how to tell a gerbils age

Have you ever wondered how big your gerbil really is? Do you want to know its age to provide appropriate care and nurture? Or perhaps you’re thinking of finding a companion for it to have cute little babies? If these thoughts cross your mind, then you need to learn how to determine the age of your gerbil.

Gerbils are adorable small rodents, with a lifespan typically ranging from 2 to 4 years, equivalent to 20 to 40 human years. Different gerbil breeds may have varying lifespans, but generally, they go through three stages: infancy, adulthood, and old age. During these stages, gerbils undergo physiological changes that can be observed to determine their age.

Determining the Age of Gerbils in Their Infancy

The infancy stage of gerbils lasts approximately up to 6 weeks after birth, during which their age can be judged based on several aspects:

Body size: The size of a gerbil is directly proportional to its age. Smaller gerbils are younger. Typically, newborn gerbils weigh between 2 to 3 grams and measure 3 to 4 centimeters in length. By the age of 6 weeks, their weight increases to 30 to 40 grams, and their length grows to 8 to 10 centimeters.

Fur development: Gerbils are born without fur, and their skin appears pink with visible blood vessels. As they age, fur gradually grows, becoming darker. By the third day, gerbils develop fuzz, by the seventh day, primary fur, and by the fourteenth day, complete fur similar to that of adult gerbils.

Mobility: Newborn gerbils are immobile and rely on their mother’s care. With age, their mobility improves, starting to walk around on the tenth day, running on the eighteenth day, and jumping on the twenty-first day.

Eyes and ears opening time: Gerbils are born with closed eyes and ears. Eyes open around the fourteenth day, and ears open around the sixteenth day.

Weaning process: Gerbils rely on maternal milk for survival during the first three weeks after birth, gradually transitioning to solid foods. Weaning starts around the twenty-first day and completes by the twenty-eighth day.

Determining the Age of Adult Gerbils

The adulthood stage of gerbils begins around 6 weeks after birth, lasting until halfway through their lifespan. It’s challenging to distinguish the age of adult gerbils, but certain aspects can be considered:

Changes in body size and weight: Adult gerbils tend to have stable body sizes and weights, ranging from 60 to 120 grams and 12 to 16 centimeters in length. Significant changes may indicate dietary or health issues.

Fur texture: As gerbils age, their fur becomes rougher and drier, and its color lightens. This change becomes noticeable in the second year, progressing to sparse and brittle fur in the third year.

Molting process: Gerbils undergo molting twice a year, in spring and autumn, adjusting their fur to seasonal changes. Molting results in uneven fur, lasting about two to three weeks.

Body changes related to gender and reproduction: Males generally have larger body sizes than females, while females experience size increases during pregnancy and lactation.

Characteristics of Gerbils in Old Age

Gerbils enter their old age phase around the halfway point of their lifespan until their death. Aging gerbils exhibit distinct signs of aging, such as:

Alopecia (hair loss): Gerbils in old age experience hair loss due to degeneration of hair follicles. Hair loss progresses from local areas in the first year to complete baldness by the third year.

Decrease in muscle mass: Aging gerbils undergo a gradual reduction in muscle mass, impacting their activity levels. This decline becomes more pronounced in the second and third years.

Relationship between diseases and age: The aging process weakens the immune system, making gerbils more susceptible to diseases like infections, tumors, arthritis, and dental issues. Disease incidence increases significantly in the second and third years, affecting their quality of life.

Challenges in Determining Gerbil Age

While observing physiological features helps estimate gerbil age, it’s not entirely accurate due to variations in growth rates, aging, and the influence of factors like diet, environment, and health. Challenges in determining age include:

Difficulty in determining adult gerbil age: Adult gerbils show less obvious physiological changes, making it challenging to estimate their age accurately. Consideration of factors like breed, gender, and reproductive status is essential.

Reliance on seller-provided information: Accurate age determination requires knowing the gerbil’s birthdate, often unavailable or unreliable from sellers. Observing physiological features during purchase is crucial to selecting healthy gerbils.


Through this article, you should have learned how to estimate the age of gerbils by observing their physiological features. This knowledge is valuable for providing appropriate care, finding companions, and assessing their health. However, keep in mind that this method has limitations and challenges, so a comprehensive approach considering other factors is necessary for a more accurate judgment.

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