How Long Do Gerbils Live?

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We’d love our pets to live forever if they could, but how long do gerbils live exactly? Gerbils have short lives and rarely make it to five years old. However, the conditions they live in can have a big effect on helping gerbils reach the upper end of the spectrum. Today’s article will discuss the details of gerbils’ lifespan and the steps to maximize their lifespan.

Gerbil Lifespan
What Impacts a Gerbil’s Lifespan?
Tips for Enhancing Gerbils Well-being
To Sum Up

With their endearing pebble-like eyes, distinctive pointy snouts, and long naked tails, gerbils possess a unique charm that sets them apart from hamsters, captivating many admirers. There exist more than a hundred diverse species of these rodents, yet the most prevalent breed chosen as pets is the Mongolian gerbil, easily seen in various pet shops and popular among home breeders.

It’s worth noting that the scientific name for the Mongolian gerbil translates to the ‘small-clawed warrior.’ History informs us that gerbils were once referred to as ‘desert rats’ before finding a cozy spot in North America and Europe as beloved domesticated pets. Today, we will delve deeper into the question of ‘How long do gerbils live?’.

Gerbil Lifespan

While gerbils, like many other creatures, experience distinct life stages, they do stand out for their comparatively shorter life expectancy. In the wild, the average adult gerbil typically thrives for 2-3 years, whereas their domestic counterparts can enjoy a slightly extended lifespan of 3-4 years, with some lucky gerbils even surpassing this estimate. However, due to the complexity of various factors influencing gerbils’ lifespans, precise predictions are difficult to make.

Nevertheless, research insights and anecdotes from gerbil enthusiasts and wildlife experts provide valuable insights for keeping gerbils healthy and long-lasting. For instance, gerbil offspring, adorably called ‘pups,’ heavily rely on their mothers’ nurturing and milk. Sadly, some pups don’t survive to adulthood, facing challenges like insufficient care or getting lost in large litters, resulting in neglect or malnutrition.

What Impacts a Gerbil’s Lifespan?

Gerbils are remarkably adapted to desert environments in Africa, India, and Asia. They adapt differently depending on whether they dwell in the wild or enjoy the comforts of domesticated life. In the wild, they are diurnal creatures, active during the day while being vigilant against an array of predators, including those from land and sky, while searching for sustenance such as grass, plant seeds, and insects. Their primary survival instinct revolves around swift fleeing and retreating into their well-dug burrows, employing their powerful rear legs.

A fascinating communication method they use is their thumping behavior. This warns their community of potential threats. Apart from predators, wild gerbils encounter challenges like food and water scarcity and infections, which sadly affects the young pups as well, leading to untimely deaths.

Pet gerbils can face unique health concerns. This is particularly true for the popular Mongolian gerbil.

  • Dental Troubles: Overgrown teeth can lead to discomfort and eating difficulties. This is best addressed by providing your pet with gnawing blocks.
  • Digestive Issues: Bacteria or internal parasites often cause digestive disorders. This sometimes shows up as diarrhea or malnutrition if their diet is not tailored to their needs.
  • Skin Issues: Parasite infestations are a common concern among pet rodents, potentially causing skin irritation, hair loss, tail problems, and rough hair coats.
  • Epilepsy: Gerbils may experience occasional seizures, often triggered by stress or changes in their environment.

As dedicated pet owners, we can take preventive measures to protect our furry friends from these challenges.

Tips for Enhancing Gerbils Well-being

While precise lifespans remain uncertain due to individual differences, there are practical steps we can take to enhance the longevity of our gerbil companions. Understanding their physical and emotional needs is paramount! Notably, gerbils thrive in social settings, especially the gregarious Mongolian gerbils. Considering group companionship is essential.


As far as group companionship goes, it doesn’t get much cozier than this!

Moreover, providing ample space, toys, and accessories will ensure mental and physical stimulation. This promotes their well-being. Spending quality time with your pet gerbil also contributes significantly to their happiness.

To Sum Up

Gerbils continue to captivate us with their unique traits and fascinating behaviors. By nurturing them with love and attending to their specific needs, we can create a nurturing environment that enhances their lives and fosters a lasting bond. They may only live a few years in the wild, and likely less than five even with the best of care. But by caring for your gerbil you give them the gift of a happy life and the most time possible.

Photo of author


Anne Rosa has always had a strong passion for animals. She has raised many small pets from a young age. Her most recent companion is Jingles the rabbit. Anne Rosa believes animals of all sizes and species can be trained with a bit of patience, willingness, consistency and a positive attitude. She has taught Jingles many tricks and those who know her aren’t wholly convinced she’s really a bunny and not a puppy!