Did you just buy a cute new gerbil? Have you been wondering how long before they happily jump onto your palms to play? This article will tell you all you need to know.
So how long?
If you acquired a 6-week-old gerbil pup it’ll only take 2-3 weeks to get them accustomed to you, but you will have to handle them every day. If they’re older, it may take over 2 months. It all comes down to their cheeky personality and your standard of care.
Do gerbils bond with their owners?
Absolutely! Gerbils are naturally inquisitive and once they’re comfortable with you they will investigate by climbing up and down and zooming around. However, it’s also important to keep in mind they’re not the cuddliest of animals and will bond with you in their own sweet way.
Building a bond with your newfound gerbil will take some patience and time. As soon as you’ve brought them home it is important to give them time to get used to their new surroundings.
Steps to bond with your Gerbil:
- Daily Interaction: The first step is spending time with your gerbils every day. Sit with them, talk to them in a calming voice, sing to them softly. Observe how they react. Are they scared or curious? If they are startled by something you do, note that and be more cautious next time.
- No Sudden Movements: Gerbils are prey animals so quick sudden movements tend to frighten them. Avoid these. If they’re interested, put your hand in the cage and let them come sniff you. Avoid trying to catch them or hold them. Just let your hand stay in there for a few minutes.
- Treat Bribe: Once the gerbils are comfortable with your hands, place a treat in your palm. Let them climb onto your palm and grab it. Don’t be tempted to bring them out of the cage just yet.
- Scratches: The next step is introducing your other hand and petting them. They usually love being scratched behind their ears.
- Outside the Bars: Hooray it’s time to bring them out of the cage! Make sure you are sitting on the floor and not standing so they don’t fall. Gerbils love a good adventure so they will not stay on your palm for too long and will want to run around the room to explore. Make sure you’ve taken the necessary precautions and blocked off ant possible exits.
- Cuddles: This is not a necessary step and may require an extra time. You can try and cuddle them. Most gerbils don’t like being cuddled but if you have a cuddly baby they will love it. Remember not to squeeze them too tight.
Do gerbils recognize their owners?
There is no scientific evidence to prove that gerbils recognize their owners. Nonetheless, there is anecdotal evidence from gerbil parents and pet forums.
Rodents like gerbils have exceptional senses of smell and sound. In the wild, gerbils recognise each other by smell, and we think they do the same with humans. You will often notice your gerbil pressing its nose against your body and taking a few whiffs of your scent.
Although they have a great sense of hearing, smell is the primary sense used to recognise fellow gerbils and humans. These are clever little beings and can recognise their own names being called as well if trained well. They can also distinguish between sound from different human beings, but they will still use smell to properly identify the owner.
Long term gerbil owners believe they do recognise them. This is because they show signs of trust and are relaxed around an owner who is trying to handle them. At the same time, if a stranger suddenly tries to pick them up, they run away and hide. This may indicate that they can tell who is or isn’t the owner.
What is the fastest way to tame a gerbil?
It’s very important to understand that gaining a gerbil’s trust takes time and patience. This is not accomplished overnight. Yes, there may be things you can do to make the process faster, but you must remember to go at your gerbil’s pace and not yours. A bond well-formed over time will be far greater in quality than rushing things and risking unnecessary harm to your pets.
- Age: Puppies that are 6-8 weeks old are easier to tame than adults. This doesn’t mean you can’t tame adults; they simply may take longer to get used to you.
- Gender: The consensus of the gerbil parent community is that males are tamed faster than females. Again, there is no scientific evidence for this, and it also does not mean females are hard to tame, they may just take longer. Remember, it also depends on their own unique gerbil personality.
- Consistency: This is key. You must spend time with them every day, provide them with the right enrichment with toys and food and they are sure to be fond of you sooner.
How do I know if my gerbil likes me?
Like all animals, there are positive and negative signs that your gerbils will display that will help you identify how pleased they are with you and their surroundings.
- Positive Signs:
- Readily approaching your hand
- Vocalising when petted – any purrs, chirps or squeaks.
- Sitting upright with arms at its side – happily curious.
- Grooming and greeting each other – if you have a pair of gerbils, them sniffing and playing with each other is a sign they are at ease.
- Negative Signs:
- Paws pressed together – high alert.
- Backs arched back – about to fight.
- Shaking, shivering – frightened or cold
- Pushing hand away – does not want to play/interact. Best to leave them alone and come back after some time.