Gerbil Lifespan: How Long Do Gerbils Live As Pets?

You’ve just taken a gerbil home from the pet store and you feel like a proud parent. You want your pet to be happy and healthy for as long as it lives. But how long can you expect that to be?…

…What is the life expectancy of a gerbil?

In this article, we’ve listed everything you must know about gerbil longevity. Check it out.

Key Takeaway:

The average gerbil lifespan is between 3 and 4 years. Mongolian gerbils live for 3 years and fat-tailed gerbils live for 5 to 7 years. Gerbils in the wild tend to have a shorter lifespan because they have to dodge predators.

Are you ready to find out more about your Mongolian gerbil and what you must do to extend its lifespan?

Then make sure you take a look at the tips and tricks coming up next in this article.

old black gerbil

How Long Do Gerbils Live?

We all want our pet gerbils to live a long and happy life.

But how long can we expect that to be? What is the average lifespan of a gerbil?

The average lifespan of a gerbil varies slightly depending on their species. On average, gerbils live for 3 to 4 years.

Other Gerbil Species and Their Lifespans

Ok, so we now know how long gerbils live in general. That is between 3 and 4 years.

But let’s get a little more specific. There are over 110 different species of Gerbillinae in the world. These include jirds, gerbils, and sand rats.

Of course, we can’t list all 110 here and their lifespans. In fact, the average life spans for the majority of those species are currently unknown.

So up next, we are going to list the lifespan information of some of the most popular breeds of gerbil such as the well-known house pet the Mongolian gerbil.

  • Fat-tailed gerbils (Pachyuromys duprasi) live for 5 to 7 years in captivity
  • Great gerbils (Rhombomys opimus) have a life expectancy of 2 to 4 years
  • Balochistan gerbils (Gerbillus nanus) live for 4.5 years as pets
  • Mongolian gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus) live for 3 years
  • Libyan gerbils (Meriones libycus) live for a maximum of 5 years in captivity

If you are looking for a gerbil with a long lifespan, it is best you choose a fat-tailed gerbil to take home. Always ensure you get your gerbil from a reputable breeder.

Male Mongolian Gerbil Lifespans

Male and female Mongolian gerbils have marginally different lifespans. The males do not live as long as the females.

How long is a gerbil’s life span?

Male Mongolian gerbils have an average lifespan of 110 weeks or 25 months.

In an experiment published in the book Experimental Gerontology, the oldest male gerbil reached 208 weeks old or just under 48 months. The oldest female gerbil reached 209 weeks old or just over 25 months old.

Female Mongolian Gerbil Lifespans

The female gerbils tend to outlive the male gerbils.

Female Mongolian gerbils have an average expectancy of 139 weeks or almost 32 months.

Certain diseases and serious health problems stopped the gerbils from living longer. Some of these health issues included skin cancer and tumors.

These health problems persisted in both male and female gerbils.

Predators of Wild Gerbils

Pet gerbils often live longer than wild gerbils. This is because wild gerbils have to successfully escape their predators, a danger that pet gerbils do not have to worry about.

They do not have anyone to treat them when they develop illnesses and cannot fend for themselves if they suffer trauma. A gerbil’s life cycle can terminate quickly if one of its predators attacks it.

Which animals prey on gerbils?

Here is a list of them.

  • Birds of prey
  • Owls
  • Snakes
  • Wildcats
  • Foxes

The presence of these natural predators affects many wild gerbils. They constantly have to watch their backs to ensure these animals don’t kill them.

To keep safe, they have to be successful at dodging these predators. That is why wild gerbils tend to have a shorter lifespan than pets.

Let’s take a look at how these animals affect a gerbil’s lifespan.

Birds and Gerbils

Birds of prey will catch and feed on a gerbil in the wild if the opportunity arises. These animals have very good eyesight and can spot the gerbils from a long way away.

They use their sharp talons to grasp and kill it then tear off their flesh with their curved beaks.

A barn owl will also prey on a wild gerbil. In the wild plains of Tanzania, plains gerbils are the main food of barn owls.

Barn owls, just like other animals, use their acute hearing to locate gerbils to prey on.

Reptiles and Gerbils

Both wild and captive snakes eat small animals. These include rodents like mice, rats, and gerbils.

Larger snakes will also eat slightly bigger animals such as rabbits. Snakes will kill their prey by constriction or by biting with their fangs.

A gerbil that is up against a wild snake doesn’t stand much chance.

Mammals and Gerbils

It is unusual for a pet gerbil to get on with a cat as wildcats prey on gerbils. The black-footed cat especially likes to feed on short-tailed gerbils.

This mammal can run between 5 and 16 kilometers in search of small prey like gerbils. It will kill up to 14 species per night.

Red foxes feed predominantly on small mammals like gerbils. They will also prey on voles, rabbits, and raccoons.

