Gerbils: Cute But Resentful

They are quick, sweet and you could watch them for hours. The “IG Rennmaus CH + LI” is committed to ensuring that gerbils are kept properly. She is the point of contact for questions about the keeping of these bright little animals.

It weighs barely 90 grams, is 20 to 25 centimeters tall, and lives two to four years – the Mongolian gerbil. Since it is very easy to care for, it is one of the most popular pets among rodents. Christoph Müller, President of the interest group (IG) Rennmaus Switzerland and Liechtenstein, also feel this. He and his wife Fabienne have been breeding gerbils since 2009. And the demand for young animals is great. In Muller’s family home in Aarwangen BE, there is a lot of animal life: Five cats, five rats, and various fish and shrimp live here – and all in harmony. However, the couple found their passion in raising Persian and Mongolian gerbils.

“Gerbils are still wild animals, you should never forget that,” says Müller. The little rodents may look cute, but they can attack, bite and scratch each other so hard that many an animal has not survived a fight. In addition, the animals are very unforgiving. Once they fall out, they will seldom reconcile. The problem is that such fights are common in gerbils kept in groups of three or more. Müllers particularly advise against a three-way constellation. Larger groups are only suitable for experienced owners.

The IG Takes in Quarreling Rodents and Tries to Find a New Society

This aggressiveness among the mice can appear suddenly. Many owners are then overwhelmed. For this reason, the approximately two dozen members of IG Rennmaus have set up an emergency telephone, which is managed by the board members. The IG takes in the little quarreling rodents and tries to associate them with other mice, with the aim of re-adopting them later.

In addition to reputable breeders, there are always dubious breeders – especially on the Internet. One feature is that these animals are often sold for free or very cheaply.

“We invest a lot of time in our breeding,” says, Christoph and Fabienne Müller, who sell their animals for 30 francs. Many of their customers are willing to pay this price because they know that the gerbils come from a reputable breeder. All breeding lines are tested by the Müllers for years and observed for hereditary diseases. Passing on your joy and fascination with the animals to the new owners – is the best thing about breeding.

In the Home of the Gerbil, There are Neither Lettuce Nor Pieces of Fresh Fruit

Christoph Müller advises cleaning the enclosure only every one to two months. Because the gerbil doesn’t appreciate it when mucking out too often. It is very important that the animals get enough bedding made of wood shavings, hay, or straw. It should be at least 25 centimeters high in an enclosure measuring 1 m × 50 cm × 50 cm. The gerbil is also uncomplicated when it comes to food: two teaspoons of grain mixture are enough per mouse and day. IG members receive many inquiries about food. It is important to think about how mice live in nature, says Muller.

The Mongolian gerbil comes from steppe and semi-desert areas in Mongolia. There is no fresh fruit or salad there. In addition to bedding, the animals also need shelter, a drinking bottle, and gnawing material. The Müllers also recommend a balance bike, as gerbils cover many kilometers in nature. The wheel should be made of wood and have a minimum diameter of 27 centimeters.

Christoph Müller has been in office as President of IG Rennmaus since March. His goal is to advance the IG. “People should know that we exist,” he says. For this reason, IG is taking part in the Animalia pet fair in St. Gallen for the third time. “For us, the fair is a big highlight of the association’s year,” he says. Especially since a lot of educational work is still necessary: ​​too often owners are badly advised before the purchase. Many new owners go on a spending spree and buy things that the gerbil doesn’t need. Here, too, the IG Gerbil wants to start with flyers and information walls at Animalia.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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