Gerbil Size vs Hamster Size ( List of Rodent Sizes )

  • Author: Meighen McIntyre
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Knowing the size of a pet is a very important piece of information before you adopt a new friend. So many people buy dogs based on a size that suits their lifestyle, but what about on a smaller scale? What is the size difference between a hamster and a gerbil?

Hamsters, in general, are larger than gerbils, and they make a better pet for children than gerbils. Gerbils are smaller, more active and have strong back legs for jumping, so they are much more entertaining to watch. 

Size Difference

There are quite a few different breeds of hamsters and gerbils, but hamsters, in general, are bigger than gerbils. 

The most common hamster sold in pet stores are Syrian hamsters, and they are usually around 6 inches. Mongolian gerbils are the most common pet store gerbil and they are usually around 4 inches long. 

If you’re looking to buy a hamster or gerbil as a pet, size is pretty important if you have young kids. The larger the hamster or gerbil is, the easier it will be for little hands to hold onto them. This means that your hamster or gerbil is going to be dropped or accidentally squished. 

If you’re out buying a pet and you want to know how big the hamster or gerbil will be at full size, check out this chart. 

Rodent TypeLengthWeight
Syrian Hamster6 inches100g
Dwarf Campbell Russian Hamster4 inches27g
Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamster4 inches30g
Roborovski Dwarf Hamster2 inches20g
Chinese Hamster4 inches35g
Mongolian Gerbil4 inches58g
Fat-Tailed Gerbil3 inches40g
Hamster and Gerbil Comparison Chart

How to Tell Them Apart

They might both be rodents, but there are several ways to tell these little critters apart. 

Their Size

Size is somewhat of an unreliable differentiator. A Mongolian gerbil can be bigger than a dwarf hamster. The size makes the list because of the Syrian hamster.

If the rodent you’re holding is six inches long, and the pet store is telling you it’s a gerbil, that is highly unlikely. What you are holding is more likely to be a hamster.

Gerbil Size vs Hamster Size
Teddy Hamsters are one of the largest species of Hamsters

Their Faces

A hamster face is going to be much rounder with chubby cheeks, and have a shorter snout. Gerbils have a leaner face and a longer snout like a mouse. 

Their Legs

Hamsters and gerbils will both sit on their back legs, but the shape of the legs are very different. Gerbils use their back legs to jump, so they are much more muscular.

They also have larger feet and longer legs to help them jump. Hamsters, however, don’t jump, so their legs are going to be less muscular, shorter, and have much smaller feet. 

Their Tail

Because gerbils are jumping creatures, their tail helps keep them balanced and help them when they land. For a tail to be effective, it needs to be relatively long, and a gerbil’s tail definitely is!

Their tails are about 4 inches long, or as long as their body is. Hamster’s tails are short and stubby. The tail is the easiest way to differentiate hamsters from gerbils. 

gerbil sitting on a hand

The tail is also a great way to tell gerbils apart from mice.

A gerbil’s tail is fatter and furrier than the tail of a mouse. 

What They Need

With different sizes and body types, come different care needs. This is a very short comparison of needs between gerbils and hamsters.

If you want to own one of them as a pet, you should look up full care tips. 

Hamsters

Hamsters don’t do well in groups and need to be kept alone. Just because they live alone doesn’t mean they don’t need their space. A hamster cage should be at least 2 feet long.

The colorful plastic cages don’t offer enough space to comfortably house a hamster.

Hamsters eat about 2 tablespoons of food every day, and their cages need to be cleaned once a week so your pet isn’t sitting in damp bedding. 

Gerbils 

Gerbils prefer to be kept in small groups of two or three. The best type of home for gerbils is an aquarium with a mesh lid because they chew through everything, including metal bars!

They do love eating, and they should be fed three to four times a day.

Gerbils don’t produce a lot of urine, and their poops are small, solid pellets, so you don’t need to clean their tank as frequently; every two weeks or so unless you notice there is more waste to clean up than normal. 

Do Gerbils or Hamsters Bite?

No. Hamsters are very gentle and non-aggressive animals. They do not have sharp teeth, so they can’t really bite humans.
Gerbils are rodents and they can bite humans. They have teeth that are sharp, so these bites can be painful. Luckily for us, gerbils only bite when provoked or threatened! In this blog post we’ll explore why a gerbil might bite their owner.

How long do Gerbils and Hamsters live?

Hamsters have a lifespan of two years while gerbils live for about three. Both species have been known to live longer but were going on the average lifespan of both pets.

Should i get a Hamster or a Gerbil as a pet?

Hamsters and gerbils are great pets for adults with children over the age of 12. They need a lot of attention, but not so much that it is overwhelming to care for them while juggling work or other family responsibilities.

Do Hamsters and Gerbils play at night or day?

Whilst hamsters are generally nocturnal, gerbils are usually diurnal, meaning they’re up and about during the day

What’s the biggest Hamster Species?

The largest hamster on the planet is called a Syrian Hamsters, also known as Teddy Bear or Golden Hamster. These fluffy creatures get up to 6-7 inches in length and prefer living alone because they need more room than smaller breeds like Dwarf ones do.

Final Thoughts

In general, hamsters are larger, have a rounder face, and a stubbier tail. If you have young children, the largest type of hamster, a Syrian hamster, is the best option for their little hands.

Gerbils are smaller, are excellent jumpers, and can chew through metal bars to get out of a cage. 

Now that you know the difference in size, you can make a better choice for yourself or your family.