Acquired: Worked with pet (didn’t own)
Congleton, Cheshire, United Kingdom
Posted Oct 13, 2012
I had a friend who studied rodent behaviour and he had collections of all kinds of rodents. The Persian Jirds were his favourite though. They are really not easy to get hold of (at least in the UK) and that's partly because they are hard to breed.
They are cute and fluffy, love to burrow and are surprisingly good climbers. To keep them you need large tanks (at least 1m for a pair and 2m if you want to breed). They are desert animals, used to ranging widely for food.
I was told that they are sociable, but have only actually seen pairs together myself. The love to burrow an a mix of wood shavings and straw is a good substrate for them. Make sure it's deep enough that they can burrow into the substrate and hide themselves if needed.
They are surprisingly clever and playful and you have to be on the watch-out with them as they will escape from their homes at the slightest notice. What surprised me about their behaviour the first time I saw them was their love of climbing. Make certain that they have plenty of stones, branches and rope to climb on in their tank.
A nesting box can also be a good idea, particularly if you want them to breed. They will also use the nesting box to keep cool if the day is too warm. Straw or fine hay is a good bedding material.
Persian Jirds are notorious food hoarders. They do well on commercial hamster mix that should be supplemented with occasional fruit and vegetables. We also gave them mealworms and crickets for protein.
They will need water. The best way to give them liquid is using a bottle suspended from the tank lid (anything you place on the substrate will tend to get buried, including water bowls). Another feature of this rodent is that they are very loyal to their mates and do not easily pair up with another animal if they have been paired before.
They are nocturnal, but very inquisitive. They will investigate any sounds and though nervous (like most rodents) they are not particularly afraid of humans and are quite amenable to being picked up and gently stroked.
I liked these very much, but do not get them if you are a light sleeper as they can be very active at night and might well keep you up.