How Many Gerbils Should Live Together
Two gerbils have more fun together than one gerbil and don't require any more work.
One of the most common questions the first-time gerbil owner has is,
How many gerbils should I get?
We firmly believe that the best way to keep gerbils is in pairs. Gerbils are social animals and benefit greatly from the company of another gerbil. They keep each other entertained, they groom each other, they curl up and sleep together, and when something frightens one, the other is there to reassure them.
Of course, if you adopt more than one gerbil, you will either need to adopt both from the same litter at the same time, or you will have to introduce a pair of gerbils using the split-cage method.
Although two gerbils are better than one, it's not true that the more gerbils you have the better. In fact, the more gerbils you that live together, the greater the odds that the group will eventually
declan, which is a fancy way of saying that they will fight and no longer live together.
It's best that a gerbil doesn't live alone if possible, and the best way to ensure that gerbils live together peacefully is to adopt them from the same litter at the same time (or perform a split-cage introduction) and to keep them in appropriate, safe groupings. Read on to learn about which groups of gerbils work best, as well as what you need to know about the differences between male and female gerbils' temparements.
Appropriate Gerbil Groupings
There are some groups of gerbils that work better than others. Gerbils are different from most rodents, in that it is the females, not the males, who are more territorial. For this reason, you don't have as much freedom in the number of females that you keep together.
|2 males||Very Safe|
|3 or more males||Relatively Safe|
|2 females||Very Safe|
|3 or more females||Risky -- not recommended|
|1 male & 1 female||Safe -- but expect LOTS of pups|
|1 male & more than 1 female||Very risky|
|1 female & more than 1 male||Very risky|
|More than one adult female & a litter of pups||Very risky|
The chart to the left summarizes which groups of gerbils are risky and which are safe. A pair of females almost always remain bonded very well, but if you keep three or more females together, eventually, they will likely have trouble establishing who is in charge. To reduce the likelihood that your gerbils will fight, we recommend that you should keep no more than two females together.
You can adopt more than two males from the same litter to live together, but if you want the safest number possible, you'll want a pair.
If you don't get your gerbils from the same litter and need to use the split-cage method, remember that you should never try to introduce a new gerbil to an already-established group of adults. You can introduce one gerbil to one gerbil. Or you can introduce one adult male to a pair of young (just weaned) pups. But never try to introduce more than one adult gerbil to any newcomers. A group of adults is already bonded and won't accept new gerbils.
If this is your first time adopting gerbils, we'd suggest that you adopt a same-sex pair of gerbils. Two gerbils don't really require any more work than just one gerbil. (You still have the same number of tanks to clean, and you'll be able to play with both gerbils at the same time.) And most pairs of gerbils enjoy each others' company and live peacefully and happily together.