Gerbil Vs Hamster – What’s The Difference And Which Is Best For You?

Gerbil vs Hamster – why is the selection so tough! Right this moment we’ll have a look at the variations between the gerbil and hamster species. We are going to try the professionals and cons of every, and aid you determine which might be a greater pet for you.

Selecting between a gerbil or hamster is difficult, as a result of each are small rodents with related care wants. It should rely on the kind of hamster you select. Syrian hamsters are somewhat greater than gerbils and might dwell alone. However dwarf hamsters are far more much like the gerbil, and each rodents do greatest with firm. And there are different variations too!

Gerbil Vs Hamster

Many individuals aren’t positive what makes a gerbil a gerbil and a hamster a hamster. And most youngsters solely know they’re cute and small and quick and so, SO attention-grabbing! Studying extra a couple of gerbil vs hamster is a good thought earlier than making a dedication to look after one in all these little mammals. That will help you determine between a gerbil or hamster, on this article we’re going to have a look at:

Let’s begin off by outlining the distinction between a hamster and a gerbil.

What’s the Distinction Between a Gerbil and a Hamster?

One of many first inquiries to sort out is: is a gerbil a hamster? These two phrases can be utilized so interchangeably it truly is a good query!

Though they do have plenty of similarities, a gerbil or hamster are usually not one and the identical – they’re two totally different rodent species.

The species of gerbil mostly stored as a pet is the Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus). These gerbils are typically hardy and resilient.

There are a number of extra types of hamster which can be generally stored as pets. Pet hamsters will be Syrian or dwarf. There are a number of dwarf hamster species together with the Campbell’s dwarf, the Roborovski, the Djungian, the Russian Winter White and the Chinese language hamster.

A few of these varieties of hamster are extra much like gerbils than others. So let’s look in a bit extra element.

Gerbil vs Hamster Historical past

An animal’s historical past won’t impression whether or not you select to purchase one. However, it may be actually attention-grabbing to study, particularly if children might be serving to you take care of your new pet.

So, let’s discover out extra about the place the hamster and gerbil come from.

Gerbil Historical past

There are round 110 species of gerbil on the planet that we all know of. However, we’ll concentrate on the Mongolian gerbil, as that is the one mostly stored as a pet.

Unsurprisingly, these gerbils come from Mongolia in East Asia! They’re discovered within the grassy plains and steppes.

Mongolian gerbils had been first discovered and despatched to the French Museum of Pure Historical past by a Catholic missionary known as Father Armand David.

The scientist Henri Milne-Edwards gave these little rodents their official scientific identify.

Though they had been initially bred for scientific functions, they had been quickly frequent pets in China. It wasn’t lengthy until they made their option to America and Western Europe as pets.

You possibly can learn extra about gerbil historical past right here.

Hamster Historical past

Teddy bear hamsters don’t come from the identical place as gerbils. These small rodents are discovered within the desert, initially in Syria.

They had been first discovered and studied by a biologist known as Israel Aharoni.

Nevertheless, Russian Dwarf hamsters had been first collected in Mongolia by a person known as Charles Campbell.

Hamsters had been imported to America in 1936. It was after this that these little rodents actually grew to become well-liked as family pets.

You possibly can learn extra about the place hamsters come from on this information.

Gerbil vs Hamster Look

Mongolian gerbils have massive ears to listen to any hungry predator who tries to creep up on them. And sizable again ft to face up, go searching, or run away with! Additionally they have giant eyes and a protracted furry tail.

A more moderen pet gerbil is known as the fat-tailed gerbil. These gerbils have – you guessed it – wider tails with none hair on them. Within the wild, the gerbil would retailer further fats reserves within the tail.

Hamsters don’t have tails, though they do have little tail nubs. Hamsters even have very distinctive cheeks – they’ll stuff them so full their heads appear to be they’re actually twice as giant as they are surely!

Hamsters are stockier of their physique and legs than gerbils are. They don’t have a tendency to face up on their again legs and are extra keen on simply operating round.


Whether or not you select a gerbil or hamster as a pet, you’ll be able to stay up for having a really cute pet to have a look at!

Even higher, gerbils and hamsters can even exhibit as a lot visible selection of their coat coloration, coat sort and eye coloration as cats and canine can!

Gerbil Colours

In the event you’ve ever checked out a cute gerbil in a pet retailer and thought, “Oh how beautiful, a brown gerbil!,” you is perhaps stunned to find out how complicated gerbil coloration genetics will be!

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Typically talking, gerbils could also be two-toned (one coloration on high and one other coloration on the stomach) or they might have a sample (spots, agouti). Gerbil coat colours can embody brown, gray, orange, yellow, cream, nutmeg, purple, silver, slate, white and even orange!

