Do you have a pet? A good many of us do. After goldfish, cats and dogs are the most popular. But a good first pet for a child is the gerbil. They’re quite easy to look after and make great indoor animals. But what do you know about the gerbil? Here are some interesting gerbil facts to entertain you:
- Gerbils live in burrows. In the wild they dig extensive systems of tunnels under the ground where they make their homes. Obviously, pet gerbils can’t do this but they still have an instinct to dig, so make sure you provide them with plenty of ‘dig-able’ material, like wood shavings
- Like rabbits, gerbils get around by hopping rather than walking. They also ‘thump’ the ground with their feet, just like rabbits, to warn others of approaching danger
- Gerbils also share a common trait with hamsters – they both love to hoard food. Gerbils don’t have cheek-pouches like their relatives though. Instead they carry food back to their nests in their ‘hands’ and mouths
- They are very social animals and like to live in large groups. If you have just one gerbil then make sure that you give it plenty of attention, otherwise it may get lonely
- The natural habitat of the gerbil is the desert. One alternative name for them is the ‘desert rat’. Because they adapted for desert life, gerbils don’t have to drink much water – they get most of their moisture from their food
- Like all rodents, a gerbils’ teeth are continuously growing. They have to gnaw a lot in order to keep their teeth short, so make sure that your pet has plenty of things to chew
There is much more to learn about gerbils. If you’d like one as your pet then I suggest reading this RSPCA web page which has lots of information you may find useful. And if you are a pet lover, then take a look at some more of our articles here in Nature Matters. We have plenty about pets, including this one which offers advice on suitable pets for children – go on, take a look!