Gerbils are sociable animals, living in packs when in the wild. Therefore, it is unfair to only keep one gerbil as a pet. Anyone with pet gerbils should have at least two, so they can keep each other company.
If possible, a small group is even better. This way, if one was unfortunately to pass, you would still have at least two left.
But unless you have a large area to keep them in, and can keep an eye on them all throughout the day, we would say that a maximum of 4 gerbils is best. Large groups can become unstable very quickly, and aggression can break out.
Can I keep male and female gerbils?
We would recommend keeping one sex of gerbil. A gerbil can breed from three months old and females can produce a litter of four to ten babies every 24 days. This would quickly get out of control.
While people do breed gerbils, they would soon have to be separated after this event to avoid being overcome with new litters. Therefore, for ordinary gerbil keepers, two or more of the same sex is best.
Problems are more common in groups of females, so if you want as few worries as possible and are a first-time gerbil keeper, males could be best.
How do I introduce gerbils to each other?
Now you know you need to keep two or more gerbils, you need to understand how you would introduce them to one another.
Your best bet is to buy two same-sex gerbils who are from the same litter, or have been previously introduced and live together in a harmonious group. If this isn’t possible, gerbils aged around 8 weeks are the ideal time for introductions to take place.
Gerbils over the age of 10-16 weeks can be aggressive towards newcomers. They are very territorial animals. This is why many people feel it is best to have at least three gerbils, so if one dies, you still have a group.
If you must introduce a new gerbil to an existing tank, split the tank with a wireframe. This way, they can see and smell each other but can’t come into physical contact. This should keep injuries at bay. After a few days, swap the side of the tank they are in, so they get used to the scent.
This process should be complete after around 4 days, but we would recommend spending a week making this slow introduction. Once you notice there is no odd behaviour from either gerbil, they should be fine to mix.
Keep a very close eye on them in the first few days, though. Immediately separate if they show any aggression, and also watch out for things like one gerbil losing weight or appearing to be injured as a sign of aggression which you don’t spot.
Females are usually the more aggressive sex, too. It is often easier to introduce a young gerbil to a male.