How Long Does A Gerbil Live? All You Need To Know

Before adopting any creature as a pet, it is usual for you to be curious about its lifespan. Similarly, if you wonder how long does a gerbil lives, you have come to the right place. Wondering why? Gerbils are some of the most adorable creatures you will ever come across with their cute little bodies and long whiskers. Well, we will be discussing everything that you need to know about the lifespan of your little pet gerbil. 

The life duration of a gerbil varies depending upon which breed or species it belongs to. Do you know that it can live for anywhere from 1 to 8 years? Imagine how wide is the range of longevity of a gerbil!

The survival of this mini creature is largely dependent upon its food habits, living environment, health care, proper exercise, etc. Let’s now dig deep into the details about the lifespan of the gerbil. Let’s get started with the chief discussion!

How Long Do Gerbils Live?

Generally, the lifespan of gerbils varies from one another because of the factors of breed, living conditions, survival habits, food requirements, etc., that influence the total number of years for which this little rodent can live.

how long does a gerbil live

On average, the life expectancy of your pet gerbils may vary from 2 to 5 years. Since a majority of the people keep Mongolian gerbils as their pets, it is essential for them to realize that they have a lifespan of 2 to 3 or 4 years. 

However, the lifespan of a wild gerbil is in stark contrast to that of the usual domestic or pet gerbils. While dwelling in the wild, the gerbils hardly manage to live till a year.

This is because of the danger posed by the predators and carnivorous wild animals that are always on the lookout for hunting the small rodents. If, by luck, the gerbils succeed in escaping from the grasp of the predatory animals, they can survive for a period of 2 to 3 years.

Since the gerbils are hardy creatures and can quickly adapt to a variety of extreme or hostile circumstances, they are unlikely to die before the estimated lifespan unless a predator comes into the picture and creates havoc. 

Aging and the average lifespan of gerbils

Gerbils

If you wonder what the average lifespan of gerbils is, it is about 2 to 4 years, but if appropriately conditioned, they may continue to live for about 5 to 8 years. Their life expectancy is dependent upon the following lifespan factors. 

Lifespan Factors:

Breed Of The Gerbils 

A gerbil of a particular breed may have a completely different life expectancy from that of a fellow gerbil of some other breed.

Do you know that there are about 110 distinct breeds of gerbils? Each of them has different behavioral characteristics, habits, and life spans. So, while assessing the life span of a particular gerbil, it is essential to consider the breed to which it belongs. 

Type Of Environment 

The environment and the surroundings in which a gerbil is living influence its life span. If the aura around them is toxic and stressful, their life expectancy will drastically reduce.

Contrarily, if they dwell in a healthy environment, they are going to live for a considerably long period. 

Exercise 

Yes, exercise is a must for a gerbil to stay healthy! It is clearly understood why a pet gerbil has a longer life span than that of a wild gerbil. It is your responsibility to make your cute gerbil perform apt exercises so that they can stay healthy and insulated from any diseases. 

Nutrition 

If a gerbil receives proper nutrition, that is, the required amount of foods along with ideal water intake, it will have a long life span.

The reverse will be the case for the wild gerbils because they won’t be receiving much nutrition as food scarcity always remains an alarming issue in the forests. 

Genes

The genes of a gerbil influence its life span in the sense that it acquires certain deadly diseases genetically. So, you should keep a proper check on the health condition of your rodent and consult a veterinarian, even if you notice minor changes in its behavior. 

Gerbil Life Cycle

While discussing how long do gerbils live, it becomes imperative to have a quick look at the life cycle of a gerbil.

  • After the mother gerbil gives birth to the pups, they take about 14 to 18 days to open their eyes.
  • After the passage of two days of the opening of its eyes, the gerbil’s ears start unfolding.
  • Gerbils stop suckling their mother’s milk after the passage of 28 days of their birth.
  • These rodents reach their adulthood phase after the weaning process stops and may even start living separately by digging distinct burrows away from their parents’ burrows.
  • After the passage of 3 months of their reaching adulthood, the gerbils become fit to breed.
  • After the gerbils cross 2 to 3 years of age, most of them start showing symptoms of aging.
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Gerbil Lifespan in the Wild

Just as we had mentioned in the above section, a wild gerbil that originally hails from Mongolia can comfortably survive for about 2 to 3 years.

Gerbil in the wild

Unfortunately, such a thing becomes impossible because this little creature is subjected to several significant challenges in the wild.

