do gerbils like humans

Do Sand Gerbils Like Humans?

To understand the social characteristics of sand gerbils, their interaction with humans, recognition abilities, the process of establishing a connection with humans, emotional expressions towards humans, individual differences, and how to enhance the relationship between sand gerbils and humans, we need to explore various aspects. In this article, based on my experience of raising sand gerbils for many years and scientific research, I will share my perspectives and suggestions on this matter.

Social Characteristics of Sand Gerbils

Sand gerbils are highly social animals that typically form family groups in the wild, consisting of one male and one or more females living together in an underground burrow system, providing mutual care and protection.

Social behaviors among sand gerbils include mutual grooming, sniffing each other, playing together, and communication through various means such as vocalizations, scents, body postures, and facial expressions. Sand gerbils use different sounds like squeaks, chirps, coos, and purrs to express their emotions, intentions, and needs.

They also mark their territory, companions, and food sources through scent glands, tail movements, ear positions, mouth openings, and nose wrinkles, displaying their emotions, attitudes, and signals.

In a domestic setting, sand gerbils maintain their social habits, requiring sufficient space, toys, and companions to meet their social needs. It’s ideal to keep sand gerbils in pairs or groups to prevent loneliness and boredom. Companion relationships among sand gerbils are stable and intimate, involving activities like sleeping, playing, and food sharing.

Once established, companion relationships are challenging to change, introducing a new gerbil to an existing group may lead to conflicts and harm among them. Therefore, introducing a new companion when they are young or using gradual methods is recommended.

Interaction Between Sand Gerbils and Humans

The interaction between sand gerbils and humans involves their attitudes, reactions, and adaptability. Sand gerbils generally exhibit friendly, curious, and trusting attitudes towards humans. They actively approach humans, seeking attention, and enjoying being petted and played with.

Their responses to humans are positive, lively, and optimistic, expressed through sounds, scents, body postures, and facial expressions. Common behaviors during interaction include tapping on the glass or cage to indicate a desire to play or get food, gently nibbling fingers to express curiosity or affection, tail wagging to show excitement, ear-raising to signal alertness or curiosity, mouth opening to indicate threat, fear, or displeasure, nose wrinkling to express discomfort, displeasure, or annoyance, and eye blinking to show relaxation, comfort, or drowsiness.

Recognition Abilities of Sand Gerbils Towards Humans

The ability of sand gerbils to recognize different humans relies on their keen sense of smell and hearing. They can distinguish individuals by scent and react differently to familiar and unfamiliar humans.

Their responses to familiar humans are warm, intimate, and loyal. Upon hearing a familiar voice, they wake up or stop playing, rushing to the cage door, waiting for interaction. When they see a familiar person, they express excitement, wag their tails, raise their ears, open their mouths, welcoming and inviting the interaction.

Process of Building a Connection with Sand Gerbils

The process of building a connection with sand gerbils involves their adaptation to a new environment and humans. This process takes time due to their sensitive and cautious nature. It can be divided into three stages:

Initial Stage: Sand gerbils are initially nervous and fearful in a new environment. They may hide in corners, emit warning sounds, wag their tails, and open their mouths to express fear and distrust. This stage can last from days to weeks.

Adaptation Stage: Sand gerbils gradually adapt to the new environment, exploring and showing curiosity. They may still be cautious and reluctant to be touched, expressing curiosity through sounds, scent investigation, and gentle nibbling. This stage can last weeks to months.

Full Adaptation Stage: Sand gerbils fully adapt to the environment, actively approaching humans, seeking attention, and enjoying interaction. They express trust, dependence, and affection through sounds, tail wagging, and open-mouth gestures. This stage can last throughout their lives.

Building Trust with Sand Gerbils

To establish trust with sand gerbils, it’s crucial to:

Respect and understand their individual personalities, needs, and preferences. Avoid forcing or punishing them and find a balance to make them comfortable and content.

Provide a safe, comfortable, and engaging environment with a spacious, clean, and well-ventilated cage, sufficient food, water, and toys. Regularly clean their cage and replace supplies for a fresh and enjoyable experience.

Maintain consistent, quality interactions with them. Spend time talking, petting, and playing with them daily, allowing them to explore and exercise weekly, and conducting regular check-ups, nail trimming, and bathing monthly.

Emotional Expressions of Sand Gerbils Towards Humans

Sand gerbils express their emotions towards humans through sounds, scents, body postures, and facial expressions. They convey happiness, excitement, satisfaction, and comfort through squeaks, chirps, coos, and purrs. Conversely, discomfort, displeasure, and unhappiness are expressed through hisses, squeals, and growls.

Scent marking signifies attachment, intimacy, and sharing, while urine and feces marking may indicate discomfort, distrust, and rejection. Body postures like tail wagging, ear-raising, and mouth opening convey excitement, happiness, and invitation. On the other hand, huddled bodies, drooped ears, and wrinkled noses indicate fear, pain, and anger.

Behavioral Changes of Sand Gerbils in Human Company

Sand gerbils exhibit significant and meaningful behavioral changes in the presence of humans compared to when left alone. They display more vitality, curiosity, and friendliness during human interaction.

Changes in behavior include increased activity levels, exploration, and interaction with the environment. They use sounds, scents, body postures, and facial expressions to express excitement, happiness, and invitation.

