buying gerbils

What You Need to Know Before You Buy Gerbils (Buyer’s Guide)

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You’ve decided to take the next step and want to buy a gerbil. Buying a gerbil isn’t just going to a pet store and getting the group’s cutest looking gerbil. It requires you to think about gerbil care and will require you to make several decisions.

When you buy a gerbil you should get at least a pair. The gerbils should be at least 6 weeks old and have no health issues. A same-sex pair is more suitable for new gerbil owners. Gerbils can be bought from pet stores or private breeders. Another interesting option is adopting gerbils from shelters.

If you haven’t already, check out our article about keeping gerbils as a pet and our article about gerbil care. If you’re not sure if a gerbil is a good pet for you, you can also read our extensive article on this topic. Make sure to get your gerbils from a reputable seller with good living conditions. Don’t sponsor sellers that treat their gerbils cruel.

In this article, you’ll learn what you need to consider before buying gerbils and where you can buy gerbils.

What to Know Before You Buy a Gerbil?

Before you buy a gerbil you should know about their needs. Gerbils are pets that are easy to care for but they do need to get the proper care:

  • gerbils need to be kept in pairs or small groups
  • you’ll need to buy a large enough cage (at least 20-gallon)
  • deep layer of substrate (bedding) of at least 20 cm (8 inches) is required
  • provide an exercise wheel of at least 20 cm (8 inches) in diameter
  • feed a nutritional and well-balanced diet
  • chew toys, hides, and other toys should be in the cage

Before you buy gerbils you’ll need to get all these necessary items (gathered in a handy and complete shopping list for gerbils).

Essential Things to Consider When Buying a Gerbil

Buying a gerbil is an important decision. You’re going to take care of a pair of animals and their life is put in your hands. Your gerbils rely on you to get everything they need and to have a happy and long life.

There are a lot of things you need to consider when buying gerbils. More importantly, you need to make choices on the pet’s health, the number of gerbils you’ll get, their age, and gender.

Health indicators

Health is the number one priority when getting a pet. You don’t want to get a pet that has health issues. Depending on the kind of problem, a gerbil might die not long after you bought it. 

Make sure to check the following health indicators when you buy gerbils: 

  • bright and open eyes without crusts
  • feet without sores or open wounds
  • shiny and soft fur
  • no (wounds) on the body
  • no bumps or swellings
  • clean genitals
  • normal gerbil behavior (active, running around, chewing)

Also check the gender of the gerbils when you buy them. It’s possible to determine the gender of a gerbil at four weeks.

One or more gerbils?

Gerbils are social animals and live in small groups in the wild. In specific (particular) cases, you can keep a gerbil alone. However, in general, gerbils should be kept at least in a pair.

If you keep a gerbil as a solitary pet, they will miss the company of other gerbils for daily stuff like playing and sleeping. A lone gerbil can also get stressed and depressed (reducing its lifespan drastically).

As a new gerbil owner, it’s best to start with a pair of gerbils. A larger group of gerbils needs more living space and can require more care and time. Be aware that small groups of gerbils can fight to establish dominance and hierarchy. Declanning is also a possible issue when you have a larger group of gerbils.

Do you get a baby or adult gerbils?

Most people get gerbils that are still young. Young gerbils (under ten weeks) are easier to bond with you and with other gerbils.

Inform with the seller what the age is of the gerbil and what it’s weight is. Gerbils generally are weaned, which means they eat solid food and no longer need mother milk, at three weeks. You should never buy gerbils that young. It’s better to wait until the gerbils are six weeks or older.

If you don’t want a young gerbil or don’t care whether the gerbil is young or old, you can get an older gerbil. You should be aware that gerbils have a short lifespan of two to three years.

Older gerbils might be more difficult to introduce to other gerbils and can be more challenging to bond with you. This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be bought or adopted.

Do you get male or female gerbils?

Since you should get at least a pair of gerbils, you’ll have the choice between a same-sex pair or a male-female pair.

If you’re new to gerbils and don’t have any plans on breeding gerbils, get a same-sex pair. Males tend to be more friendly or laid back but a female-only pair is also perfect. A male-female pair will soon lead to (unwanted) gerbil babies, which can cause a lot more care.

Where to Buy Gerbils?

Gerbils are among the more popular pocket pets. You won’t have any problems finding a breeder or seller in your regions if you live in the United States, Canada, or Europe. 

If you’re looking to buy gerbils, you can buy them in one of the following places:

  • pet stores
  • private breeders
  • rescues

General considerations when buying gerbils

You should know that not all breeders are good people and some will put profit over the health of the gerbils. If you buy gerbils it’s best to check for online review or more information on the breeder or store.

Always ask the seller for enough information about the gerbils you want to buy. You should at least know the age, the gender, and the diet they’re fed. A well-informed seller will also give you information on how to care for gerbils.

Last but not least, it’s essential to look for signs that the gerbils are healthy and that they don’t suffer from injuries or health issues.

Pet stores

Pet stores or pet shops sell a lot of different animals (including gerbils). If you want to buy gerbils you should visit a pet store and see the living conditions for yourself.

Gerbils in pet stores are often young. If they’re kept in unsuitable living conditions for a long time, they can develop stereotypical behavior (like scratching the glass).

Some important things to look for is that they’re kept in a large enough cage (preferably a gerbilarium), have a deep layer of bedding, and enough toys and accessories to keep them busy.

Gerbils should be active and healthy. They may be sleeping when you visit the pet shop as gerbils are crepuscular. Watch for signs of fighting and look at how the gerbils interact with each other. Do they sleep together, do they play together, can they dig in the bedding, etc.?

One of the major drawbacks of buying gerbils in a pet store is that you won’t see the gerbils’ parents and that you can’t talk to the breeder. You also might encounter stores that don’t have the necessary knowledge about gerbils (which you can test by asking enough questions).

Private breeders

Private breeders are usually the best way to buy gerbils. You can find breeders by scanning the classifieds in your local newspaper, check out the “for sale” ads on buy-and-sell sites, check out forums, or join groups on Facebook to find gerbil breeders in your area.

A private breeder is an excellent choice if you’re new to gerbil care and don’t know a lot about gerbils. You can arrange a visit and speak with the breeder. If you’ve got questions, the breeder should be able to answer them correctly.

Animal rescues (shelters)

Gerbils breed fast and have large litters. They also have a cute look and are often an impulse buy. This results in that gerbils sometimes end in animal rescues and shelters.

If you want to buy gerbils, I recommend checking the animal rescues and shelters in your vicinity (a good starting point is: Adopt a Pet). You might have to fill in a form with all kinds of questions.

These questions determine if you’re able to take care of gerbils. The last thing a rescue wants is to let a gerbil get adopted and take them back after a while.

Want to Learn More?

If you want to learn more about gerbils (or other pocket pets), please read the following interesting articles:

If you’re interested in getting gerbils as pets you should also definitely read our beginner’s guide to keeping gerbils as pets and our gerbil care guide.


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