All About Companion Animals

Hamsters and Gerbils

Hamsters and Gerbils

People often think that gerbils and hamsters are easy animals to take of—but, like cats,  dogs, and other companion animals, they need lots of love, care, and attention. Most people also don’t know that gerbils and hamsters are very different from each other—take a look!


In their natural habitats, hamsters like to be alone and are nocturnal, which means that they sleep during the day and stay awake all night. Sounds fun, huh? Making friends with humans can be difficult since they don’t like to be awake during the day.

A hamster should eat many different types of fruits, green vegetables, and seeds. Their teeth never stop growing, so it’s very important that they have hard things like dog biscuits and clean tree branches to chew on. Hamsters can live to be between 2 and 4 years old.

A 2-foot-square wire-mesh cage with a solid base is the smallest size for a home for one hamster. Those colorful plastic cages may look nice, but they are difficult to clean, and hamsters may chew their way out!

You’ll need a water bottle, chew toys, soft bedding such as straw or shredded white paper, and an exercise wheel. Wooden ladders and toilet paper rolls also make great toys!



Unlike hamsters, gerbils don’t like to be alone and live in families of up to 20 members in the wild. If kept alone, a gerbil will become depressed. If you have the time, money, and space to adopt gerbils, two males or two females from the same family will make friends with each other.

Attractive Young Female Rodent

Gerbils require the same food and shelter as hamsters do, but be sure to provide gerbils with a solid exercise wheel since their long tails can get caught in wire wheels! Neither hamsters nor gerbils should be allowed to become too cold or they will go into hibernation. Gerbils can live for about five years.

FACT: Hamsters and gerbils are really cute! But like all animals, they require proper shelter, food, temperature, and exercise. They can also bite and carry diseases and do NOT make good “starter pets” for young children.

Want to help hamsters and gerbils? Good news! You can, as long as you and your family have the time, space, and financial means to provide a furry animal companion or two with a loving forever home. Also remember always to adopt gerbils, hamsters, or any other animals and never buy from them pet stores or breeders.

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