What are gerbils?


Gerbils are rodents. Mice, rats, and squirrels are also rodents. Rodents are special because their teeth grow all the time, so they need to chew.


Gerbils are mammals. They have 5 to 8 babies in each litter. The mother is pregnant for 24 days. The babies are tiny, have no fur, and cannot see or hear when they are born. Mammal babies drink milk from their mothers.



The mother and father gerbil both take care of the babies. The mother feeds her babies milk. The father sits on them to keep them warm. Both parents groom the babies to keep them clean. Gerbils can have a lot of babies! Moonda, the mother of your class’s gerbils, has had 27 babies since December!


Gerbils originally come from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Mongolia is in China. Desert animals need to learn to live with little water. Gerbils in the desert can live their whole lives without ever taking a drink of water! They get water from plants, seeds, and insects they eat. But tame gerbils in a cage have learned to rely on water. They must have fresh water all the time.


In the wild, gerbils live in large groups called clans. We call our pet gerbil families clans, too. Gerbil clans do not like gerbils from other clans. They will fight. Gerbils thump their feet to warn their clan of danger.


Gerbils are prey animals. Owls, weasels and vultures eat gerbils in the wild. Gerbils have good hearing. They can run fast and jump several inches off the ground to avoid being caught! In the wild, they are fierce when caught. But pet gerbils are gentle and rarely bite.

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