These include lack of food, water, enhanced vulnerability to diseases, and attack of the ferocious carnivorous animals. What is worse is that the wild gerbils may even barely survive for 3 to 5 months because of the impending danger of death lingering in the forests. 

Gerbil Lifespan in Captivity

When gerbils are kept in captivity as pets, they usually live for about 3 to 5 years, and this may get extended to 8 years if proper care of their health is taken.

A pet gerbil

Since they get proper foods and nutrition and stay insulated from the predator’s attacks, the secured environment adds to their life expectancy.

The gerbil longevity is enhanced because the owner takes care of the cute rodent and checks its health condition to ensure that it is not afflicted with any disease.

Wild gerbils are deprived of this care and nurturing that the captive gerbils enjoy, thus accounting for the former’s long life span and the latter’s shorter life span. 

How Long do Fat-Tailed Gerbils Live?

Cute fat tailed Gerbil standing side ways inbetween wood snipers. Looking for food. Isolated on a white background.

Unless they are suffering from any genetic disease, a pet fat-tailed gerbil (Pachyuromys duprasi) can live up to about 5 to 8 years.

Though this is not the gerbil’s average span, only a healthy fat-tailed gerbil can live for such a long period. As it can be ideated, the average lifespan of a fat-tailed gerbil is 2 to 4 years.

Increasing Your Gerbil’s Lifespan

Being a pet owner, it is usual for you to get concerned about your baby’s gerbil’s health. Now that you have got an inkling of your cute rodent’s life span, you may feel the urge or get a natural desire to enhance its long life expectancy.

You may wonder if such a thing is possible. But, do you know that you may contribute towards increasing the longevity of your dear gerbil? Let’s have a look at these tips. By following them, you can extend the life span of your rodent. 

  • Try to keep your gerbils either in pairs or clans instead of desolating them in captivity. 
  • At the time of breeding, always seek the help of a trustworthy and reputable breeder to safeguard the health and well-being of your gerbil. 
  • Train the gerbils from a young age and make them do specific exercises that would provide them with significant health benefits, increasing their life expectancy.
  • Before introducing a new gerbil to the cage, keep it isolated for the initial days till you are sure enough that it has not brought any kind of contagious illness with it. 
  • Make sure that proper hygiene in the living conditions of the gerbils is maintained. Clean their cage and bedding at regular intervals to ensure a safe atmosphere for the rodents. 
  • Feed your gerbil healthy and nutritious food that would enhance its health. If you are doubtful of feeding any specific food to the rodent, consult a vet to get the right advice regarding any food. Never overfeed your gerbil. Make sure that you are feeding it the amount of food that is suitable for its age. 
  • Avoid feeding your gerbils with any food that is high in sugar.
  • Make sure that you are providing your gerbils with some cool toys and stuff for them to play with so that they don’t sink into stress and feel bored by staying all day in the cage.
  • Once your gerbils have grown about two year old, make it a point to check their weight periodically to see if it has grown obese. 

Do note that the above-mentioned tips won’t guarantee that your gerbil’s life span will be increased. However, following these habits will facilitate their health and increase their chances of longevity.

How To Tell If Your Gerbil Is Getting Old?

Every living organism on this planet exhibits certain signs that mark the beginning of the aging process, and gerbils are no exceptions in this case.

An old gerbil

It is crucial for you to note that some gerbils may show the signs of aging only after crossing two years of their lives, while others may not exhibit any aging signs even after reaching five years of their age.

It is all about how much care and nourishment they receive, and this, in turn, will determine their life expectancy. Well, let’s now have a look at the signs that echo the beginning of old age in a gerbil. 

Sharp Loss In The Muscle Mass 

Muscle mass, as the term suggests, refers to the total mass of the muscles in a gerbil. When young, a gerbil has a low muscle mass which then goes on to increase as they start maturing.

This gain in muscle mass will stop altogether once they reach old age. This loss in muscle mass denotes that your gerbil is aging and getting old. 

At the same time, the fat reserves in the body of the gerbil will also be used up. This is because they won’t have much appetite then, and therefore their bodies will attempt at using the already available fats stored in the body to extract energy.

If you weigh your gerbil on a proper weight machine, you will get an accurate record of its weight and realize the degree of the loss of its muscle mass. 

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Alopecia 

Alopecia is a common hair loss disease in humans, too, by which the victim of this ailment suffers from baldness. But, there is a subtle difference between the alopecia that humans suffer and that the gerbil’s witness.

