Do Gerbils Make Good Pets? Are They Good Pets For Children?

gerbil in a glass

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Gerbils are an incredibly popular pet in the USA, and it’s not difficult to see why. They are, after all, abundantly cute in appearance and have fantastic and friendly personalities.

They are also reputedly one of the easiest pets to care for that require very little space. This makes them all the more appealing to many people. 

There are many factors when you’re thinking of buying a gerbil as a pet. Gerbils do make good pets and are easy to care for and feed. These cute and fun pets love being handled and enjoy human interaction. Inexpensive to buy and keep makes them the ideal pet.

Do Gerbils Make Good Pets? Are They Good Pets For Children? 3

Having great appeal to many potential owners, however, does not necessarily equate to the gerbil being the perfect or even a good pet.

Rather, it just means that we think or hope that they are because we want to own one. Gerbils need more research and investigation to answer the question……..

Do gerbils make good pets?

Generally speaking, gerbils make absolutely amazing pets for the very reasons mentioned above.

They are, after all, incredibly cute, friendly, and amusing with the ability to build strong relationships with their owners.

However, these traits are not the only thing to take into consideration when assessing the gerbil as a pet, you also need to take a look at their requirements of care. 

FUN FACT: Gerbils and Hamsters are illegal to own in Hawaii and California.

Gerbils need appropriate housing, daily care, and plenty of interaction with their owners. If you cannot provide this, they are not a good pet for you.

They also have a certain level of cost involved with them. Though these costs are relatively small compared to many other animals, you still need to take it into account. 

Do Gerbils Make Good Pets? Are They Good Pets For Children? 4
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Gerbils are also not necessarily good pets for those with cats or dogs that may bother the gerbil even if it’s in its cage.

The situation of the cat or dog constantly attempting to get to the gerbil could prove to be incredibly stressful.

Having other pets may also limit your ability to allow your gerbil out of its cage for exercise purposes which will be detrimental to their health. 

We use carefresh bedding for all our small pets including gerbils. It’s very hygienic and stays fresher for longer. It’s inexpensive and really easy to clean out of their cage.

Check that the country or state you live in allows Gerbils as pets. Hawaii and California are just two that have banned people from owning Hamsters and gerbils.

Read why in our article about this topic. The reasons are understandable but bad news for rodent lovers.

gerbil in bedding
Good bedding can makes all the difference.

What About Children? Do Gerbils Make Good Pets For Them?

Gerbils are quite often chosen as a good pet for children and they can be for all the aforementioned reasons.

However, this conclusion comes with caveats such as you can’t just buy your child a gerbil and leave them to it. This situation would very rarely work out well, in fact, it’s likely to be a disaster.

As an adult, you are responsible, first and foremost, for the daily needs of your child’s gerbil. Children, especially younger ones, can rarely be relied on to provide long-term care for pets.

Feeding, watering, cleaning out cages, all need to be done on a daily basis. Children often become bored with these daily chores, so it is up to you to check that all is well in the gerbil’s life.  

We found a really good care guide written by the Bluecross on Gerbil care.

Secondly, gerbils can be prone to injuries when in the hands of youngsters. Accidents happen such as dropping, squeezing too hard, or just picking up in the wrong way.

Picking a gerbil up, for example, by its tail, can result in the tail being broken off!

Only children who are experienced in handling small animals should be allowed to pick them up, and even then supervision would be recommended.

Thirdly, your gerbil is not the only one at risk of injury if you do not get them used to being handled. Though they are docile, gerbils will still bite or scratch when mishandled or frightened.

This could also be more of a problem with gerbils than other rodents due to them being nocturnal. When your child is awake, their gerbil is asleep.

Waking up a sleeping gerbil may startle them into biting. 


Finally, and this can be a deal breaker with gerbils as children’s pets is the fact that they only have short lifespans.

On average gerbils survive for only two to three years and the loss of one can be distressing for your child. There are, however, some that have lived as long as eight years. These are a rarity nonetheless and not to be taken as the norm.

FUN FACT: Gerbils teeth never stop growing until the day they die!

Gerbil Overall Pros And Cons

If you are still unsure whether or not a gerbil is a good pet for you the following is a list of the major pros and cons which will hopefully help you decide. 


  • Gerbils are great companions. As you get to know them you will see their personalities pop, and they will grow to love spending time with you.
  • Gerbils are inexpensive to keep. Their only needs are a good enclosure, bedding, food, and water, with many cages coming with food and water bowls and wheels. 
  • You can keep Gerbils in the smallest or largest homes and they do not need to be taken out for walks. They do, however, require some out of cage exercise, such as running in a gerbil ball or playing in an enclosure.


  • Gerbils are not the best pet option for those with young children. This is due to their being relatively fragile and being awake when your child is asleep. Nobody wants a pet to be hurt after all, and children can become quickly bored with a pet that, as far as they are concerned, just sleep.
  • Gerbils need daily care; they need to be fed, watered and exercised. There can be no days off from gerbil care, they need it 365 days a year.
  • Gerbils are not the longest living pets which could be an issue especially for those with young children. Losing a pet can be devastating to them, and to put it bluntly, if it is happening every two to three years may not be worth the misery. 

Do gerbils like to be held?

Yes, gerbils do like to be held, but you have to get them to trust you first. With some patience and a bunch of treats, they may not want to be put down!

Are gerbils friendlier than hamsters?

In general, yes, gerbils are friendlier than hamsters. Gerbils don’t like being alone, so they pair up with another gerbil or their owner (only if you can give them enough attention). Gerbils also don’t bite as often as hamsters.

Are gerbils okay on their own?

No, gerbils do not like being alone. If you are buying a gerbil as a pet you need to buy at least two if you leave the house often for work, school, or trips.

Can you teach a gerbil tricks?

Yes! you can teach your gerbil to do tricks using voice commands or hand gestures. Make sure you have plenty of treats for rewards.

Conclusion: Do Gerbils Make Good Pets?

The truth is that gerbils undoubtedly make fantastic pets. They have cuteness, personality, and the ability to please in absolute abundance.

They are also relatively easy to care for, cheap to maintain and suit every size of home possible. 

However, just like many animals, they are not the perfect pet for everyone. Those with younger children may wish to consider a slightly longer living pet, and one that is a little more robust, whilst those who do not want to, or can’t provide daily care may wish to consider something different too.

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