|Lifespan:||Short (Less than 8 years)|
Mongolian gerbils were first brought to the United States over 50 years ago, and they today remain a popular pet for both the young and old. Since gerbils do better when they have a friend, they might be a good choice for a pair of siblings who each want to have his or her own pet. Also, remember that while gerbils are relatively tame, young children who are handling them should be supervised by an adult at all times. Gerbils may bite, and their small size makes them more difficult for little hands to grasp!
Gerbils are very social and thrive when they're in pairs. Just ensure that they are of the same sex and introduced when they are young (or from the same litter). However, before you get your gerbil, make sure you can commit--it's not unusual for the tiny rodent to live for up to 4 years. And if there's one thing you want to remember, it's that gerbils love to chew (and on more than just a mixed diet of pellets, seeds, and pet block). For this reason, it may be worth it to consider purchasing a ten-gallon glass aquarium to house your gerbils, as a wire or plastic cage can easily result in escaped or injured pets. But the time commitment isn't bad--it's not necessary to clean the cage any more than one time a week. As always, check with your veterinarian with any questions you have about the health or care of your gerbil.
For more information about gerbil ownership and care, check out the ASPCA's Animaland.