how to bond gerbils

How to Bond with Gerbils

Gerbils are incredibly cute and intelligent small animals with rich emotions and social needs. They require care and companionship from humans if you want to establish a close relationship with them, where they trust you and enjoy your touch and playtime. To achieve this, it’s essential to understand gerbil behavior and characteristics and learn how to interact with them correctly. In this article, I’ll introduce you to some methods and techniques for fostering a strong bond with gerbils, helping you and your gerbil become the best of friends.

Tips for When You First Bring Home Gerbils
When you bring gerbils home from a pet store or adoption center, you may be eager to bond with them immediately. However, it’s crucial to give them time to adapt to their new environment. Gerbils are sensitive and timid creatures, and they may feel scared and nervous in a new place with unfamiliar people. Avoid interacting with them right away; instead, let them quietly explore and familiarize themselves with their cage and surroundings. Provide toys and bedding they like in the cage to create a sense of security and comfort. Also, place some gerbil food and water outside the cage, showing them you’re a friendly and generous presence. Don’t force-feed them; let them choose whether to eat. Naming your gerbils on the first day can give them a sense of belonging and help them remember your voice. Speak to them gently every day, allowing them to gradually get used to your presence, but avoid sudden loud noises or movements. Generally, give gerbils at least a week to adapt before starting interactions.

Initial Interaction with Gerbils
Frequent presence near gerbils helps them acclimate to your existence. During their active times, such as mornings or evenings, sit near the cage, read a book, or use your phone. Allow gerbils to sense your breath and warmth without staring at them. Occasionally speak to them with a soft tone, sharing your name, praising their cuteness and intelligence, or discussing unrelated topics to familiarize them with your voice and tone. Once you sense gerbils showing interest, attempt to converse with them. Say “hello” or use their names when making eye contact, smiling if possible. If gerbils respond positively with purring sounds or approaching you, continue the conversation. If there’s no response or signs of fear or annoyance, give them space and time without pushing for a reaction.

Avoid prolonged eye contact with gerbils. While eye contact is a good communication method, gerbils may perceive staring at their eyes as a threat. Instead, use a sideways glance or occasionally blink to convey friendliness and trust. Gently scratch their heads or backs with your fingers to let them feel your gentleness without pointing fingers or pressing your palms, which might induce fear.

Actively Cultivating the Relationship with Gerbils
Gerbils are intelligent animals that can discern your intentions and emotions through your actions and voice. To gain their trust, initiate contact actively. Here are some methods to try:

Trust-building through feeding
Gerbils are curious and enjoy exploring new things, especially food. Utilize this by offering treats like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Place the food in your palm, allowing gerbils to take it, gradually getting them accustomed to your scent and touch. Use treats to reward good behavior, like returning to the cage, or performing simple actions, associating you with joy and enhancing their learning abilities.

Lure gerbils closer and onto your hand with small treats
If your gerbils are still hesitant or reluctant to be held, entice them with small treats. Place some treats on your fingertips, allowing gerbils to sniff or gently nibble. Gradually move your fingers toward your palm, letting gerbils follow. This method helps them overcome fear and become accustomed to the shape and weight of your hand. Use treats to guide gerbils to jump from one hand to another or even onto your shoulder, strengthening trust and interaction.

Patience is key; avoid forcing gerbils
Gerbils are sensitive, and they can sense your emotions and stress. To build trust, provide them with ample time and space to decide if they want to get close. Avoid pressuring them into activities they might not like, such as forcing them to play outside the cage or interact with other gerbils. Respect their personalities and preferences, allowing them to feel understood and respected. Pay attention to gerbil body language and sounds; if they seem uncomfortable or frightened, like teeth grinding, raised fur, or squeaking, immediately stop the activity, let them calm down, or return them to the cage. Remember, building a relationship with gerbils is a gradual process that requires patience and love.

Techniques for Picking Up Gerbils
Handle gerbils with your palms, avoiding fingers. Gerbil bones are fragile, so refrain from pinching their bodies or poking their eyes or nose. Cradle their chest and front legs with one palm while supporting their hind legs and tail with the other, providing a sense of safety and comfort. Alternatively, cup your palm to contain the entire gerbil body, allowing them to curl up comfortably.

Handle gerbils securely to prevent falls. Gerbils can be energetic and might unexpectedly jump out of your hands or slip from your shoulder or head. Avoid placing them at heights that may cause injury, ensuring steady and secure handling. Hold gerbils against your chest or abdomen, avoiding lifting them too high or placing them on your back or legs. Pay attention to their movements; if they attempt to jump, catch them promptly or let them land on a soft surface like a sofa, bed, or blanket.

Avoid pulling gerbil tails. Gerbil tails are essential for balance and communication. Refrain from pulling or tugging their tails, as it may cause pain and fear, possibly resulting in tail injuries. Only touch their tails if they voluntarily place them on your hand or if you need to clean them.

Other Factors Influencing Gerbil Relationship Building
Your own emotional state
Gerbils are perceptive animals that can pick up on your mood and emotions. Maintain a pleasant and harmonious mindset when interacting with gerbils. Smile at them, speak gently and kindly, and create an atmosphere of love and care. Engage in playful activities with gerbils to alleviate your stress, ensuring both you and the gerbils experience relaxation and joy.

Gerbil age and size
Gerbil age and size play a role in their relationship with you. Generally, younger gerbils are more open to building trust as they are curious, active, and haven’t formed fixed habits and personalities. If you start interacting with gerbils from a young age, they will view you as a friend and family member, fostering trust and dependency. Older gerbils may be more challenging to build trust with, as they already have established preferences and habits. If building a relationship with older gerbils, invest more time and effort, allowing them to gradually adapt to your presence. Respect their individuality and needs, avoiding insistence on activities they don’t enjoy.

Handling procedures and approaches
Gerbils thrive on routine and habits, preferring to live according to their rhythms. When building a relationship, pay attention to your handling procedures and approaches, ensuring they feel comfortable and reassured. Interact with them during their active times, in familiar environments like their cage or with their toys. Maintain a consistent tone of voice, offering treats and gentle touches to strengthen positive associations. If you need to clean their cage or move them to a new environment, do so gradually, allowing them to adapt without excessive stress. Over time, gerbils will associate you with positive experiences, deepening the bond between you and your little companions.

Final Thoughts
Building a strong bond with gerbils requires time, patience, and a genuine love for these adorable creatures. By understanding their behavior, respecting their preferences, and actively engaging with them, you can establish a relationship built on trust, love, and mutual understanding. Be consistent, gentle, and attentive, and your gerbils will reward you with affection, playfulness, and companionship for years to come. Remember, every gerbil is unique, so tailor your approach to their individual personalities and needs. Enjoy the journey of forming a deep and lasting connection with your gerbil friends!

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