Gerbils, the tiny rodent tornadoes, make excellent pets. They are super energetic, easy to care for, and fun to watch. Their social and playful nature also makes them a favorite among kids. So, if you have a little one excited about his tenth birthday gift, a pet gerbil is a pretty attractive option.
But before you head to the pet store, look at the price tag, and think, “Wow, that’s pretty affordable,” you must know exactly what you’re signing up for.
So, how much does a gerbil cost?
In this article, we’ll look at the cost of buying and raising a cutesy gerbil. Knowing all the expenses will help you make an informed decision. No regrets, no holes in the wallets.
Gerbils cost between $5 and $100, on average. The price depends on the breed of gerbil and where you get him from. The annual expense of raising a gerbil can reach up to $500 and above. This includes gerbil cage setup, entertainment, healthcare, health insurance, and food expenses.
Ready to bring a fluffball explorer home? Let’s look at all the expenses you need to factor in first. So, read on!
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Cost of Purchasing A Gerbil
Gerbils are adorable energy-loaded furballs. They are pleasantly social, easy to care for, and pretty affordable. Buying a gerbil is the cheapest part of gerbil ownership. And since they are available at all good pet shops, you won’t have to go back and forth searching for one.
Okay, so how much do gerbils cost?
The cost of purchasing a gerbil varies depending on the two factors listed below:
- Gerbil breeds
- Your place of buying
Let’s look at these in detail, so you can decide what to do.
There are about 90 species of gerbils. But the ones that are most commonly kept as pets are Mongolian gerbils and fat-tailed gerbils.
How much should I expect to pay for each of these?
Let’s find out.
Mongolian Gerbils – $5 to $15
Mongolian gerbils, also known as Desert Rats, are native to Mongolia. Because they are so common, you can find one for an affordable $5 to $15.
Mongolian gerbils are pale brown or grey and have baby-soft fur. They grow up to 4 to 6 inches long (minus the tail) and boast big bright eyes. The average Mongolian gerbil lifespan is approximately three years in the wild. As pets, however, they max at four years of age.
What makes Mongolian gerbils perfect first-time pets, even for kids, is their social nature. They don’t bite too often and produce minimum waste.
Fat-Tailed Gerbils – $80 to $100
Fat-tailed gerbils are native to Northern Africa’s desert regions. They are adorably fluffy and have velvety soft, and thick fur. Most of these cuties have a mottled yellow-gray pattern that fades into white underbelly. These guys are impressively docile and happy creatures – perfect to keep as pets.
A fat-tailed gerbil can grow up to 4 inches long from the nose to the tail’s base. Their tails only grow 2 inches long and are pretty thick – that’s where they get their names. Their average lifespan is between 5 and 7 years. If you’re planning to buy one, get ready to shell out anywhere between $80 and $100.
Place of Buying
The second factor that influences the cost of purchasing a pet gerbil is where you buy one from.
We know that gerbils are popular pets, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that most pet stores keep them. But that’s not the only place where you can buy or adopt a pet gerbil. Scroll to find more on it:
Online – $0
Websites like Craigslist have a few pet gerbils up for grabs. If you're lucky to come across an ad, you might not even have to pay for the gerbil. Yep, some people give away their gerbils for free!
Why? Why would anyone give up their pet? That too for free?!
Pets are easy to purchase. But are they easy to raise? wonders
There are a few reasons people give their gerbils away:
- Their pet gerbils multiplied. Yep, these guys are quick to breed.
- They can’t keep up with the recurring costs. You’ll learn more about this in a bit.
- They got another pet. Rude, but people get bored of keeping the same pet for long!
Don’t think twice if you’re getting a healthy gerbil online for free.
Shelters – $5 to $30
Give an abandoned gerbil a new shot at life by adopting one from a rescue center or a shelter. Different shelters have different policies and pricing. So, you should check with the one you’re considering. But generally, adopting a gerbil costs about $5 to $30.
Some shelters sweeten the deal by including a gerbil enclosure and basic accessories, helping you save on the overall cost of owning a gerbil. It's a win-win for everyone!
Pet Stores – $5 to $100
This one’s a no-brainer. A lot of people purchase their pet gerbils from pet stores. Most of these stores usually have Mongolian gerbils for sale and at market-competitive prices.
But here’s a pro tip to keep in mind: when you spot unbelievably low prices, don’t leap in excitement just yet. It could be because the gerbil:
- Has sneaky little parasites hitching a ride
- Wasn’t fed quality food
- Is sick or injured
Before you commit to bringing a gerbil home, do a little detective work on the pet store. Check their reputation and animal care practices.