Gerbil eye colours will be ruby purple, pink or darkish brown or black.

Hamster Colours

Hamsters can are available a stunning array of coat colours, from pure winter white to black, gray, orange, chocolate brown, champagne, cream, sable, rust, cinnamon, golden, and lots of extra fairly permutations.

Coat patterns can vary from stable to two-toned (one coloration on high and one coloration on the stomach), agouti, noticed, banded, dappled, roan and tortoiseshell.

Hamsters even have one different attention-grabbing variation: their coats will be quick and easy, lengthy and easy or lengthy and curly!

Hamster eye colours can vary from darkish brown or black to ruby to pink.


If you evaluate gerbil vs hamster dimension, the hamster usually comes out the scale winner. That is a minimum of the case when evaluating Syrian hamsters in opposition to Mongolian gerbils!

Nevertheless, when evaluating the dwarf hamster vs gerbil, you’ll discover the gerbil appears to be like like a heavyweight subsequent to its tiny dwarf hamster counterpart!

Growing an consciousness of those tiny pets’ dimension will be particularly essential if you’re serving to a younger baby select their first pet. Syrian hamsters and gerbils will be simpler to deal with, principally as a result of they’re sufficiently big to carry securely.

Smaller dwarf hamsters are so tiny and wriggly and quick, they’ll simply escape if faraway from their habitat! As soon as gone, these miniature escape artists will be very, very arduous to recapture.

So How Large Are They?

At maturity, a gerbil would possibly weigh anyplace from 50 to 60 grams (1.76 to 2.11 ounces).

A Syrian hamster, the biggest hamster breed, can weigh anyplace from 87 to 130 grams (3.06 to 4.58 ounces) at maturity.

In distinction, a Roborovski dwarf hamster, the smallest dwarf hamster species, will solely weigh 20 to 24.9 grams (0.71 to 0.88 ounces).

Gerbil vs Hamster Temperament

Gerbils are sometimes fairly shy, however in addition they make affectionate pets. They bond rapidly with house owners that dedicate plenty of time to them.

Hamster temperament, however, varies somewhat relying on the kind of hamster you’re bringing dwelling.

Syrian hamsters are often seen because the friendliest sort. They’ve very candy personalities, and barely chew, particularly when house owners kind a powerful bond with them.

Dwarf hamsters is usually a little extra extremely strung. They’re extra prone to chew than Syrian hamsters, particularly if scared.

However, they’re additionally usually sweet-natured.

Taming and Socializing a Gerbil or Hamster

Each gerbils and each sort of hamster have the potential to chew, particularly in the event that they really feel scared or unsafe.

However, by dealing with them gently every single day, from the time you deliver them dwelling, you’ll be able to cut back this danger. It will construct a powerful bond between you and your little pet.

Relying on whether or not you select a gerbil vs hamster, you might must plan for one or a minimum of two new pets!

Let’s check out the social wants of the gerbil or hamster in captivity.

Gerbil Social Wants

Gerbils are fairly social within the wild and in captivity as properly. Except you’re adopting a senior gerbil that’s used to residing alone, it’s a lot preferable to maintain pet gerbils in pairs.

It’s also advisable to maintain same-gender gerbils collectively. Two females is at all times a very good pairing and two male littermates is usually a nice alternative as properly.

In the event you do hold a male and a feminine collectively, you will want to be ready for many tiny infants beginning nearly instantly!

Fortunately, so long as the gerbils in query are a minimum of 8 weeks outdated, it’s fairly simple to inform a feminine and a male aside. Simply look beneath the gerbil’s tail. Beneath a male gerbil’s tail, you will notice a pair of testicles that might be noticeably absent beneath a feminine gerbil’s tail.

Hamster Social Wants

There will be vital socialization variations between a hamster and a gerbil relying on the species of hamster you’re preserving.

For instance, the preferred pet hamster species, the Syrian hamster (generally additionally known as the golden hamster or the teddy bear hamster), is infamous for stepping into fights when housed with different hamsters. It’s best to at all times home a Syrian hamster by itself.

Then again, dwarf hamsters can often be housed in pairs and even teams if they’re littermates. That is greatest finished when your dwarf hamsters are younger, as an older dwarf hamster who’s used to being alone won’t be so eager on having a stranger dumped into his habitat sooner or later!

TIP: For extra detailed data on the socialization wants of various hamster species, we suggest you browse over to this informative article!

Gerbil vs Hamster Housing

Each the gerbil and the hamster have particular housing necessities. When these are met, you should have a significantly better likelihood of getting a wholesome gerbil or hamster pet!

Where Do Hamsters Like To Hide When They Escape Their Cage?

