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a pair of brown gerbils

Can Gerbils Live Alone? Will They Get Lonely?

Gerbils are undoubtedly a great addition to any family, but can Gerbils live alone or do you need a pair or small group?

Gerbils are happy, friendly creatures with endearing personalities, and make the cutest of noises. They also form really strong bonds with their owners and each other, making them the ideal rodent pet if you want to keep more than one of them together. 

Being very social animals that like to play and groom each other, gerbils usually (in their natural habitat) live in groups of two or more. This is also how they prefer to live in captivity too, and you should aim for a trio or more.

gerbil pair
Gerbils Like To Live In Groups

But Can Gerbils Live Alone?

Can Gerbils Live Alone? Gerbils can live alone. However, unless your gerbil meets certain criteria, they should always be kept in groups. Lone gerbils will be prone to loneliness and lethargy. They will miss the hustle and bustle of a social environment. If you only have the room or time to care for one, you should really consider a different pet. 

It is worth mentioning here that you may come across solitary gerbils in pet stores with warnings that they have had fights with another gerbil. This does not mean, however, that they cannot be introduced to other gerbils at all.

Occasionally, even the most sociable of gerbils will come across another that he just can’t get along with. The chances are this gerbil will be just fine with others as long as you follow the simple introduction procedure covered later in this article.

When Can A Gerbil Live Alone?

There are several reasons/times when it may be best or a necessity for your gerbil to live alone. These include:

A dislike of other gerbils – It is very rare, but occasionally you may come across a gerbil that just doesn’t want to or doesn’t know how to be companionable. To avoid this kind of gerbil fighting with others they would be best kept separately. 

can gerbils live alone image

Your gerbil is too old – It is possible that you may find yourself in the position where all but one of your group of gerbils has passed away. In this situation, you will need to decide whether it is fair to put your surviving gerbil through the process of being introduced to new companions.

Remember, by age three or four, gerbils would be considered to be of retirement age. This means they may well not react favorably to whippersnappers climbing and jumping all over them. 

You are stopping keeping gerbils – There may come a time when you decide to no longer keep gerbils, and if this is the case, it would be fair to say that the ones you have will not all pass away at the same time. At some point, you are going to be left with just one gerbil and it will be perfectly acceptable for them to live out the rest of their lives alone.

Sick or injured gerbils – Whilst most gerbils remain fit and healthy for the majority of their lives illnesses and injuries can occur. If this is the case the result may be that your gerbil needs his or her own space. This could last for a short period, just until the illness or injury abates, or perhaps it will be longer-term and your gerbil will require peace and quiet. 

I Think My Gerbil Needs A Companion, How Do I Introduce Them To One?

If after reading all about gerbils preferring not to be alone you want to give yours a companion, then the procedure to follow couldn’t be easier. Simply……………

1. Separate your gerbil cage into two halves using a ‘split cage insert’ which you can purchase at pet stores. This is usually made of wire to enable both gerbils to be able to see and smell each other.

2. Ensure you stock BOTH sides of the cage with all the essentials such as bedding, food bowls, and water bottles. Do not, however, give them toys as these can increase the likelihood of one gerbil or the other becoming territorial.  When purchasing food bowls and water bottles ensure that you buy bacteria-free products. We use these food bowls as they are bacteria-free and easy to clean and sterilize from Living World Ergonomics.

Can Gerbils Live Alone? Will They Get Lonely? 1
Image Credit @WikiHow

3. Place both your gerbils into the cage (one each side) at the same time. Again this will decrease the chances of one becoming territorial. Swap the gerbils three times a day for seven days to allow them to get familiar with the other’s scent. 

4. Watch for signs that the gerbils are beginning to get along. Good signs include sleeping next to each other at the partition, grooming each other through the partition, and not marking the other gerbil’s side when you swap them. 

5. Finally, after seven days try removing the partition and setting it aside. Please note, thick gloves should be worn in case you need to separate a fight, and the partition should be within arms reach for the same reason. 

Hopefully, at this point, you will see signs that your gerbils are fine, and making friends. Chasing, squeaking, wrestling, sniffing, and boxing on hind legs are all really good signs. You should, however, watch them carefully for the next half to ensure that a fight does not break out. If one does, simply replace the partition and try the process again in a weeks time. 

pair of gerbils
Gerbils are happier in pairs or small groups

Conclusion: Can Gerbils Live Alone?

As we have seen gerbils are the perfect example of the old adage ‘just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should!’ Yes, they will survive and be Ok on their own, but the chances are that they won’t be happy. Rather, you should give your gerbil a companion or two, then simply sit back and watch them thrive.

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MidWest Homes for Pets Hamster Cage | Awesome Arcade Hamster Home | 18.11" x 11.61" x 21.26"

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Can Gerbils Live Alone? Will They Get Lonely? 2
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8 in 1 Ecotrition Essential Blend for Hamsters and Gerbils, 2 Pound

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  • Scientifically Formulated: Contains A Fortified Mix Of Healthy Ingredients Designed To Help Hamsters And Gerbils Flourish.
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Choco Nose H125 Patented No Drip Hamster Water Bottle, Best Mini-Sized Pet Water Feeder for Hamster/Hedgehog/Sugar Glider/Rat/Mice, 11.2 oz, Nozzle Diameter, 10mm, Blue

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  • U.S patented leak-proof nozzle/no drip water bottle/BPA-Free/11.2 oz/330ml capacity
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Hutch and does not provide veterinary advice. Our aim is to provide the reader with information to enable them to make a good decision when making a purchase or caring for their pet. All content is therefore for informational purposes only. If you're concerned about the health of your pet you should seek medical advice from a vet.