Illness and Pet Gerbils

Gerbil owners know that their pets have relatively short lifespans in comparison with other family pets.

How long do gerbils live as pets?

The lifespan of your pet gerbil will depend on how healthy it is. Here is a list of the most common illnesses and how they can affect a gerbil lifespan.


Your gerbil’s lifespan will be between 3 and 4 years if your gerbil stays out of harm’s way and doesn’t injure himself.

How long do gerbils live?

Your pet gerbil is a fragile animal. Its lifespan will be cut short if it suffers serious trauma.

If you drop your gerbil from a height or if he falls, he could seriously injure himself and break his delicate bones. There is often no way to save a gerbil if he fractures his spine or breaks his limbs.

How to Prevent Trauma

To prevent your younger and older gerbils from suffering from trauma, do the following.

  • Keep a close eye on your pet rodents when they are outside of their cages
  • Buy your gerbil a wheel that is especially for gerbils, not a hamster wheel. This will ensure it is the right size for your pet and prevent accidents.
  • Keep your gerbil away from other household pets. Cats and dogs might prey on or frighten your gerbil. We do not recommend you house your gerbils with other small mammals as they have such different living requirements.


Gerbils are extremely social animals and they need lots of attention from their owners.

How old do gerbils live?

Your gerbil’s life could terminate at a very young age if you do not give it the proper care it needs. On the other hand, happy and healthy gerbils tend to live for longer.

How to Care For Your Gerbil

Taking good care of your pet is really important. Even if you have other pets at home, you must always make sure you have time to take care of your little gerbil.

Here is a great wellness checklist for new gerbil owners. To ensure your gerbil lives for as long as possible, do the following.

  • Put your gerbil in a room where you will be able to check on him often
  • Gerbils regularly need checking over. Spend time handling him regularly every day and make sure he is well. Do not only handle him at the weekends as this will not give him enough time to get used to you.
  • Take him for a check-up at the vet at least once a year to prevent undetected health issues from advancing
  • Feed him each day. A large teaspoon of gerbil pellets is usually enough for the day.
  • Give him fresh water to drink each day
  • Clean his cage regularly
two old gerbils inside their cage


20 to 40% of gerbils will suffer from seizures. The majority of them will continue living a long life after having a seizure.

What is the lifespan of a gerbil with epilepsy?

Gerbils with epilepsy can live for just as long as gerbils without it. Most of the seizures last less than a minute and only cause ear twitching, whisker twitching, and in some cases violent muscle contractions.

In most cases, the gerbil will suffer from seizures only while it is young, when it becomes an adult, or after about 6 months, the frequency of the seizures tends to become fewer.

Less than 1% of them suffer a serious brain injury as a result of a seizure and die afterward. Fatal seizures tend to last longer than a minute.

How to Reduce Seizures

It is not possible to stop your gerbil from having a seizure.

But they are more likely to have a seizure when they are stressed. So preventing unnecessary stress is really important.

Here’s what you must do to reduce stress in gerbils and ensure your little pet lives a healthy life.

  • Avoid introducing new toys into your pets’ habitat
  • Avoid transferring your gerbil to a new habitat
  • Do not overhandle your pet

Gerbil Lifespan Facts

The average lifespan of a healthy gerbil is 3 to 4 years. But there are some extraordinary cases of gerbils that have exceeded that mark.

Take a look at some of these interesting gerbil lifespan facts.

  • According to the Guinness world records, a Mongolian gerbil named Sahara was the longest-living gerbil ever in captivity. She was born in May 1973 and lived to be 8 years and 4 months old.
  • The Indian jird has a life expectancy of just 1 to 2 years in the wild
  • The most common causes of premature gerbil deaths are trauma from which they cannot recover and seizure disorder epilepsy
  • Most gerbils become sexually mature at 10 to 16 weeks
  • Fat-tailed gerbils wean at 3 to 4 weeks old
  • Libyan gerbils live for a maximum of 5 years in captivity. The oldest Libyan gerbil recorded lived for 5.2 years.
  • Baby gerbils become adult gerbils at about 3 or 4 months old. By this age, they will have all their fur and will be completely adult-sized and shaped.
a baby gerbil on a hand

All You Must Know About a Pet Gerbil Lifespan

Gerbils are generally very easy pets to look after. But they have a short lifespan and we’re sure you want to make their short lives as happy as possible.

This article has helped us to see that gerbils as pets tend to live for 3 to 4 years. Those that are wild do not live as long as they are always being preyed on by bigger animals.

To keep your gerbil happy and healthy, keep a close eye on him so he doesn’t injure himself. You must also give him the proper care he needs, avoid taking him to new environments, and overhandling him.

Did you find this article interesting?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we always strive to provide you with the best articles about gerbils and other rodents. For more information about how to clean rodent cages, take care of your gerbil’s teeth, and to find top tips on how to begin breeding gerbils, check out our website.

Thanks for reading!

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