How Big Do Gerbils Get? Size | Growth Rate | Lifespan | Time Scales

gerbil sitting on a hand

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Interested in getting a new small and furry pet, like a gerbil? Or perhaps you already have one, but are just interested to see how it compares to other rodents in the family?

The exact answer depends on its sex and individual breed. Even its life expectancy depends on what breed it is! The average length of a fully grown gerbil is 4 inch not including the tail and weighs 2-4 oz.

In this article, we’ll explore the different sizes and life expectancies of gerbils and how their breeds can effect that.


How Big Do Gerbils Get?

Think you have a large gerbil? Let’s see.

Gerbils are generally very small, weighing between 2-4 ounces as adults. They can also grow to be about 4 inches long, with their tail almost as long as their entire body.

On average, gerbils are around 7 inches long, when measured from the tip of their nose to the end of their tail.

Like many other animals, the size of a gerbil also depends on its sex. Male gerbils tend to be a bit larger than female gerbils, which also tend to have a slightly narrower body.

For instance, while a male gerbil is around 2-4 ounces, a female gerbil usually tops at 3 ounces.

Different Sizes In Different Breeds

The size of your gerbil also depends on its individual breed. The exact number changes depending on which source you look at, but basically, there are nearly 100 different breeds of gerbils around the world.

One source says that 80 of these have apparently been identified, while the remaining 20 are presumably just loitering around in the wild, avoiding humans.

someone holding a gerbil
There are many different breeds of gerbils and all grow to different sizes

Some of the most common Gerbils are the following:

  • Mongolian gerbil. One of the most popular gerbil species, since it’s the one that’s most commonly used as a pet. It has a very nice temperament and is rather friendly towards humans. It typically grows to around 4 inches long in adulthood.
  • Egyptian gerbil. Native to the desert lands of Northern Africa, this gerbil species measures up to 3 inches long.
  • Indian gerbil. This gerbil only grows up to 2 inches long, but be careful – it’s an aggressive species that tends to bite people. It lives in Southern Asia.
  • Lybian gerbil. A large gerbil species that grows up to 3-6 inches on average. It’s native to North Africa and some parts of Western and Central Asia. It also tends to be more aggressive than other breeds.
  • Snowshoe gerbil. Also known as the Namib brush-tailed gerbil, this gerbil breed can be found in Africa, specifically Namibia and Angola. It got its moniker from the white color of its legs and feet, despite the sandy brown color of its actual fur. It’s quite small compared to other gerbils, only growing up to three inches long.
  • Przewalski’s gerbil. A breed of gerbil that can only be found in China. It looks like a very cute and furry rat, and measures almost exactly like one too. It’s also one of the biggest gerbil breeds of all, measuring around 8 inches on average, almost twice that of the average gerbil. One interesting fact about it is that unlike other gerbils, the Przewalski’s gerbil has a short tail.

How Do Gerbil Sizes Compare To Other Rodents?

Gerbils may look just like other rodent species, but they do have some key differences, especially in size.

Rat vs Gerbil

Rats are generally bigger and longer than gerbils, although there are some gerbil species that can compare to the size of an average rat.

For example, the Przewalski’s gerbil, one of the largest gerbil species, is comparable to the average rat.

However, do keep in mind that rats can get much, much bigger. New York City rats, also known as brown rats, typically grow up to 16 inches in length.

That’s twice as long as most Przewalski’s gerbils. Meanwhile, the biggest rat of them all, the Gambian pouched rat, actually measures three feet long. That’s a huge, huge rat alright.

Hamster vs Gerbil

Hamsters, despite their small size, tend to be bigger or at least the same size as the average gerbil.

Most adult hamsters are around 6 inches long, which is a bit more than the average gerbil. Some ‘tiny’ hamster species, however, are only around 2-4 inches in length, similar to the Mongolian gerbil.

pair of hamsters
Most hamster breeds are bigger than gerbils

Mouse vs Gerbil

Mice are usually smaller, or just around the same size, as the average gerbil.

Most adult house mice are just about 3-4 inches in length, which is the same as the most common gerbils as well. They typically look the same too, albeit with larger ears and rounder faces.

Guinea Pig vs Gerbil

Guinea pigs, like rats, are usually larger than the average gerbil.

Adult guinea pigs are typically 8-10 inches in length, which is even bigger than the average Przewalski’s gerbil, which is already one of the biggest gerbil species.

Guinea pigs also tend to weigh way more than gerbils. On average, an adult guinea pig weighs anywhere from 25-40 ounces, basically ten times that of an adult gerbil.

kid and guinea pig
The biggest breed of guinea pig is the rex breed which can grow to 17 inch

How Long Do Gerbils Live?

There’s no set answer as to how long gerbils live, as their life expectancy differs greatly from breed to breed.

One of the most common gerbil breeds, the Mongolian gerbil, lives up to five (5) years of age. On average, it has a life expectancy of 3-5 years, barring any major illnesses or accidents.

However, the Duprasi gerbil, a species native to the desert areas west of the Nile river, lives up to 7 years. That’s certainly impressive for a gerbil.


  1. What’s the tallest gerbil in the world? The Rhombomys opimus gerbil can grow up to 16 inches in height.
  2. Where did Gerbils come from? The pet species of gerbil originated in the deserts of Mongolia.
  3. How long do gerbils live? The average lifespan of a pet gerbil is 3-4 years depending on the breed of Gerbil and the care you give your pet.
  4. How long is a gerbils tail? The average length of a gerbils tail is 4-6 inches. Half their body size.

Conclusion: How big do gerbils get?

Gerbils are generally small rodents, but there are some like the Przewalski’s gerbil which can grow to be as big as rats.

When compared to other rodents, gerbils are on the smaller side. They’re bigger than mice but smaller than hamsters, rats, and definitely guinea pigs.

In terms of life expectancy, it also varies on the gerbil’s breed. The Mongolian gerbil is one of the most common gerbil breeds, for example, and it can live up to five years of age.

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