Their increased curiosity leads to more learning, intelligence, and creativity. They learn human rules, habits, and expectations, and may invent new play styles and engage with toys. They express exploration, experimentation, and testing through sounds and gestures.

Friendliness is heightened, with increased closeness, trust, and affection towards humans. They actively approach, seek attention, and enjoy being petted and played with. They share food, toys, and burrows, expressing welcome, anticipation, and invitation.

In conclusion, understanding and respecting the social nature of sand gerbils, recognizing their unique behaviors, and building trust through proper interaction contribute to a positive and enriching relationship between sand gerbils and humans. By following these principles and methods, individuals can create a fulfilling and harmonious companionship with these delightful animals.

Individual Differences in Gerbils

The individual differences in gerbils primarily depend on factors such as genetics, experiences, and the environment. These elements can influence various aspects of gerbils, including their physical, psychological, and behavioral traits, resulting in differences in their personalities, needs, and preferences.

Personality in gerbils refers to their character, temperament, and habits. These aspects impact their emotions, intentions, and attitudes, leading to differences in their reactions, interactions, and expressions. Gerbil personalities can be categorized into several types, such as:

Energetic Type: These gerbils are highly active, curious, and brave. They enjoy exploring, playing, and trying new things. They show interest, trust, and affection towards humans, actively seeking attention and enjoying human interaction, expressing excitement, happiness, and invitation through sounds, scents, body postures, and facial expressions.

Quiet Type: This type of gerbil is calm, cautious, and introverted. They prefer stability, hiding, and observing their surroundings. While showing some curiosity towards humans, they remain vigilant and may resist being picked up or touched. They express exploration, attempts, and testing through sounds, scents, body postures, and facial expressions.

Playful Type: Gerbils of this type are playful, intelligent, and creative. They enjoy manipulating, imitating, and inventing new ways to play and interact. They display affection, dependency, and reciprocation towards humans, actively mirroring human actions, imitating human sounds, and nibbling on fingers to express curiosity, affection, and interaction.

Temperamental Type: This type of gerbil is moody, sensitive, and capricious. They seek freedom, control, and undivided attention from humans. Expressing dissatisfaction, protest, and demands, they may pat the cage and vocalize displeasure, wrinkling their noses to convey protest, reluctance, and pleading.

Respecting, understanding, and adapting to individual differences in gerbils is essential. Humans should avoid generalizations or imposing their will on gerbils. Interaction, communication, and expression with gerbils should be tailored to their personalities, needs, and preferences. This enhances the relationship, interaction, and expression between gerbils and humans.

How to Improve the Relationship Between Gerbils and Humans

Recommendation 1: Provide gerbils with rewards, encouragement, and praise to increase their trust, dependence, and affection towards humans. Offer favorite foods, toys, and gentle petting as rewards for good behavior. Provide warmth, comfort, and support to encourage their progress. Use smiles, hugs, and kisses to praise their cuteness.

Recommendation 2: Offer gerbils challenges, stimulation, and variety to enhance their vitality, curiosity, and friendliness. Introduce new, interesting, and challenging games, toys, and activities to stimulate their intelligence. Create diverse, stimulating, and enjoyable environments, characters, and objects to excite their senses. Provide fresh, interesting food, water, and toys to change their daily routine.

Recommendation 3: Provide gerbils with space, time, and choices to increase their freedom, control, and satisfaction. Offer sufficient, safe, and enjoyable space for gerbils to run, explore, and play freely. Establish fixed, regular, and rhythmic schedules to align with their biological clock for sleeping, eating, and playing. Provide diverse, suitable, and interesting choices for gerbils to decide their food, toys, and companions.


Do gerbils like humans? This is an intriguing question and a concern for many gerbil owners. Based on my years of gerbil-raising experience and scientific research, I have shared my perspectives and recommendations on this issue.

I believe gerbils are animals that genuinely enjoy human company. They express affection, excitement, and satisfaction through sounds, scents, body postures, and facial expressions. In the presence of humans, gerbils exhibit increased energy, curiosity, and friendliness, showing more trust, dependence, and affection. However, individual differences exist among gerbils, influencing their preferences, reactions, and adaptability to humans. Therefore, it is crucial to respect and understand these individual differences.

Fostering a positive relationship with gerbils involves providing a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable environment, offering rewards, encouragement, and praise, presenting challenges, stimulation, and variety, and giving them space, time, and choices. By respecting their needs, preferences, and personalities, humans can enhance the relationship, interaction, and expression with gerbils.


Can gerbils get along with other animals?

Yes, gerbils can coexist with some other animals. However, it is essential to consider principles and methods to ensure a harmonious relationship. Choose animals that are similar to gerbils, such as other rodents like hamsters, rabbits, and guinea pigs, as they share similarities in body, psychology, and behavior. Avoid animals dissimilar to gerbils, like carnivores (cats, dogs, snakes), as they may pose threats or competition.

Can gerbils sleep with humans?

Gerbils can sleep with humans, but there are risks and considerations. Ensure that the sleep schedules align, as gerbils are crepuscular, active during dawn and dusk. Create a safe, quiet, and warm sleeping environment for gerbils, as they are sensitive animals. Make their sleep area comfortable and interesting, as gerbils need a cozy and engaging sleeping environment. Pay attention to their well-being and mood, as an unsafe or uncomfortable sleeping arrangement may affect their health and happiness.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and that it contributes to establishing a delightful relationship with gerbils.

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