Last updated: April 19, 2021
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff

Originally known as the Desert Rat!

Gerbil Scientific Classification

Scientific Name

Gerbil Conservation Status

Gerbil Locations

Gerbil Locations

Gerbil Facts

Main Prey
Seeds, Fruit, Nuts
Dry deserts
Birds, Snakes, Wildcats
Average Litter Size
  • Solitary
Favorite Food
Originally known as the Desert Rat!

Gerbil Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Grey
  • Black
  • White
  • Tan
Skin Type
Top Speed
4 mph
3-5 years
56.6113g (2-4oz)

Gerbil Images

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Gerbils are naturally found in the sandy plains of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The gerbil was originally known as a desert rat until they were commercially introduced to North America and bred as pets.

The gerbil is a small rodent, similar in many ways to by the mouse and the hamster. Gerbils have a long tail like a mouse which the gerbil is able to shed should the tail get trapped. This self defense mechanism allows the gerbil to escape predators, leaving them with just a tail.

Gerbils have sharp claws which the gerbils use to burrow their way into the sandy grounds of the desert. The gerbils are also able to use these underground burrows to get away from danger by quickly disappearing under the sand.

There are thought to be more than 100 different species of gerbil that are found in the wild with the majority of these gerbil species being diurnal. However, many gerbils that are kept as pets live a more nocturnal lifestyle meaning that pet gerbils tend to be awake during night time hours more than day time hours.

Wild gerbils are well known for building extensive networks of tunnels that the gerbils are able to hide and breed in. The gerbil only really comes to the surface of the ground when the gerbil needs to find food and water.

The long and releasable tail of the gerbil is around the same length as the gerbils body, but it appears to depend on the individual gerbil species. The gerbil uses its long tail to help the gerbil balance when the gerbil is standing on its hind legs.

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Gerbil FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Gerbils herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Gerbils are Omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and other animals.

What Kingdom do Gerbils belong to?

Gerbils belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

What class do Gerbils belong to?

Gerbils belong to the class Mammalia.

What phylum to Gerbils belong to?

Gerbils belong to the phylum Chordata.

What family do Gerbils belong to?

Gerbils belong to the family Muridae.

What order do Gerbils belong to?

Gerbils belong to the order Rodentia.

What type of covering do Gerbils have?

Gerbils are covered in Fur.

What genus do Gerbils belong to?

Gerbils belong to the genus Gerbillinae.

In what type of habitat do Gerbils live?

Gerbils live in dry deserts.

What is the main prey for Gerbils?

Gerbils eat seeds, fruit, and nuts.

What are some predators of Gerbils?

Predators of Gerbils include birds, snakes, and wildcats.

How many babies do Gerbils have?

The average number of babies a Gerbil has is 8.

What is an interesting fact about Gerbils?

Gerbils were originally known as the Desert Rat!

What is the scientific name for the Gerbil?

The scientific name for the Gerbil is Gerbillinae.

What is the lifespan of a Gerbil?

Gerbils can live for 3 to 5 years.

How fast is a Gerbil?

A Gerbil can travel at speeds of up to 4 miles per hour.

  1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2011) Animal, The Definitive Visual Guide To The World's Wildlife
  2. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals
  3. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia
  4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species
  5. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals
  6. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals
  7. David W. Macdonald, Oxford University Press (2010) The Encyclopedia Of Mammals

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