Bushy Tail Jird

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Is this gerbil right for you?

Other name(s): Bushy Tailed Jird, Bushy Tailed Dipodil, Jirds Bushy Tails

Scientific name: Sekeetamys calurus

The basics:
The Bushy Tail Jird is a large gerbil-like rodent native to the rocky and arid highlands of Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan. The domesticated Bushy Tail Jird is less common than the Mongolian Gerbil, which is the gerbil most commonly kept as a pet, but they are often described as being calmer and friendlier than typical gerbils and with a larger size, they may be easier for children to safely hold.

In general, jirds and gerbils are social, inquisitive, and downright adorable, and can be a fun addition to your household. Jirds and gerbiles that have been handled from a young age tend to be very tame with an agreeable temperament and a low tendency to bite. As a desert animal, they drink very little water and urinate very little, making them popular for their low odor. They’re active and dynamic, burrowing, climbing, and running on wheels. The Bushy Tail Jird is more typically nocturnal than gerbils, so they will likely sleep throughout the day unless disturbed.

Appearance / health:
The Bushy Tail Jird is a large rodent from the gerbillinae subfamily. They’re much bigger than the gerbils you most commonly think of as pets, with a body length of 9 to12 inches and a tail that is 5 to 6.5 inches. They weight between 27 and 50 grams. Apart from their size, they have a very gerbil-like appearance: a tubular body with short legs and a very long tail. As the name implies, The Bushy Tail Jird has a tail that is covered in thick and fluffy hair from base to tip, with males having bushier tales than females. The face is long, tapering. They have bushy whiskers and big, black eyes.

The Bushy Tail Jird has a brownish-yellow coat speckled with black hair on the back and head, and white fur on the underside.

The Bushy Tail Jird has an average life-span in captivity of 3-4 years. They are generally robust animals, but there a few things you should watch for. In particular, jird’s and gerbil’s tails are very delicate. It can be easily broken and skin on the tail may even detach or “de-glove”. If not given appropriate things to chew on, jird’s teeth can over-grow which results in a variety of problems.

Behavior / temperament:
The Bushy Tail Jird hails from a rocky and arid climate. They like to burrow and dig and should be provided many opportunities to do so. Providing them with rocks to climb on will also help keep their nails shorter. They are hearty chewers and should be provided with plenty of safe materials for this purpose.

Jirds are highly social and are best kept in small same-sex groups or pairs. However, if your jirds or gerbils don’t know each other, do some research on how best to introduce them: they can be quite aggressive towards strangers. A jird’s disposition can vary wildly based on their care and handling as babies. A well-socialized jird will happily leap into your hand and rarely bite. Jirds must be handled carefully, and the tail is very fragile – never hold a jird by the tail or pull it – it may come off!

Jirds are intensely curious and extremely active. They should have plenty of room to run, jump, and climb with a variety of hidey-holes and tunnels. They often enjoy running on wheels. Jirds are not particularly noisy, though they may make high pitched squeaks when playing, excited, or stressed.

Bushy Tail Jirds are mighty chewers and this heavily influences the type of cage and materials you should select for them. The ideal cage is a large, glass aquarium with a secure, wire mesh lid. Plastic cages should never be used as they will not stand up to a jird's need to gnaw.

A thick layer of bedding needs to be provided for your Bushy Tail Jird to burrow into – 2 to 3 inches is a good start, but feel free to add more. Bedding can be made from a variety of natural materials including recycled paper, aspen shavings, and corncob. Cedar and pine shavings should be avoided because the aromatic compounds in the wood can cause respiratory irritation and even liver damage. In addition to bedding, your jird will also need nesting material. There are a variety of commercial nesting materials, but you can also use facial tissues, toilet paper, paper towels, and grass hay.

Bushy Tail Jirds should also be provided with surface-level tunnels and housing. Wood and cardboard are good materials for these, as are clay flower pots. They should be made of safe, natural materials because your jird will most certainly chew on them! Branches of fruit trees, birch, hazel, and beech are good for chewing. The Bushy Tail Jird will also enjoy having an exercise wheel.

Finally, your jird should be provided with a sand bath. This can be as simple as a small bowl or even pie tin filled with a half-inch of clean sand, or an area of sand incorporated into the habitat.

While homemade diets can be made for the Bushy Tail Jird, commercially available foods will ensure your jird is getting the correct balance of nutrients. Foods with a lot of nuts, seeds, or dried fruit should be avoided as they are high in fat and your jird may prefer these pieces and pick them out from the more nutritious pellets. In addition, you may supplement your jird’s diet with oats, millet, wheat, cereal, and dry pasta. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also give your jird the occasional mealworm or cricket. Nuts and seeds can be given sparingly and are a good source of protein. Fruits and vegetables can also be provided, although these should be given sparingly because too much gives them diarrhea (in their natural habitat, they rarely encounter food that has too much moisture content). Avoid spinach, lettuce, and citrus fruits and make sure all fruits and vegetables are washed well before giving it to your jird.

Fresh water should always be available for your jird. Jirds don’t drink a lot of water, so you should change the water frequently even if it isn’t low. Water dishes get dirty faster than water bottles, and should be changed daily.


fun, cuter, playful critters, little buddy


firsttimers, multiple litters, Gerbil biting, energy level


hiding places, Hyper little fuzz, thorough research

Health Tip

Bushy Tail Jird

From Oct 31 2013 8:46PM


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