Other name(s): Pallid, Pale Gerbil
Scientific name: Gerbillus perpallidus
Curious and good natured, the Pallid Gerbil can make an excellent pet. They’re active and dynamic, burrowing, climbing, and running on wheels. The Pallid Gerbil has an agreeable temperament and a low tendency to bite – however, they’re small and quick moving which can make them more difficult to handle.
The Pallid Gerbil hails from the deserts of north-western Egypt. As a desert species, they drink very little water and urinate very little, making them popular for their low odor.
Appearance / health:
Similar to the Cheesman’s Gerbil, the Pallid Gerbil is sandy (orange-yellow) brown in color with a clearly separated creamy white belly. The tail, which is longer than the head and body, is bald, and so are the long ears. The eyes are round, large, dark, and surrounded by white hairs. The body is slimmer and smaller than the Mongolian Gerbil. They mature to about 8 inches in length including the tail.
Pallid Gerbils are generally robust animals with no special health-related concerns. They would be susceptible to ailments common to small mammals like colds (brought on by too much moisture or very high temperatures), indigestion (from bad food), or undue stress. In addition, care must be taken when handling a gerbil: the tail can easily be broken and skin on the tail may even detach or “de-glove”. If not given appropriate things to chew on, gerbil’s teeth can over-grow which results in a variety of problems.
Behavior / temperament:
Pallid Gerbils are highly social and are best kept in small same-sex groups or pairs. However, if your gerbils don’t know each other, do some research on how best to introduce them: gerbils can be quite aggressive towards strangers. A gerbil’s disposition can vary wildly based on their care and handling as babies, but the Pallid Gerbil has a reputation as peaceful and not prone to biting. The Pallid Gerbil may be somewhat more skittish than other gerbil species, and their quick movements can make them difficult to catch and handle. They’re less likely than some species to sit quietly in your hand, which may make them less suitable for young children than other species.
Pallid Gerbils 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. Gerbils are not particularly noisy, though they may make high pitched squeaks when playing, excited, or stressed.
The Pallid Gerbil is a strictly nocturnal species and will spend most of the day sleeping. They like to burrow and dig and should be provided many opportunities to do so. They are also hearty chewers and should be provided with plenty of safe materials for this purpose.
Pallid Gerbils 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 gerbil’s need to gnaw.
A thick layer of bedding needs to be provided for your Pallid Gerbil 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 gerbil 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.
Pallid Gerbils 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 gerbil will most certainly chew on them! Branches of fruit trees, birch, hazel, and beech, are good for chewing. The Pallid Gerbil will also enjoy having an exercise wheel.
Finally, your gerbil 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 Pallid Gerbil, commercially available foods will ensure your gerbil 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 gerbil may prefer these pieces and pick them out from the more nutritious pellets. In addition, you may supplement your gerbil’s diet with oats, millet, wheat, cereal, and dry pasta. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also give your gerbil the occasional mealworm or cricket. Nuts and seeds can be given sparingly and are a good source of protein. Fruits and vegetables are unnecessary to the Pallid Gerbil’s health, and should be given sparingly: too much gives them diarrhea (in their natural habitat, they rarely encounter food that has too much moisture content).
Fresh water should always be available for your gerbil. Gerbils 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.
entertaining pet, young children
unfriendly behavior, strong smell, litter training
sawdust, desert mammals, chew toys, nibble cardboard tubes, tunnels
My first ever pets (Pallid Gerbil's)
I was very young when I got my first ever pets which were Pallid Gerbil's but I will do my best to recall as much as I can about them, including how we had a shock one morning when we woke up.
I vaguely remember going to the pet store with my parents to look for a hamster but from what I can recall they didn't have any on the day we went and me being very young at the time didn't take this very well and because upset at not being able to get a pet. My dad suggested that we might get some gerbils instead and this is what we did.
We were told by the pet store that we had two boys gerbils which would be best as otherwise they would likely breed and we would end up with more gerbils than we could probably handle. I remember that the gerbils fascinated me as a kid and I would spend hours watching them play and nibble cardboard tubes and generally just having fun in their cage.
Several months passed since we got the gerbils and all was well, we were even able to get them out of the cage and handle them. They were very good with me and though I was just a small inquisitive child I don't recall them biting me at all. What I do remember however is the shock and horror on my mums face when she got up one morning to find that we had more gerbils than we did the night before, we had no idea that the gerbil was pregnant and didn't even consider it as we were told that they were both supposedly males.
We welcomed these new additions into the family and sought out advice from a vet as we had no idea what we needed to do. We ended up keeping a few of them and the rest were given to friends and family's that were looking for a new pet.
I would strongly advise after this experience that you definitely make sure you know what your getting though if you don't want the shock of suddenly finding that you have more gerbils than you initially had..
From JussieHay Jul 3 2013 1:33PM
Gerbils love tunnels!
One thing that every gerbil owner should know, is gerbils love to tunnel! Having pre-built/pre-installed tunnels is an excellent way to keep your gerbil busy. They enjoy running through tunnels back and forth with multiple exits/entrances. Gerbils also thoroughly enjoy nesting, so don't be surprised if you find a nest at each end of your tunnel systems!.
From Casey 390 days ago