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Gerbil - Mongolian Breed Profile

Other Names
Desert Rat, Sand Rat or Clawed Jird 
On average the Mongolian Gerbil can live 2 to 4 years. 
The Mongolian Gerbil can start breeding at between 9 12 weeks of age. At about 14 months the gerbil is usually no longer fertile; however the have been known to breed up to 20 months of age. 
Average Litter Size
Litters can vary from1-10, however on average the Mongolian Gerbil can produce 4 to 5 young. 
Gestation Period
The gestation period is between 23-25 days. It has been known for the gestation period to last 30 days. 
General Physical Description
The Mongolian Gerbils are mouse like in appearance, however the body is more arched and the ears are smaller. The front feet are small and the back legs are long; each foot has long, thin nails, which allows them to burrow. They have developed legs, body and coat colour suitable for the desert life. 
On average the Mongolian Gerbil is about 20cms long (this includes body and tail) and weighs up to 115gms. The males are usually larger than the females. 
A well-balanced dry gerbil mix will contain most of the necessary nutritional requirements that a gerbil needs. They are particularly fond of sunflower seeds but do not overfeed these as they are quite high in fat and may make your gerbil overweight. The diet should be supplemented with fresh vegetables. Gerbils, although mainly vegetarian, can have their diets supplemented with insects, such as crickets and mealworms. In the wild they eat these insects but as pets they are not necessary as long as they are being fed an adequate and nutritious diet. An earthenware bowl is the best type of feeding dish to use, as they are harder to knock over than the plastic ones, also they are not chewable. A water bottle fixed to the outside of the cage, with the water tube going into the cage, ensures a fresh water supply is available. 
As gerbils are great gnawers their housing has to be of a non-chewable material. Gerbils seem to adapt well to solid bottom cages with a wire top. Aquariums can also be used and make the most suitable houses for gerbils; the aquarium must have a suitable lid on it to prevent the gerbil getting out and any predators getting in. The aquarium when filled with an adequate layer of fine sawdust will provide an area for burrowing. Some owners have a cage with food and bedding linked to an aquarium suitable for burrowing. The separate departments can be linked using a tunnel. Care must be taken to ensure that the tunnel is non chewable and securely fitted to avoid escapes. Wood shavings should be used for the floor of the cage. Fine sawdust can cause eye irritations and cedar shavings can cause allergic reactions and irritations to the gerbil due to the oil it contains. Bedding material should be provided and the best thing to use is paper wool or hay. Other bedding that is not suitable is any man made fibres and materials that can, and will, become stuck and cause stomach blockages. The gerbil can also get its limbs stuck in the bedding. The cage should be cleaned out weekly and any old food removed. If it is necessary to wash the cage then only use a cleaner specifically designed for cleaning small rodents cages. An earthenware food bowl and a drinking bottle will also be required to feed and water the gerbil. 
Suitability For Children
The Mongolian Gerbil is the one most gerbil pet owners have. They are suitable for both children and adults.< 
Character & Temperament
Gerbils are happiest when kept in mixed sex pairs. If you try to keep 2 males or 2 females together they will fight unless they have been brought up together. Mixing the sexes will result in lots of baby gerbils. However a gerbil can exist quite happily on its own as long as it is given plenty of attention, toys and activities to keep it occupied. 
Sleeping Habits
The Mongolian Gerbil is more active during the day than at night. They have bursts of activity throughout the day and as a result have to take the odd forty winks here and there. 
Toys & Exercise
The cage itself could be furnished with items to provide exercise for the gerbil. The ball is better suited to the larger hamsters like the Syrian. As gerbils love to burrow a box filled three quarters full with shavings is ideal so they can burrow and tunnel as much as they like. They also like to climb. It is possible to provide plenty to entertain this gerbil with using household items, such as toilet roll tubes and boxes. 
Types of Coat
The coat should be smooth, soft and glossy. 
The Mongolian Gerbil is commonly seen in brown with white or light grey on the underside. The brown coat on the body has black on the ends of the hair and the undercoat is grey. They can also be seen in black, white, fawn, grey, lilac and silver; in fact there are over 20 colour variations of the Mongolian Gerbil. 
As the gerbil is generally very curious by nature you can use this to your advantage. When you approach the gerbil do so with a food it is particularly fond of. Its curiosity will get the better of it and it will come to you. Using this method will help to develop trust between you and your pet. Over a period of time you will be able to train the gerbil to carry out some simple tasks. Gerbils will learn quickly what is required of them but patience and understanding is required to gain their confidence. 
Show Characteristics
Country of Origin
Eastern Mongolia 

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