Don’t worry, your gerbil won’t go completely bald just as humans do. But, the loss of hair in gerbils may stem from various reasons, and such a change in their physical appearance is an important indication that they are growing old.

If your gerbil has the habit of rubbing its furry body on the sides of the cages, it may lose quite a lot of body hair.

Moreover, if its body doesn’t get proper vitamins, alopecia may occur. This disease of body hair loss may also occur when your cute rodent starts getting old. If you notice that it is losing substantial hair from its body, try to accept the fact that your little pet is now growing old. 

Affliction Of Diseases 

Older gerbils tend to get afflicted with diseases frequently than the younger ones. If you notice that your tiny, great gerbil is falling sick quite often, know that it has stepped into old age. With the increase in age, gerbils’ immune system grows weak.

As a result, they quickly fall victim to the diseases of Tyzzer’s disease and respiratory infections. Heart failure is also a common mishap that occurs with older gerbils. 

Do note that all these signs are not exclusive to an old gerbil but may occur in any young gerbil, too. However, the old gerbils tend to get afflicted with these conditions more, at a regular rate. 

​​​Why Do Some Gerbils Live ​So Long?​​​​

Only those gerbils nurtured as pets live for an extended period, say, 3 to 5 years. The reason is that, while staying captive in homes, these rodents receive adequate nutrition and water that ensure their growth and maintenance of health.

Providing them with nutritious food helps in boosting their immune system, thereby shielding them from potential diseases and health hazards.

Since the wild gerbils cannot get access to proper food and always run the risk of being gobbled up by predators in the forests, they hardly live for a year. That is why pet gerbils live for so long while wild gerbils do not. 

​​​How To Buy A Healthy Gerbil​​​​​​​?

Every pet lover’s dream is to nurture a healthy pet with love and affection. After all, no one would like to lose their dear pets way too quickly. Therefore, it is essential that you bring home an utterly healthy gerbil that doesn’t have any disease- genetic or communicable.

Healthy gerbil

No matter if you are adopting a gerbil from a rescue shelter or a pet store, you need to stay alert and give a proper check on the health of the gerbil from making it a member of your family. 

Always remember that gerbils average lifespan will be increased if it stays healthy from the beginning. To help you choose a completely fit gerbil, we have prepared a comprehensive list of the signs that indicate a disease-free, healthy gerbil. Let’s see what these signs are!

  1. If the gerbil is isolated from the other fellow gerbils in the cage, know that there is something wrong with it. 
  2. If it is sneezing and has a runny nose, it is better not to bring it home. 
  3. If you notice any wound on the body of the gerbil or signs of dried or clotted blood on the fur, never go for it. 
  4. Never finalize any gerbil as a pet if it shows any symptoms of diarrhea. 
  5. If you notice any bald spot, lumps beneath the skin, or concave-shaped belly in a gerbil in the store, it is better to not go for it. 
  6. If the gerbil has erratic movements and the problem of limping, don’t go for it. 

How To Look After A Gerbil?

  • Make sure you are not keeping the gerbil as a solitary being but letting it mingle with its fellow gerbils. So, it is recommended that you keep them in pairs or in groups to avoid letting them sink into depression and boredom. 
  • You can purchase some chew toys and other related items for them to keep their dental problems at bay and let them indulge happily in their playtime. 
  • For proper navigation, gerbils need large and spacious cages. The solution to your query “How long do gerbils live” has links to how well it gets to stay in the cage. Make sure it is not too small else, the rodent may feel suffocated. 
  • As a part of the gerbil care guide, it becomes imperative to state the fact that the way you pick up and cradle your gerbil determines the amount of stress inflicted on it. You can pick it up and keep it within your palm by scooping your hands. Else, you may pick it up in your hands by touching its tail’s base. Never put stress on this little creature by forcing it to come into your hands. 
  • Often, the gerbils, suffer from dental ailments, loss of tail, skin diseases, teeth or dental issues, and digestive problems. So, it is recommended that you take your gerbils for periodical vet check-ups and take proper care of their needs.
  • Ensure that the diet provided to it is an ideal one and comes with lots of variations. It has to be a mixed diet consisting of pellets, grasses, insects, roots, etc. 

How Long Does A Russian Dwarf Hamster Live 

Russian dwarf hamster

Russian dwarf hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) may resemble a gerbil, but they belong to a species of hamster and are members member of the genus Phodopus. Hamsters make for beautiful pets!

