Hamsters and gerbils are a very common choice for a first pet but their antics and easy care make them popular among experienced pet owners. Their care is fairly easy and they are among the least costly pets to own. Read on to learn a little more about these cute little guys.
The cute little hamster is definitely the poster child of small mammal pets. There are five types of hamster species available as pets. The most commonly kept is Syrian Hamster also called the Golden Hamster. The next most common is the smaller Campbell's or Dwarf Hamster followed in no particular order by the Chinese, Roborovski and Winter White or Russian Dwarf Hamsters.
Unlike many of the other small mammal pets hamsters, especially the Syrian Hamster aren't usually social animals especially when it comes to other hamsters and fights, sometimes fatal, are common if kept in a group. Hamsters like most other small mammal make more hamsters if a pair is kept. This along with their tendency to fight definitely makes keeping more than one together not the best idea. Their long time popularity as pets has led to a variety of color and coat varieties being available along with a large amount of care information and specialized products.
There are several kinds of gerbils available along with their relatives the jirds and the less common degus. The type most commonly kept as a pet is the mongolian gerbil. The natural color of the gerbil is a tan body with dark eyes and a white belly however captive breeding has led to black, white, cream and mottled varieties with both dark and pink eyes being available.
Gerbils are social animals and tend to benefit from another gerbil to pal around with. However be aware that a pair of gerbils will almost certainly lead to more gerbils, let this be your guide on choosing males and females. They live around 3 to 4 years in captivity and are more active during the day than their stiffest competitor as pets the hamster.
Gerbils are escape artist by nature so they need to be caged securely for their own safety when not supervised. Gerbils are one of the less nippy small mammals but due to their small size they need to be handled correctly to avoid injury.
Their low cost, easy care requirements and shorter lifespan along with their generally non-aggressive demeanor make gerbils a frequent choice for younger owners old enough to practice proper handling techniques.