For many people, rodents are unpleasant creatures, so they do not take the time to get to know these unique and rare animals, not knowing that there is a great variety of them, including Gerbils.
Perhaps by knowing more about his peculiar qualities and abilities he will end up deserving a different opinion.
Unique characteristics of the Gerbils
These rare mammals at first sight usually resemble other rodents, their size is intermediate between rats and mice, which gives them a general size of 12cm; their tail is usually the same length as their body.
Their legs are also particular, the front ones being shorter than the back ones. The latter remain bent, giving it a running start that very few animals possess, and thus becoming a difficult prey to hunt.
In addition, its legs are equipped with very sharp claws that serve both to dig and to get food. They weigh up to 100 grams.
Although they have very original colors as a species, they have crossed so much that there are many and varied colors, making them more colorful and pleasant, to the point of being a pet that is becoming increasingly popular.
These crosses have also led to some characteristics even disappearing, such as the fact that some no longer have their white abdomens as they originally did.
Their eyes can be very black or vibrant red.
Their body care is quite simple, if they have at least one partner, they will groom themselves, removing the tangles in their coat.
This stimulates the skin and keeps it healthy and in optimal condition to continue having a good coat.
An interesting fact is that their skin secretes natural oils that strengthen the coat. This incredible capacity is very useful as they are animals from arid and desert regions.
Natural and Captive habitat
The Meriones Unguiculatus, the scientific name of the Gerbil, is native to Mongolia, yet it can be found in the desert regions of Eastern Europe, Asia and even Africa.
That’s why these rare animals are also nicknamed “desert rats”.
Their usual home is a self-built burrow that can reach up to 2.5 meters in length; it can extend several meters below the ground and have many entrances and exits.
They build several chambers in the tunnel that have different functions: food storage or bedroom.
As they are kept as pets, gerbils also require regular and special care. In view of their hyperactive character, they need to have enough space for their crazy sudden speed starts, so we suggest a metal cage of about 50cm by 50cm and at least 30cm high.
You should also add some objects that help him to play and discharge his energy, like the classic hamster wheel and some pieces of wood to gnaw on and keep his teeth from growing.
Feeding the Gerbils
They are mainly herbivores, which includes foods such as carrots, parsley, lettuce, grass, dandelions, and the like.
They also enjoy nuts such as auyama seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, wheat, corn, barley and even oats.
Like all mammals, this rare animal needs water, although it is not a regular consumer of the precious liquid as it is used to water shortages in the desert.
However, if you have it at home, you need a good container to put the water in to prevent it from getting dirty or even drowning.
How these Rare Mammals reproduce?
Gerbils reproduce quickly, reaching sexual maturity at 3 or 4 months of age and in each litter between 2 and 10 young can be born.
The male can reproduce with practically only one female. The couple collaborates in the process of building the nest, which can be made of grass, small sticks, hair and their own skin.
The gestation period lasts about 24 days. During the first weeks they depend exclusively on their mother’s milk, and as they reach maturity the parents will provide them with more nutritious and solid food, as well as water.
Almost immediately after the birth they can copulate again and procreate a new litter of gerbils.
Why have a Gerbil as a pet?
These small animals have served in many researches since decades. Their versatility, resistance, easy and economic maintenance, their yield capacity when reproducing has won them this use.
On the other hand, many people have seen in gerbils a life partner for both adults and children.
Their ability to adapt to humans and their confident and friendly character gives them a good reputation as pets.
Although they are not so long-lived animals, they do reproduce extensively and frequently, which guarantees us a constant supply of pets. However, this does not replace the affection and attachment we might develop for one in particular.
Do they have predators?
Several animals are considered gerbil predators, to mention a few we have snakes, owls, hawks, wild cats, foxes and jackals.
However, because they can escape relatively easily, the predator has to make a great effort to capture them, and most of the time it is not successful.