Gerbil Cages

Gerbils are pure diggers, chewers and adventurers. They’ve actually robust hind legs and stabilizing lengthy tails for leaping, and they’re very energetic and curious!

What this implies for you, the gerbil proprietor, is that you just actually, actually need a gerbil-proof habitat. A glass aquarium or steel habitat with a easy backside are actually the one protected selections.

Gerbils have an evolutionary must dig and chew, and if these aren’t met, your gerbils can rapidly grow to be fairly sad. So gerbils want loads of bedding to dig and nest in.

Measurement-wise, your gerbil cage ought to mirror the variety of occupants. The Humane Society of the USA recommends a 10-gallon aquarium for 2 gerbils. Add 5 further gallons for each further gerbil.

Hamster Cages

The dimensions of your hamster’s cage ought to correlate to the species of hamster you’re caring for in addition to the variety of occupants.

Hamsters, like gerbils, like to chew and dig and climb. They don’t leap, nevertheless. So like gerbils, your hamster will want a stable, escape-proof habitat, and that is particularly essential when preserving the tiny dwarf hamsters!

Plastic, glass or steel cages with easy bottoms are the very best selections.

10 gallons is an acceptable dimension for a single dwarf hamster, though the bigger you’ll be able to go, the higher. 15 gallons is the minimal dimension for a single Syrian hamster, though once more, bigger is at all times higher.

Caring for a Gerbil

Gerbils are usually thought-about a hale and hardy household pet. They’re resilient even within the face of inexpert dealing with by younger pet carers, particularly when housed with different gerbils for firm.

You’ll need to often clear out your gerbil’s habitat.

Regardless of their dimension, these tiny rodents want loads of train. They might do properly with a protected enclosed train space exterior of their cage too. Though, supervise them while you deliver them out of their cage.

Make certain to deal with them each day too. It will assist to encourage a bond between you and your gerbil, and likewise assist to fulfill their social wants.

Watch that their nails don’t get too lengthy. Communicate to your vet if you happen to’re involved.

Caring for a Hamster

Hamster care is similar to gerbil care. They need to be cleaned and dealt with often in order that they keep comfortable and wholesome.

Communicate to your vet if you happen to’re fearful their tooth or nails are getting too lengthy.

Additionally, you ought to be cautious of every other pets within the family, particularly when bringing your hamster or gerbil out of their cage.

As an example, canine and cats can see small rodents as pets, and even as a tasty snack. So, by no means depart your hamster or gerbil out with out supervision.

And at all times be light when dealing with them.

Nocturnal Pets

Gerbils are nocturnal, sleeping the day away and waking as much as grow to be extra energetic because the solar units. That is probably an evolutionary tactic to maintain out of sight of predators, who see a wild gerbil not as an entrancing playmate a lot as a tasty appetizer!

Hamsters are the identical! Like gerbils, they’re nocturnal, which suggests they’re extra energetic after the solar units. You received’t be capable of play and work together with them all through the day.

It’s additionally essential to recollect this when selecting the place to put their cage.

There’s an opportunity they’ll wake you up while they’re rummaging round at night time in the event that they’re too near your mattress!

However they need to even be away from any loud noises within the day to allow them to relaxation in peace!

Hamster vs Gerbil Food regimen and Feeding Schedule

The most typical method of feeding gerbils and hamsters is to make use of a industrial, shop-bought meals.

However, this may be topped up with enjoyable recent treats. Ensure you at all times test if a meals is protected earlier than providing it to your pet.

Industrial meals could have charts on the entrance that let you know which animals they’re acceptable for.

Each rodents ought to have fixed entry to recent water.

Gerbil and Hamster Well being

Each gerbils and hamsters are usually thought-about to make for hardy, wholesome pets.

Nevertheless, like all animal species, gerbils and hamsters do have sure recognized well being points that may crop up infrequently.

Gerbil Well being

Gerbils can endure from dental illness. That is usually precipitated when the gerbil’s tooth develop too lengthy to chew healthily. Offering plenty of chewable treats is an efficient option to forestall dental points.

These little pets are additionally susceptible to pores and skin points, together with mites, fur mats and tail de-gloving (lack of pores and skin and/or fur on the tail).

Gerbils can develop interior ear plenty (obstructive ear illness or aural cholestratoma). That is generally known as “head tilt illness,” as a result of because the mass grows, it causes the top to tilt to at least one facet.

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Lastly, some gerbils can inherit epilepsy (“matches”). Vets estimate epilepsy could have an effect on as much as 40 % of gerbils.

Whereas this isn’t typically deadly, it may be upsetting to witness! One of the simplest ways to keep away from bringing dwelling a pet with inherited epilepsy is to decide on your breeder rigorously.

