Gerbils are fuzzy little rodents that are undeniably fantastic and cute pet choices. They’re suitable for kids of all ages but more for 10 to 11-year-olds. If you’re thinking about getting a gerbil for your child, here are a few things to keep in mind about gerbils.
Do Gerbils Make Good Pets for Children?
It isn’t difficult to understand why gerbils make such good pets. They’re super cute, entertaining, and relatively docile with amiable personalities. They’re effortless to handle and maintain, not to mention their low maintenance cost.
So, if you’re wondering if gerbils make good pets for children, you’ve come to the right place. In short, yes, they do make great pets for children and first-time pet owners. But do not let children below 5 years handle them. Children of that age love to squish stuff. And squishing a gerbil will not only pose danger to the gerbil but your child as well.
Many factors come into play for considering gerbils suitable for children. Gerbils aren’t scared of human interaction and enjoy them. It will teach your kids how to be responsible and provide primary care. As gerbils are very easy to feed and take care of, they’re considered ideal for children.
Besides, they’re often available in the market at a very inexpensive rate. But I have to mention that as easy taking care of gerbils might be, you can’t simply buy a pet gerbil and leave your child to it.
They can assist in the care of gerbils, but the gerbil must not wholly rely on them for care, especially if they’re very young. Caring for them is very straightforward, but you should be aware of some things before bringing one home.
Benefits of Keeping a Gerbil
Children who are a bit older, especially those who understand the significance of handling their pets gently with care, are ideal pet owners for a gerbil. In return for good care, the children will be rewarded with entertainment and company by the gerbils.
Gerbils are made excellent pets for children for the following reasons mentioned here.
- Social and Friendly
Gerbils are delightful and friendly mammals. They don’t shy away from human interactions. They love to be held and handled gently.
They can be tamed very quickly and take on their owners from the get-go. They’re incredibly fast, so your child will be busy and have a fun time trying to catch them. They also love to mount on their persons.
Gerbils love some company and live better in a family. If your child wants more than one gerbil, then you’ll have no problem with caring for them! More so, it’s advised that they live in families or pairs. Research has shown that they live longer and happier when they’re kept with others.
- Very Active and Entertaining
Being diurnal mammals, they’ll be more active during the day. So, your child can enjoy their presence and activities before bed time. They’re typically quiet during the night, so they’ll sleep when your child sleeps.
As they grow, they’ll love spending time with your child and make great companions. They also have unique personalities, so watching them interact and develop into different characters will provide you with endless entertainment.
Gerbils love to dig. So, if you keep them around soil, they’ll continuously be digging new tunnels, which is also very interesting to watch.
- Inexpensive Upkeep
Gerbils will be happy inside a cage or enclosed spaces. Provided with good bedding, food, and water intake, they won’t bother your child. They do need to be cared for daily, but they’re also easy maintenance.
They need less space, and you don’t need to take them out for walks or have a big yard to play in. You can easily keep them in your child’s bedroom and have them entertain your child regularly.
The annual cost of keeping a gerbil is 100-150 dollars. This budget includes vet bills, cage costs, food expenses, bedding, and chew toys.
- Responsibility Lessons for Your Child
Owning a pet at a young age will accelerate the cognitive growth of your child. It’s always a good idea to get pets as it will encourage responsibility in them. Children will learn social skills, get a boost in self-control, and share a love for animals and life.
Since caring for gerbils is so easy, your child won’t have a difficult time. They usually defecate in the same place making it easy to clean for them. They’re generally clean animals. You’ll only need to change their water every once in a while, as they don’t need it very often.
However, do make sure to stay with them for a while initially when they start to look after their pet gerbil.
- Safe for Children
Gerbils love to groom themselves fanatically, so they remain very clean most times. You’ll have a minimum risk of infections with them around. They rarely bite their owners, and even if they do, it doesn’t hurt.
Their bites are harmless, so you won’t have to rush your child to the emergency room even if you are bitten. They won’t scratch your child or squirm upon being held unless mishandled.
Things You Should Consider before You Get a Gerbil
Gerbils are so easy to handle and care for. But the experience isn’t always so pleasant. So, I’m here to inform you of the cons of getting a gerbil for a child. These factors could be a deal-breaker for you. So, please read carefully.
- Always a Group Show
You have to get a pair of gerbils, at least if you are thinking of getting one. They’re social animals, so they need to remain within a family. As I’ve mentioned before, researchers show they fair better in families.
They shouldn’t ever be kept alone. However, this does make them more fun to watch, especially when they’ve bonded with the other gerbils in the vicinity.
- Quarrelsome Nature
Gerbils are a matriarchal society. You’ll have a difficult time bonding females with females. However, the males are very docile and won’t have a problem bonding with other males.
Fights do occur, and if your gerbils aren’t bonded, they might draw blood and kill each other. But that won’t be an issue if you get one girl and one boy gerbil together.
- Short Lifespan
Getting a gerbil is not a long-term commitment. This could also be a bonus for some as children tend to get bored after playing with pets for a little while.
Gerbils don’t have a long lifespan. They live for two years on average. Some gerbils have lived long eight years, but this shouldn’t be considered normal for a regular gerbil. Losing a pet could be desolating for young children, so keep their age in mind.
Precautions to Take Around Children
It would be best if you kept your gerbil and child safe from each other. As they’re both delicate when young, you need to take a few precautions to keep your gerbil safe as they’re known to be vulnerable
- Supervise your child’s interaction with the gerbils.
- Keep the gerbils in a cage if you’re not around.
- Show your child how to handle a gerbil first before letting them pet the gerbils.
- Explain why it’s essential to be gentle with the gerbils and make them wash their hands before and after touching the gerbils.
- Oversee your child’s caregiving and let them handle the gerbils daily.
- Have their health checked regularly, give them toys, and take them out to exercise.
Your child mustn’t mishandle the gerbils like pulling them by the tail or disturb one that’s sleeping. Although your child is going to be the primary caregiver, you also have to make sure that the gerbil is safe and being fed regularly.
Here is a quick little video explaining how to properly handle gerbils. You can show this to your child before letting them play around with their gerbils.
Gerbils are undeniably suitable and make excellent pets for every home. Their unique personality makes them worth having besides supplying your child with limitless amusement being safe and easy to care for. So, pick your gerbils up from the shelter or pet store today!