Preparation for your gerbil's arrival into your life should begin as soon as you make the decision to add these playful creatures to your household. Take the time to do detailed research. Since it's recommended that gerbils be kept in pairs or groups, this article will address those concerns as well as the consideration of your own family situation.
Question other gerbil owners to become familiar with the responsibilities and requirements of your new pets. Your personal circumstances will affect the well being of your gerbils from the moment they arrive.
No matter what their broader environment might be, your gerbils need to be introduced to their own secure, quiet, clean surroundings without initial distractions. Set up a safe cage in advance, so the day you bring your gerbils home will be as worry-free as possible. Make yourself a checklist:
Make sure to bring them home in a secure container from which they can be easily removed. Since gerbils operate by scent it helps the acclimation process to include a bit of their original bedding in the container and their new cage.
If you have a single gerbil under ten weeks old and want to bring in a roommate, you will still want to get a gerbil who is under seven weeks old. If your gerbil is older, any other gerbil may threaten his territory and make co-habitation impossible. Effort will be needed to make the match successful:
The split cage method is preferred.
Masking the Scent Method
Hello In There!Your gerbils need to meet you in a non-threatening encounter, on their terms.
Because they are instinctively fearless, gerbils rarely bite. If they nip your finger, they're probably hungry or frightened. Wash your hands so they are free of any scents other than your own. Take your time and let them sniff. Gerbil eyesight is weak, and they'll explore with whiskers twitching. The taming process has begun.
Extend your hand into the cage as a balled fist. Let them sniff your fist; take it out. Repeat a few times. This will allow your gerbil to get used to your scent. If they seem reticent, don't worry. Gerbils are such curious pets it won't take long before this shyness wears off. Next, observe what they like to eat. Offer bits of food, first on the floor of the cage and then from your open palm. Let your gerbils take the treat from your hand and they'll begin to associate you with something good.
As they come into your hand, you will be able to stroke and pick them up. Once in your palm, gently scoop from the side or underneath and cup your hands around your pet so there is no possibility of escape.
Add your voice. As you tame your gerbils, speak in soothing tones and they'll come to recognize your voice. During the first two or three weeks, follow the socializing instructions until your gerbils can be lifted easily.
To raise healthy gerbils, it's imperative to remember how they behave. These creatures are domesticated but they are still full of their natural instincts. (Should you doubt it, watch yours in their cage as they snuggle and nest.) Those instincts include scurrying, burrowing and avoiding bright light. Gerbil paws are designed for clinging and they're more comfortable on anything that can be gripped - from your clothes to your furniture - than on smooth surfaces such as tabletops and kitchen counters.
These affectionate pets grow accustomed to handling and it keeps them tame. This is what you've been waiting for but that doesn't mean you can let down your guard. Your gerbils are fearless and active. They love to roam and explore.
What About the Rest of Us?
Other Pets: Your gerbils have no desire to meet the rest of your animal household. Cats, dogs and birds of any size may be perceived as overpowering enemies or a curiosity factor that may incite the larger animal to attack. Do not let other pets sniff, bark or bat at your gerbils' cage. Shock or fear leads to stress and can shorten your gerbils' lives.
If you let your gerbil run, it should always be in a confined area free from any other animals.
Children and Elders: You are the best judge of the handling ability of others. Because of their size and activity level, gerbils may be too active to be held by small children or adults unfamiliar with the skills needed. To avoid injury from a fall, the ideal place to let a child - or novice adult - hold your gerbil is on the floor. A startled or curious gerbil will bolt and can easily scurry off a smooth surface and injure himself.
Docile animals can do wonders for the elderly and ill. However, you should never offer your gerbil to anyone of any age who does not have the dexterity or practice of holding small active animals securely but not tightly. Instead, let them pet or admire them while you hold them.