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This snowball, in the wild, can survive for only one year because of the potential dangers posed by various adverse elements in the dense woods. If kept and nurtured like a pet, it can survive for about 2 to 3 years. 

How Much To Feed A Gerbil? 

It is vital for you to ensure that your gerbil is getting a properly balanced diet because maintaining a diet having all the nutrients in the right proportion is essential.

Gerbil

Just as you take due bedding care, similarly, it is essential that you keep proper care after its diet and food habits. You can introduce a diet having both pellets or seeds along with nuts, grains, insects, roots, and grasses.

Pet owners often find it tricky as to how much to feed a gerbil. Well, now that you are here, there is nothing to worry about for we will make you aware of the exact number of times for which you should feed it. 

You can feed your gerbils 3 to 4 times daily. Since they love to have food multiple times a day, it is better to feed them food in small amounts frequently each day. Make it a point to provide it with fresh water and keep changing it to not grow impure and dirty.

It is very essential for your gerbils to stay hydrated and have continuous access to fresh and pure water. Avoid offering it any fat-rich food to prevent your gerbils from getting obese and overweight. 

How Long Does A Gerbil Live With A Tumor? 

As we all know, a tumor refers to extra cell growth that may occur in any organ or tissue of a living organism. Just like fellow humans, gerbils also acquire tumors. If the tumors are benign or harmless, gerbils won’t suffer from any problem and continue to enjoy good health.

Gerbil on grass

However, if the tumor turns out to be malignant or lethal, it is termed as ‘cancer,’ the deadliest disease on the planet. Your pet rodent may acquire tumors in any part of its body, while ears, legs, and feet are the most common areas. 

Depending upon the nature of the tumors and in which tract of the body the tumors have appeared, a gerbil may survive anywhere from 120 to 350 days.

Most of the time, the reasons behind tumors and cancer lie in genetic disposition. If the tumor can be removed surgically, your gerbil will come out of danger. 

Keep a regular check on the physical outlook of your gerbil and immediately consult your vet in case you find something odd in their physique. The vet may later conduct CT scans, MRIs, blood tests, etc., to diagnose the ailment.

How To Feed A Gerbil?

Providing your gerbils with adequate nutrition is the key to enhancing their life span. As a part of the gerbil care guide, it becomes imperative to shed light on the ways to feed a gerbil. Let’s see what these are!

  • If you wish to keep your gerbil’s bedding and cage clean, use a food dish to let it eat the food without spilling it all over its cage. 
  • Though it may look way too messy, scattering the food all over the bedding or cage periphery of the gerbil will provide it with lots of enjoyment, and it will have its meal with delight. 
  • Purchase a container to store water and hang it at a lower height from one of the sides of the cage. Make sure it has a system for easier sipping to ensure that the gerbils have constant access to water and thus stay hydrated. 
  • Introduce variety to your gerbil’s diet. Providing it with a mixed diet of grains, seeds, pellets, and vegetables is essential to keep it nourished. 
  • You can offer your gerbil vegetables and fruits only in small amounts. 
  • Never feed the gerbil fruits that are toxic to its health. These include avocado, chocolate, grapes, onions, and cabbage. 
  • As a part of your gerbil’s bedding care, offering your pet rodent timothy hay is a good idea as it not only makes for good bedding but is also a rich source of roughage that aids in proper bowel movement. 

Conclusion

Gerbils are one of the most cutest creatures that you can welcome in your home. These adorable rodents are sure to light up your days and bring joy to your life. Now that you have acquired the proper knowledge about the gerbil life span, you will be able to nurture it in a better way. Have a great time nurturing your little gerbil!

FAQs

What type of gerbil is best?

The Mongolian gerbil is the best type of gerbil that you can easily nurture as your pet as it doesn’t have much demand and can live for five years if proper care of its health is taken.

Why do gerbils have a short lifespan?

Gerbils, which primarily stay in the wild, have a short lifespan because they have potential risks from the attacks of the predators, scarcity of foods and water, and vulnerability to get afflicted with diseases.

What type of gerbils live the longest?

Fat-tailed gerbils live the longest, that is, for a period of 5 to 8 years, if kept as pets.

What is the lifespan of a Mongolian gerbil?

The lifespan of a Mongolian gerbil varies from 2 to 3 years. It may decrease if it stays in the wild and may increase if it stays as a pet, in captivity with excellent health.

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Gulshan
Hi, I am Gulshan, a pet blogger, and author. I've been working with the local pet groups for the past five years. I have been fascinated by our pets and am here to share that wonder with you.