Let’s face it: All of us at one point in our lives feel compelled to write about gerbils. It’s a rite of passage. With their rangy hind legs and furry tails—tails as long as their bodies—gerbils are sweet enough, in a rodenty sort of way, and so fascinating to watch. Seeing as how gerbils love to burrow, like dachshunds, I made an instant connection with this creature.
DIGGING GEMMA THE GERBIL
Davi: How did gerbils, of all the rodent species in the world, end up a popular pocket pet?
Gemma: Gerbils are naturally clean, quiet and gentle, and we can easily fit in a small apartment. We are also sociable creatures that enjoy the company of humans and other gerbils.
Tell me something about gerbils that would surprise most people.
Because our natural habitat is arid terrain, we are keen on water conservation. We don’t pee very much, and this means we smell cleaner than other rodents. And we have long tails that are able to shed, allowing us to escape predators!
What food do you crave most often?
Gerbils are omnivores, so we like to fill our bellies with fruits, veggies and nuts, but sunflower seeds are my favorite treat!
Do you have any special talents?
Gerbils are tunneling experts and will typically dig extensive networks of burrows, with tunnels leading to food stores, nesting areas and escape routes.
What do you do in your free time?
When I’m not busy running around the house in my exercise ball, I enjoy a cozy nap in my nest box.
Do gerbils need baths?
We have a unique way of bathing, which doesn’t involve water at all. We roll around in sand or dust, which clears away dirt and debris, and keeps our fur silky soft.
How do you communicate with other gerbils?
Thumping! We thump the ground with our hind feet whenever we get frightened, excited or we are stressed. We also do it to let others know of any danger from approaching predators.
Do gerbils like music?
Gerbils are sensitive to sound and can hear music. We mostly enjoy classical music played quietly, as it’s relaxing, but loud or chaotic music, like rock and metal, can be stressful.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from simply meeting you?
Gerbils are notorious for food hoarding. We will take food to various places in our cage for storage, bury it and often forget about it.
What do you think about when you are staring out of your comfy cave?
I dream of becoming a great ninja in Mongolia, protecting my desert tribe from the dangers of the land!
What three words perfectly sum you up?
Calm, cute, and curious.
That sentiment is not surprising, since the small, furry and inquisitive creatures look adorable when they nibble on their food, stand on their hind feet or scurry around their environment. There’s no denying that these desert dwellers can make fantastic pets.