Gerbil Vs. Hamster: Which Pet Should I Get?

Nothing beats having a pet around the house to keep everyone active and happy. There’s just something to their bubbly and carefree nature that’s so contagious; you won’t even find the time to show them a grumpy face! Plus, it’s also a great way of teaching your kids responsibility and accountability at a very young age, and they get to have fun while learning these critical skills.

However, while most people think of dogs and cats when they think about pets, we shouldn’t forget the tiny furballs of fun and happiness like the cute gerbils and hamsters we see every time we pass by the animal shelter and adoption center. These small furballs are some of the most loving and cutest animals you’ll see, and they’re a favorite among a lot of people who can’t afford to have larger pets running around the house. So, today we’ll be comparing gerbils vs. hamsters and seeing which pet fits you best.

Remember, Both Are Equally Great Pets!

Likewise, before we move forward and start comparing the two, we want to emphasize that both gerbils and hamsters are great pets in their own right. So, while reading through this short guide, always keep in mind that whichever one you’re going to adopt, it’s your pet. Therefore, the final say still falls under your jurisdiction, so always consider your own situation and what type of fun and love you would want from a pet.

#1 Understanding Their Sociability

Typically, you would think that since both gerbils and hamsters share the same small stature and just some distinct features, they would reciprocate the same level of temperament and sociability. However, both of these small furballs are actually in stark contrast when it comes to socializing and having other furballs around them. In comparison, the hamsters are like the introverts that prefer the solitary life, and gerbils are the extroverts of the bunch that thrives when they’re around others.

  • Hamsters Prefer The Solitary Life: Believe it or not, when thinking about adopting a hamster, your best bet would always be to stick with just one and get to know them because they don’t bode too well with others. In fact, it can get so bad to the point that they might even fight each other to the death just to mark their territory inside the cage. So, to save you from all the trouble, keep in mind that hamsters prefer being alone in their natural habitat.
  • Gerbils Prefer The Sociable Life: Unlike hamsters, gerbils prefer a very sociable life. In fact, if you’re going to adopt a gerbil, it’s recommended that you adopt them in pairs or groups because they will be too stressed out when left alone in solitary. To care for your gerbil means to have more than one, so be aware that you’re going to take care of more than one of these furballs as opposed to the hamster family.

#2 Knowing Their Sleeping Patterns

Although we’d like to think that our pets just sync up with our everyday routine, even gerbils and hamsters have specific sleeping patterns that they naturally follow. And, if you want to have the opportunity to play with them and care for them, it’s always good to note when they’re more likely to be active and less likely to be irritated by your actions. On the one hand, hamsters are very nocturnal, and it’s best that you feed and play with them during the early morning or late at night. Meanwhile, gerbils love activity and are more inclined to matching up with your schedule of sleeping and waking up.

  • Hamsters Are Nocturnal: Hamsters prefer the nighttime, and they are naturally nocturnal animals that are most active during the night. In fact, if you get the opportunity to set up a camera, you might be surprised as to how much stuff your hamster does and gets done overnight. However, if you’re the type of person that loves to coddle their pets and check up on them all throughout the day, a hamster might find it very annoying because you’re getting in the way of their sleep.
  • Gerbils Always Love Activity: On the other hand, gerbils always love activity and are almost always ready for a fun time, regardless of what time you decide to prod and wake them up. It’s also preferred that you place their cage where most activity happens around the house because they love feeling that energy and vibe. In fact, they read the energy and reciprocate the same level back to their owners. Just remember that because they prefer doing a lot of stuff, they’re not the best pets for people who are always busy.

#3 Careful About Nipping & Biting

You’ve probably heard about stores of hamsters and gerbils nipping and biting their owners, and while they hardly ever do any serious harm, it’s also important to understand that these episodes can happen if you aren’t careful. In this case, both hamsters and gerbils are guilty of biting their owners. The only difference between them is how you avoid the situation from happening to you.

  • Hamsters Don’t Like Feeling Threatened: Hamsters are very timid creatures, and because we’re naturally bigger than them, they can feel threatened if they haven’t adjusted quite well to their new home yet. And, if you push your luck too far, you run the risk of getting bitten and them running away to their recently new burrow. So, ease them into things and don’t be too forceful with them because they’ll open up over time. Soon enough, you can take them out of the cage and have them sleep on your tummy!
  • Train Gerbils At A Young Age: In comparison, gerbils almost always won’t ever bite their owners if you manage to train them and get them used to human touch at a very young age. This is usually between the 2-week to 1-month period, and when they’ve acclimated their temperament to be open and friendly with people, you won’t have to worry about bites. However, gerbils are infamously known to nip and chew through everything, so be wary of all the new toys you put inside their cage.

Professional Tip: Smaller Pets And Children Don’t Mix Very Well

As a last tip, if you’re planning to get a gerbil or hamster for your kid, understand that if they’re pretty much toddlers, then they might not mix very well with smaller pets. Despite being smaller, these tiny furballs are a lot more responsibility-intensive to care for, so you’ll end up doing more of the leg work taking care of them. Unlike dogs and cats that you can monitor and train efficiently, gerbils and hamsters need a more careful approach. So, you be the judge if you think that your kid is responsible and capable enough to handle a smaller pet.

Finding The Perfect Pet

Pets are bundles of happiness that can bring so many smiles, laughter, and good memories to a household. Sure, they can’t talk with you or prepare food as a person can, but a lot of studies have shown that there are many health benefits to owning a pet, like decreased blood pressure, increased opportunities for socialization, and so many more. So, before you head down to the animal shelter and pick between a gerbil or a hamster, remember that all pets are perfect if given enough time, love, and attention. Show them the care that they deserve, and they’ll return the favor a hundredfold!

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