Breeders – $30 to $100
Contact a breeder if you’re a gerbil enthusiast looking for a rare breed. They’re like gerbil gurus, super serious about animal care.
Breeders give their gerbil cuties VIP treatment by keeping them in separate, spacious enclosures to wiggle around freely. Plus, their matchmaking is on point! They carefully pick the top-notch parents for gerbil romance.
But fair warning: buying from breeders is a tad pricier than buying from a pet store. It ranges from $30 to $100, depending on how fancy the breed is.
Cost of Purchasing Gerbil Supplies
Gerbils are nature’s tiny Indiana Jones. They are born to explore! Plus, they don’t accept any form of boredom. So, to keep your little pal happy and healthy, you’ll need supplies.
Which ones? Let’s check them out.
Gerbil Cage – $50-$100
A gerbil enclosure is where the magic happens – playing, nesting, and all that fun stuff gerbils love to do.
So, how much does a gerbil cage cost?
Your gerbil's cage will cost you between $50 and $100. The price will vary depending on how big or small the enclosure is. The material used also affects the price. Generally, glass enclosures are more expensive than plastic ones.
Since this one’s a one-time cost, we recommend you invest in a sturdy wire enclosure. It’ll save you money in the long run.
Here’s what you should consider when buying a gerbilarium:
- Size- A small cage will give your gerbils a sense of imprisonment.
- Secure lids – To keep the contents from spilling or little paws running away.
- Ventilation – Gerbils need fresh air. They don’t do well in enclosed spaces without ventilation.
- Bar spacing no more than 1/2 inch wide – You don’t want your gerbil squeezing through.
- Easy to clean – Say goodbye to anxious messiness!
Substrate and Bedding – $10-$15
Aren’t they the same thing?
Ermm, kinda! The terms are interchangeable, but there’s a slight difference. The substrate is what you line your gerbil’s cage with.
In contrast, bedding is your gerbil’s mattress. It’s what you line their nesting area with. If you want, you can use the same material for both.
Popular and safe substrate and bedding options include:
- Aspen shavings
- Cardboard bedding
- Timothy hay
- Coconut husk fiber
Just remember that gerbils are the happiest during their digging mission. Give them 5-6 inches of substrate at least. Get a 100L bag of bedding/substrate for $10-$15. It'll last you months.
Gerbil Sand – $10-$15
Gerbils bathe in the sand. Yep! No water for these fellas! They roll their tiny bodies in sand baths to get rid of excess oil and odor. But you can’t use regular sand; it can cause allergies and respiratory problems.
You’ll have to buy gerbil-friendly sand, more specifically, chinchilla sand bath. Buy a 200g package for $10-$15. It’ll last you months too!
Tip: Swap lumpy and moldy sand for a fresh batch to avoid bacterial growth.
Food Bowl – $15
Gerbils are foragers; they like hunting for food by digging in the substrate. So, hide some yummy goodies in there for an adventurous snack.
But you’ll still need a food bowl. Go for ceramic ones – they’re tough cookies and won’t crack like plastic ones. Budget around 15 bucks for a pair of these.
Water Bowl/Bottle – $6-$20
Do I need a water bowl, too?
If you want to keep things simple, yep, buy one! But if you want to fancy things up and minimize your duties, grab a mounted water bottle. You’ll find plenty of options online and at stores that range between $6 and $20.
Toys – $2-$40
Do you love your peaceful night’s sleep? Never leave out the toys! Gerbils love to play! Day or night – they don’t care. All they want is action. If they’re bored, they’ll make sure you know. They’ll chew on their cage’s furniture, gnaw the cage wires, and drive you nuts!
So, buy some toys to keep them entertained. They don’t have to be expensive; even a cardboard tube will do. If you want something fancier, exercise wheels are fun. They all love chew toys too. Besides keeping them busy, chew toys help keep their teeth in check.
What about tunnels?
The tunnels in pet shops and stores are mostly made of plastic. Plastic isn’t safe for your little whisker puff. Plus, gerbils like digging tunnels themselves. Leave the job to them; they’ll be happy. If you still think a tunnel will keep them busier (and quieter), make one with cardboard rolls from toilet paper or kitchen towels. It’s cost-effective and fun for your gerbil peeps!