Hamster Well being

Maybe the most typical difficulty that impacts hamsters is dental illness. It is because, just like the gerbil, the hamster’s tooth develop repeatedly from start to loss of life.

Offering plenty of chewable toys can assist hold the tooth safely filed.

Moist tail illness, a.ok.a. hamster diarrhea or proliferative ileitis, is a critical well being difficulty. It’s attributable to micro organism and will be deadly in a short time when left untreated.

Hamsters may also be susceptible to growing tumors, each benign and cancerous. Tumors are extra apt to kind on glands than anyplace else and at all times require immediate veterinary care.


Gerbils in captivity can dwell from two to 5 years.

Hamsters in captivity can dwell between two and 4 years, relying on species.

So, neither of those rodents is a brief time period dedication.

Can Gerbils and Hamsters Reside Collectively?

Gerbils and hamsters ought to by no means be housed collectively.

Sure, gerbils are social animals. However, they need to solely ever be housed with different gerbils.

Hamsters are very territorial rodents. They’re prone to assault gerbils if positioned in the identical cage.

Syrian hamsters ought to by no means be housed with one other pet, they need to dwell alone.

Some dwarf hamsters might be high quality residing with littermates. However, even they are often territorial and combat each other. If this occurs, they are going to must be housed individually.

If you would like a number of rodents residing collectively, you may be greatest selecting solely gerbils.

Can Gerbils Eat Hamster Meals?

If you’re shopping for industrial meals, you must test what pet it’s designed for.

Each hamsters and gerbils want fibrous meals that may grind down their tooth. However, in addition they want a specific steadiness of vitamins.

Some industrial meals could state that it’s protected for each gerbils and hamsters. However you shouldn’t supply your gerbil hamster meals if it doesn’t particularly say it’s protected for gerbils too.

This might result in dietary deficiencies in your gerbil.

Can Hamsters Eat Gerbil Meals?

The reply to this query is identical as earlier than.

In the event you purchase gerbil meals that additionally says it’s protected for hamsters on the packaging, it needs to be okay on your hamster to eat.

Nevertheless, if it doesn’t additionally state it’s protected for hamsters, it’s best to keep away from it.

Gerbil vs Hamster for Kids

Each gerbils and hamsters are well-liked selections for older youngsters. However, it’s essential to make it possible for your baby is aware of precisely methods to look after and deal with these pets.

Dwarf hamsters are very small and fast. They love to flee and might chew extra typically, in order that they aren’t nice for youths.

Gerbils and Syrian hamsters are nonetheless small and delicate pets. So, supervise children once they’re enjoying with and dealing with these pets.

They do greatest with children who’re sufficiently old to study precisely methods to look after them.

Professionals and Cons of a Gerbil vs Hamster

Let’s recap the professionals and cons of every sort of pet earlier than making a decision.

Gerbil Professionals

  • Social animals
  • Basic care is simple
  • Are available in plenty of colours

Gerbil Cons

  • You’ll need to purchase a number of gerbils
  • Will chew if not socialized properly
  • Gained’t be capable of play with them by means of the day

Hamster Professionals

  • Pleasant and sweet-tempered
  • Housed alone so fewer pets to look after
  • Syrians are greater, so simpler to deal with

Hamster Cons

  • Gained’t be capable of play with them by means of the day
  • Dwarfs will must be housed individually in the event that they combat
  • Will chew if not socialized properly

Gerbil vs Hamster – Which Did You Decide?

Now that you realize what’s the distinction between a gerbil and a hamster, the one query left to reply is, “Ought to I get a hamster or a gerbil?” Answering this query, after all, is private and extremely particular person!

So what do you suppose? Gerbil vs hamster – the selection is as much as you!

Please drop us a remark and tell us which pet you selected and why! We’d love to listen to your story!

References and Additional Studying

  • Costigan, E. ‘Rodents: Hamsters, Rats & Mice, Gerbils, Chinchilla, Degu’, Greystones Vet (2018)
  • Musser, G. ‘Gerbil: Rodent’, Encyclopedia Britannica (2018)
  • Quesenberry, Ok.E. ‘Breeding and Copy of Gerbils’, Merck Vet Guide (2018)
  • Morrow, J. (et al) ‘Gerbil Colour Stripes’, American Gerbil Society (2018)
  • Locker, M. ‘This X-Ray Exhibits How Hamsters Can Match So A lot Meals in Their Tiny Cheeks’, Time (2015)
  • Bradford, A. ‘Hamster Info: Food regimen, Habits & Sorts of Hamsters’, Reside Science (2014)
  • Bryan, A. ‘Genetics and Inheritance’, Midland Hamster Membership UK (2018)
  • Devine, L. ‘Gerbils: Epilepsy’, Arizona Exotics Veterinary Clinic (2011)

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