Can Gerbils eat Cabbage?
The answer is yes, in fact Gerbils can eat any raw vegetable, but more of that later.
Gerbils Make Good Pets.
Gerbils make very good pets for older children, they are not recommended for children under the age of 6 years as they can be hurt by dropping or squeezing. They also will bite when frightened and this would not be a good experience for a small child.
What Is A Gerbil?
A Gerbil looks a bit like a rat, and is in fact a burrowing rodent from Africa/ Asia. They come in various shades and colour due to selective breeding.
Their life span is from 3-6 years, and if you are going to breed them they can have about 9 litters a year as the gestation period is less than 4 weeks.
A Mongolian Gerbil is the most common Gerbil pet breed and they are not nocturnal, these curious little animals are very active and need a lot of sleep. In the wild they live in colonies, so they like company. Better to get two of the same sex or you will end up with 100s if you buy a breeding pair.
It will be basically too hard to find homes for them all, so don’t put yourself through it, buy 2 males or 2 females and they will play happily together and will entertain the children for hours with their antics.
What Sort Of A Cage Do Gerbils Need?
Assuming that you have two Gerbils they will quite a big cage, with enough length for the tail.
A glass aquarium is better as they can look out and the children can watch them through the glass, wire over the top to allow air flow and to stop them from escaping. The pet shop should have some recommendations. They will need quite a lot of bedding in their cage, I recommend shredded paper which you can bring home from the office, as in the wild the Gerbil would be burrowing and will burrow into the shredded paper. You can also use hay , if you live in the country this will be easy to get.
Another reason to have an aquarium and not a wire cage as that the burrowing makes a mess and if you have a wire cage it will not be contained. The paper in the nest should be cleaned out every 2-3 days, so that your Gerbils will live in clean hygienic surroundings. When your children are at home they will want to play with the gerbils and can take them out of the aquarium for a while or just sit back and watch the playing. Put a wheel in the cage, like a Hamster wheel and see what they do with it. When you first bring them home let them adjust to their new space, and don’t let them near the cat unsupervised. Gerbils tails are very important to their balance and if the tail becomes damaged it adversely effects their health and could kill them.
Never pick them up by the tail, pick them up by the scruff of the neck like a kitten. So it is important when playing with them to watch out for the tail. When your Gerbil is in his aquarium he will require a nest box. This is like a bed for Gerbils and he will sleep in there and feel safe. He will require a nice little wooden box for this purpose and will probably chew on it as well, fill it with the shredded paper for burrowing, and when he chews the box away, buy a new one. They also like to climb, and will not require any expensive equipment, all that is needed is a bit of old tree branch with any sharp pieces removed to keep them safe, this will also be another thing for your Gerbil to chew on.
Feeding Your Gerbil
Gerbils need seed mixtures which can be bought or mixed by you at home, and they need 12%-15% protein content in this mix. They can also have chopped fresh vegetables, and yes they can have cabbage shredded up like the cabbage for Coleslaw so it is easier for them to ingest and chew up with their sharp little teeth. They also respond well to treats, and if the children are trying to teach them tricks they can be rewarded with rice crisps or rice puffs and seem to really like these. Hang a water bottle with a metal spout in the aquarium and they will require a heavy stainless steel bowl or food dish that they can’t knock over.
Vet Care Or Medical Attention
Gerbils are usually very healthy, but you will need to find a vet who will be qualified to treat your Gerbil should the need arise. Like other burrowing animals they are prone to ‘heat stress’ and this can lead to death. The room that their aquarium is in should be air conditioned so they are kept at an ambient temperature. Like other furry animals they can attract fleas and mites, ask the vet regarding the best course of treatment.
The Gerbil is quite territorial and this makes it hard to introduce a new one later on as your Gerbil may attack it in order to protect his territory. That is why it is best to get two from the same litter initially and don’t introduce a new one later on.
Gerbils will make lovely low cost, low maintenance pets for older children. It will teach them to be gentle, and responsible, and they can quickly learn to clean out the aquarium and feed their pet appropriate foods. The only downside I can see is that the Gerbil only has a short life span and will probably have to be replaced. They seem hugely energetic and will require exercising outside their aquarium for a short time every day under strict supervision. This will be a great activity for the children who will be able to invent lots of games and activities to keep their pets entertained.