil can become aggressive.

These are all normal reactions to the specific situations that they were previously in or the situation that they are currently in.

So that being said, most likely it’s not your fault that they are this way, and all that you can do for them is have patience and try to help them become less hostile as time goes on.

Helping A Gerbil Become Less Aggressive

If your gerbil is acting violently and biting a lot then you’ll want to wear a pair of gloves when you’re interacting with them and trying to help them become less aggressive.

Using those gloves will help with preventing them from nipping at you while still giving them a chance to get used to your scent.

While you’re trying to help them out you should also speak and handle them in a calm way.

That way you won’t accidentally increase their aggressiveness. So when it comes to making a gerbil less aggressive, some good ways to do that are:

  • Give them treats and toys from your hand.
  • Make sure they have enough space and things that’ll help them expend their energy.
  • Minimize loud noises.
  • Try introducing them to other gerbils.
  • Use the split cage method if they’re aggressive with other gerbils.

Give Your Gerbil Treats From Your Hand

One of the best ways to help get a gerbil more used to you is to give them things directly from your hand.

If you notice that they have a certain food or treat that they like you can try setting some of those to the side so that you can occasionally give it to them later.

You can also do the same thing with the toys that they like as well, like toilet paper rolls.

This can work with any positive reinforcement in general. So as time goes on, a gerbil will become more familiar with you when you give them things from your hands.

This works really well because they’ll start to associate you with good experiences, and that can make them less aggressive.

Make Sure Your Gerbil Has Enough Space

You should make sure that they have a decent amount of space to run around and play in.

A gerbil that doesn’t have enough space may start to feel boxed in and that can cause them to lash out.

You should also keep items in their cage that can help them expend some of their stored up energy.

Gerbils are a lot calmer when they have multiple activities that they can do that will keep them active and occupied.

You can do that by adding a lot of bedding so that they are able to burrow and hide when they want to.

You can also keep small huts for when they get stressed, toys to help with their natural urge to chew, and running wheels to help them exercise and expend their leftover energy.

Minimize Loud Noises

Another reason why a gerbil can become aggressive is if there are too many loud noises going on around them.

Those loud noises can scare them which can make them more defensive and cause them to be really combative.

So you should try to do your best to minimize loud noises around them as much as you can.

Those noises can come from a loud TV, loud music, or even other pets in your home.

Once your gerbil can hear their surroundings a little bit better they’re more likely to be a lot calmer.

Try Introducing Them To Other Gerbils

If you only have one gerbil, try introducing them to another companion or companions.

They’ll be able to socialize with them and can try to establish a natural hierarchy.

Because gerbils are so social, this hierarchy will allow them to be able to become more familiar with each other, which is a really good thing for them.

They’ll be able to create strong bonds with their new friends and they’ll be a lot less aggressive.

The main reason why being around other gerbils can help them become calmer, is that they feel more secure and because of that they’ll be less defensive about certain situations.

Gerbils are naturally social creatures, so they really thrive when they can be around other gerbils that they get along well with.

Use The Split Cage Method

A gerbil that is really aggressive with another gerbil can end up harming them.

So to try to prevent that you can use the split cage method. Splitting the cage in half and separating the two gerbils for a while can really help with the situation.

If you do want to do this method, then you can try splitting the cage right down the middle with some mesh wire.

It’ll allow them to still see, smell, and interact with each other without giving them the chance to fight.

You can continue to do this until they calm down a little more or get used to each other.

Have Patience With An Aggressive Gerbil

If your gerbil is still acting very aggressively try to have some patience with them.

Some are just born that way and you never really know what they went through before you adopted them.

Remember not all gerbils will be able to easily get used to their owners from the start.

So the best way to get them more familiar with you is to stay consistent when you’re trying to get them to be calmer.

They may even start to come around after a while if they associate you with good experiences.

So even if they stay slightly aggressive, keep showing your gerbil a lot of love because they definitely deserve it.


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.

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