All species have a different lifespan, so some animals leave for just a few short years while other creatures live for decades. Like many small animals, gerbils have only a short lifespan, but there are many factors that affect how long a gerbil will live. Here is an overview of the lifespan of gerbils.
Average Lifespan of Gerbils
How long a gerbil will live differs from one individual to the next. However, they generally live for between three and five years in captivity. This gives them an average life expectancy of four years. There are some examples of gerbils living for up to eight years.
What Factors Affect the Lifespan of a Gerbil?
There are many factors that affect how long a gerbil will live. Some of these include:
- Wild gerbils- In the wild, gerbils have many predators. This means that very few gerbils live their life to their full life expectancy as they are eaten as prey. For this reason, gerbils have a shorter lifespan in the wild than they do in captivity.
- Habitat- A happy gerbil is a healthy gerbil and the habitat in where they live is an important element of this. It is essential they have a habitat that meets their needs and is kept clean to maintain good health.
- Genetic factors- There are some genetic conditions from which a gerbil can suffer that will impact on their lifespan.
- Diet- A gerbil that eats a nutritious and balanced diet will live a longer and happier life. Feeding your gerbil foods that are harmful to their health can shorten their lifespan.
- Injury and accidents- Injuries and accidents are likely to shorten your gerbil’s life and some accidents are instantly fatal. This is the reason it is so important to provide good living conditions and handle them with care.
- Gerbil relationships- There is some evidence that suggests gerbils who live with a partner or in a group will live longer than gerbils kept in solitude.
- Breed- Some breeds of gerbil live longer than others.
Lifespan by Gerbil Breeds
Not all breeds have the same life expectancy. The average lifespans for some of the most common breeds are as follows:
- Great gerbil- The great gerbil is a common breed in the wild but is not one that is kept in captivity. This breed has a lifespan of between two and four years.
- Fat-tailed gerbil- Also known as the Pachyuromysduprasi, this is a breed of gerbil that is now kept as pets but is not as common in captivity as Mongolian gerbils. One of the advantages they have over Mongolian gerbils is that they live longer as their lifespan is usually between five and eight years.
- Mongolian gerbil- This is the breed that is most commonly kept as pets and they have a lifespan of between three and four years, but some live up to five years.
A Few Tips to Keep Your Gerbil Healthy
As there are some factors that affect lifespan that are beyond your control, you cannot guarantee that your gerbil will reach its maximum life expectancy. However, by keeping your pet healthy, you can improve its chances of living a long and happy life. Here are some tips to keep your gerbil healthy.
- Diet- Nutrition is one of the most important factors of keeping a gerbil healthy, so you must make sure your pet has a balanced diet. You should predominantly feed your gerbil with food mixes and pellets along with treats of fruits or vegetables that are safe for gerbils twice a week. Similarly, you should make sure your pet has a fresh, clean supply of water.
- Habitat- Your gerbil needs a comfortable place to live that gives them the space they need. Keeping your gerbil’s habitat in a quieter part of the house can reduce stress and gives your gerbil a better chance of living a long life.
- Treating illness- If you suspect that your gerbil is unwell, you should always get them checked over by a vet who will recommend the best course of treatment or care to restore health.
- Hygiene- Keeping your gerbil’s habitat clean is essential as a dirty cage or tank exposes them to bacteria and puts them at risk of potentially fatal infections.
- Pairing- Gerbils live longer in pairs, so avoid keeping a single gerbil if you want your pet to live longer.
Although the average life expectancy of a gerbil in captivity is around four years, there are many factors that impact on how long a gerbil will live. By taking steps to keep your gerbil happy and healthy, you will give it the best chance of reaching its maximum life expectancy.