How Long Do Gerbils Live And Why?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 4th, 2022

The exact answer is 2 to 6 years.

There are millions of creatures on the earth, some of which are enormous, some of which are little, and some of which are even minute.

Three gerbils sitting in hands and looking at the camera.

There are birds, domestic and wild animals, carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores. Living organisms are categorized into numerous groups depending on their environment, what they consume when hibernating, and a variety of other criteria.

The gerbil is a relatively small mammal that resembles a rat. Gerbils are members of one of the rodent subfamilies.

What exactly are gerbils?

Gerbils have become one of the most popular family pets worldwide owing to their quiet, non-demanding temperament and easygoing lifestyle. They, like hamsters, are small, affordable, and non-intrusive to have about the house, making them the ideal friend for folks who want someone to be there when they arrive home.

They are burrowing rodents from Africa and Asia, where they got their name. While there are various gerbil breeds around the globe, most pet gerbils are from the Mongolian gerbil subspecies.

Even if, as previously said, more and more people are beginning to love them as home companions, there is an argument since they are not always suitable for small children. Gerbils require a lot of care since they are quickly hurt if dropped or squished, and they are also particularly prone to biting or scratching if they are scared.

They are little rodents with long, hairy tails and a recognizable tuft of fur at the end. However, you should never pick up a gerbil by its tail if you care about it at all.

Because each hair is streaked with gray, yellow, or black, with off-white hair on the gerbil’s belly, their unique color is known as ‘agouti’ color.

However, like with any species, expert breeders attempt to engage in selective breeding to acquire certain hues. As a result, gerbils come in various hues, including white, black, and gold. Unlike their mouse or hamster counterparts, Gerbils show a penchant for sitting up on their hind legs.

Life Cycle of a Gerbil

Gerbils like reproducing. They reproduce up to three times a year in the wild, between February and October. They may reproduce all year in captivity, including the day after giving birth to a litter! You must keep males and females apart if you do not intend to breed your gerbils.

Gerbil’s pregnancy lasts around three weeks (give or take a few days!). Gerbil newborns are entirely helpless, hairless, and have closed eyelids. A normal litter has 4-7 babies.

They open their eyes between 16 and 20 days of age and are weaned (able to function without Mom’s milk) by 30 days.

Gerbils that have been weaned and are growing require 5-10g of reasonably high protein food each day and a steady supply of fresh water. Use a complete gerbil meal geared primarily towards younger animals for the greatest potential health and weight increase.

Adult gerbils thrive on a wide variety of complete feeds.

Gerbils reach sexual maturity at three months of age. They will be able to breed until they are around 20 months old, at which point they will be too old to breed safely.

Gerbils live for how long?

  • A gerbil’s lifetime ranges from 2 to 6 years.
  • 2 to 3 years in the wild
  • 3 to 4 years as a pet

Gerbils’ longevity is determined by where they reside, how well they are cared for, what they eat, how well they defend themselves, their genetic features, how well they interact socially, and many other factors. According to recent investigations, Mongolian gerbils live longer than many other species because they are commonly kept as pets.

The lifespan of a Gerbil in the Wild

Wild Mongolian gerbils have a lower life expectancy than captive gerbils. A wild gerbil may survive for 2 to 3 years on average. However, the majority of them perish during the first year.

According to Animal Diversity Web, the typical wild lifetime is between 3 and 4 months. This is due to the difficulties they face in the wild, such as predators, a shortage of food or water, and infections.

Gerbil Captive Lifespan

A few research have been undertaken to determine the Mongolian gerbil’s lifetime. A 1969 research found that male gerbils had a mean lifespan of 110 weeks while female gerbils had a lifespan of 139 weeks. The oldest male gerbil in the research was 208 weeks old, while the oldest female gerbil was 209 weeks old. Life expectancy in 1990 was 2 years, according to longevity data.

As a result, a confined or pet gerbil has a far longer lifetime than a wild gerbil. Mongolian gerbils nowadays often live between 2 and 5 years, with an average of 3 years. Although a pet gerbil will not be exposed to predators or harsh weather, they may become ill or be assaulted by other pets.

However, the biggest concerns in captivity that may result in a limited lifetime are insufficient care and poor nutrition. In a moment, I’ll go through both of these.

Gerbils are most typically found in India, Africa, and Asia. Gerbils are members of the Muridae family, the Animalia kingdom, the Chordata phylum, the class and order of Mammalia and Rodentia, and the Gerbillinae subfamily. Gerbils are even sometimes kept as pets.

Many nations, for example, have accepted the Mongolian gerbil, also known as the clawed jird, as a pet. Gerbils are found in about 110 different species across the world.

Gerbils are omnivorous creatures that are busy during the day and sleep briefly at night.

Gerbils are often 6 to 12 inches long, with a tail like any other rodent. Gerbils may grow to be up to 16 inches long. An adult gerbil typically weighs between 60 and 70 grams.

Various variables, including physical and genetic characteristics, determine a gerbil’s lifetime. Gerbils live for around 2 to 4 years on average, and if adequately cared for, they can survive for 5 to 6 years.

How to Increase the Lifespan of Your Gerbil


Everyone wants to keep their favorite pet alive and well for as long as possible. So, how would you go about expanding your gerbil’s lifespan? While there is no sure-fire technique to ensure that your gerbil lives for 8-10 years, you can do a few things to offer them the greatest opportunity.

First and foremost, if you haven’t already, get your gerbil from a respectable breeder with a healthy and well-documented line. By obtaining a gerbil from a family with a clean past, you dramatically reduce the likelihood of your gerbil developing a sickness or illness that might shorten their life.

Following that, once you have a healthy gerbil, you must ensure that they are properly cared for – mostly through their nutrition! Feed your gerbil a nutritious meal that covers all their nutritional needs so they may develop and stay healthy. This is accomplished by using a solid pellet diet, a high-quality seed mixture, and a variety of vegetables such as celery, broccoli, and cucumbers.

The habitat of a gerbil is also very significant! You’d be amazed how a clean and comfortable living environment would improve your gerbil’s health. Make a large, pleasant, and safe cage for them.

Keep this cage at a location in your home that isn’t completely secluded but is isolated from most of the excitement of daily living. Giving your gerbil a friend or two is also a terrific method to boost their happiness and reduce stress levels.


Gerbils are friendly creatures that require interaction with other members of their species. They grow anxious when maintained in solitude, which shortens their lifetime. Epilepsy is a frequent health concern that affects more than 90% of gerbils. Seizures can lead to death.

Because epilepsy is inherited, medical breeders screen gerbils for it before categorizing them. Make sure the gerbils have adequate contact, clean their cages regularly, monitor their weight and teeth after 2 years, and handle them appropriately, among other things, to lengthen their lives.


Editorial Staff

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