There are about 80 species of gerbil in the wild. They are found stretching from China and Mongolia through Asia and into Africa. Gerbils are nocturnal creatures; this means that they are active during the night but sleep during the day. Their name comes from the generic name for these animals, gerbillus.
The essentials of a good home are that it is spacious, escape-proof, easy to clean and loaded with useful items for a gerbil. Gerbils love to chew and dig so make sure you give them things to chew and plenty of sawdust or woodflakes. Gerbils like to make a nest to sleep in so make sure you give them plenty of bedding to do this with.
Gerbils can be sexed1 at the age of about four weeks. The male is able to breed for most of its life whereas the female stops breeding at the age of about two years. By this time her last litter are likely to be smaller in number.
If a male and two females have been reared together from an early age, no introductory procedures are needed. The problem here is that the females will probably become pregnant as soon as they can. It is better that breeding operations are delayed by keeping the sexes apart until they are at least 12 - 15 weeks old.
Gerbils are born blind and quite helpless. They do grow quickly however, and their eyes open at about eight days and are fully open by day ten. Their fur grows almost immediately and within about seven days they should have a thin layer of hair.
Gerbils are not hard to feed. You can get good quality dried food from most pet shops. However, to live into a ripe old age they do need fresh fruit and vegetables. These range from the outer leaves of cabbages to dried raisins, from spinach to carrots and from dandelions to apples.