Food – $50 to $100
Gerbils are little food enthusiasts – they munch on both plants and animals. They’re into veggies, fruits, seeds, and even insects! Yep, crickets, locusts, beetles, and worms, it’s all on their menu!
It’s best to give your gerbil a variety of food. Plus, don’t skimp on the quantity! Gerbils usually eat a lot, which is why you’ll have to buy in bulk and stock up frequently.
You can get pre-made gerbil mixes from stores or online. They are full of oats, sunflower seeds, wheat flakes, and other nutritious things. The annual cost of food and treats for a gerbil will be around $50 to $100.
Cost of Maintaining Gerbil’s Health
Gerbils, like any other pets, will need to see a vet at some point. These little babies can face several health issues, from mild to severe.
Why do gerbils get sick?
There are a few reasons why gerbils get sick.
- Gerbils reach old age soon – the time when health concerns knock on the doors.
- Sometimes gerbil owners make mistakes while choosing the right bedding, food, or toy and end up with a sick pet.
- Gerbils are vulnerable to bacteria and parasites.
- Malnutrition is a common problem among gerbils.
Does gerbil healthcare cost a lot?
Well, it depends on the health condition at hand. Some common health risks that gerbils are prone to include the following:
Tyzzer’s Disease – $10-$20
It is a fatal infectious disease that’s common in gerbils. An infected gerbil might experience severe diarrhea, dehydration, depression, rough haircoat, and lack of appetite. The treatment requires antibiotic administration by a vet. Each antibiotic costs between $10 and $20.
Dental Issues – $20 to $50
A gerbil’s teeth are always growing. Overgrown chompers hurt and make eating a chore. The good thing is that you don’t always need a visit to the vet to make things better in this case. Just make sure your pet gerbil has enough chew toys to keep his teeth in shape.
Mites – $0 to $50
Mites, the bloodsucking demons, find their way to your pet’s skin through unsterilized bedding. If you keep your gerbil’s cage clean, there’s a high chance you won’t have to deal with them. Even if the infestation happens, you’ll get treatment from a pet shop. Luckily, it doesn’t cost much.
Scent Gland Removal – $150 to $400
Gerbils use scent glands to mark their territory. Male gerbils use it to attract females for mating. These glands are on a gerbil’s belly and are prone to cancerous tumors in old age. The only treatment is a scent gland removal surgery with anesthesia administration. The whole process can cost anywhere between $150 and $400.
Pro Tip: A male gerbil is more at risk of developing a tumor. Buy a female!
Please note that the cost of treatment varies from vet to vet. If you want exact figures, ask your doc.
Tips for Affordable Gerbil Ownership
As we said, the cheapest part of gerbil ownership is the gerbil himself. Cage setup and healthcare can swiftly add up. But no worries. If you’re on a budget, we have some tips for you on how to save money:
Buy in Bulk When You Can
Buying in bulk makes you a great candidate for discounts. Plus, you don’t have to worry about sudden price surges and frequent pet store runs.
Stay Away from Impulse Buys
It’s easy to get carried away when you see something cute and affordable. But don’t fall for the trap. There are plenty of free things gerbils can play with, so there is no need to buy fancy (and expensive) items.
DIY Your Way Out
DIY toys and tunnels are budget-friendly alternatives to store-bought ones. Plus, it’s fun to make stuff yourself! You can even get creative with your gerbil cage setup – from fabric pockets as bedding to homemade tubes.
Get Pet Insurance
Investing in pet insurance can help you save a lot on vet bills. It’ll cost you $60 per gerbil, which is a pretty good deal.
Regular Health Checks
An annual vet visit only costs $40 per gerbil. It’ll help detect any underlying conditions beforehand, thus saving you from spending additional bucks on expensive treatments.
Pet Ownership: Gerbil Edition
Getting a gerbil is no big deal. But it’s an investment for sure, from setting up a cozy home with all the essential supplies to feeding your gerbil the right food.
Also, let’s not forget those crucial vet visits. They can empty your pockets to the tune of $40 to $400.
But don’t give up on your gerbil dreams just yet. With smart and budget-friendly tips, you can become a pennywise gerbil parent! DIY toys and tunnels are great ways to save money. Plus, pet insurance is another way to cut down the vet bill costs.
Did you find the information in this article helpful?
At Oddly Cute Pets, we strive to keep our fellow rodent lovers updated on the latest gerbil trends. If you’re looking for more information on gerbil care, check out other articles on our website. We’re sure you’ll find something of use.
Ready to become a gerbil parent? We believe you can do it in style. Good luck!