Looking for an easy-to-manage pet for your child? Look no further than the gerbil!
Pets are a great challenge to have for kids - they teach them how to take care of an animal while giving them some responsibilities; a good thing to impart to a young child. But choosing your child's first pet is a big step, so before you run out to the pet store (or a rescue shelter!) to pick out your kid's furry companion, it's important to sit down and know how to choose the perfect first pet. When thinking of a great pet for your child, it's a good idea to start small - small pets like rats (aka Remy in Ratatouille), hamsters, guinea pigs, and gerbils usually do the trick.
Gerbils are a popular pet for first-timers: small and compact, easy to handle, active, and not to mention, they are also super cute! Yes, gerbils make great pets - and after reading this list, like us, you'll also be on board as to why pet gerbils are indeed the perfect first pets for kids.
Why Choose Gerbils as First Pets for Kids
1. Low Maintenance
Compared to popular pets like dogs and cats, taking care of a gerbil is relatively low maintenance (and low in cost), it comes with the small size: gerbil care basics include a good cage, lots of good bedding, gerbil food, a water bottle, and an exercise wheel. Gerbils, from the subfamily Gerbillinae, are easy to take care of and don't require much effort - just in case if your kid isn't up to the task. And it's also a given they don't need to be taken out for walks like dogs do - just a romp in their gerbil ball or playing in an enclosed space will do. Their palm-size also makes them a great pet for those who have little space in their home.
2. Gerbils Are Social Animals
Pet gerbils are social animals; they are very friendly (in fact: gerbils rarely, if ever, bite) and love being handled by their humans. Their ability to build strong relationships with their humans is one of the most charming qualities about them. Actually, if you get a pet gerbil, it's best to bring home two or more, as a solo life for this small pet is damaging to its wellness; single gerbils can develop a lot of health issues. So be sure to get your pet gerbil some buddies.
3. Active and Entertaining
What makes gerbils such great pets for kids is that they are so active and entertaining. They can regularly be found burrowing, nibbling on sunflower seeds, or exploring their cages: whether they are glass terrariums, wire cages (even though these are not recommended as pet gerbils can hurt themselves on the wire), or plastic cages (also beware of this option as gerbils love to chew). When they are awake, gerbils are always on-the-go, and they provide constant entertainment for your kids.
More on Gerbils...
With all of these superb qualities for the great pet comes one downside: gerbils have a relatively short lifespan - only about two to five years. There are about 90 species of gerbils, with the ones sold in pet stores being most likely Mongolian gerbils. One of their favorite activities is burrowing, so they need a thick layer of bedding (usually made of cardboard shavings, hay, or shredded paper): throw in a couple of cardboard tubes and you will have a couple of happy gerbils!
Do you have a gerbil family member? Share them with our Wide Open Pets Instagram!
This article was originally published October 27, 2020.