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Hamster vs Gerbil: A Comprehensive Comparison

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When choosing a small pet, hamsters and gerbils are among the most popular. These adorable creatures have unique qualities that make them endearing companions for pet owners of all ages. In this article, we’ll discuss the major points when choosing between a hamster vs gerbil. Additionally, we will explore their similarities, differences, and all the essential information you need to know before bringing one of these furry friends into your home.

Hamster vs Gerbil – At A Glance

SpeciesVariousMongolian Gerbil
Lifespan2-3 years (depending on species)2-4 years
BehaviorMore solitary and territorialSociable and enjoy living in groups
Nocturnal or DiurnalNocturnalDiurnal
Exercise NeedsModerateHigh
GroomingFrequent grooming neededSelf-grooming habits
Biting TendencyCan bite when stressedGenerally docile and rarely bite
Cage SetupNeed a solid-bottom cagePrefer a tank or aquarium with bedding
DietOmnivores (seeds, fruits, vegetables, insects)Herbivores (seeds, grains, vegetables)

Hamster vs Gerbil: What Sets Them Apart?

To truly understand the characteristics and qualities of hamsters and gerbils, let’s closely examine their differences and similarities.

Understanding Hamsters


Hamster vs Gerbil: Hamsters in Focus

Hamsters are small, nocturnal rodents that belong to the Cricetidae family. They come in various species, including the Syrian, Roborovski, Campbell’s, Winter White, and Chinese hamsters. These tiny creatures are popular pets due to their cute appearance and low maintenance requirements.

Appearance and Size

Hamsters typically have a stocky build with short legs and a small tail. Their size varies depending on different species. For example, Syrian hamsters are the largest at about 6 to 7 inches long, and dwarf hamsters measure around 2 to 4 inches.

Behaviour and Temperament

A balanced diet for hamsters includes commercial hamster pellets, fresh fruits and veggies, and treats occasionally. 

You also can give some fresh fruits and vegetables like carrots, broccoli, apples, and leafy greens in small amount. It will add some extra sourcec of vitamins and fibre.

Dietary Needs

Being omnivores, hamsters have diverse dietary needs. They enjoy a diet that includes seeds and fruavoid things. It’s essential to provide a balanced diet to keep your hamster healthy and happy.

Exercise and Enrichment

Hamsters have moderate exercise needs, and providing them with a hamster wheel, tunnels, and chew toys can help keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

Lifespan and Health Considerations

Hamsters typically have a lifespan of around 2-3 years, although some may live up to 4 years with proper care.

Socialization and Compatibility with Other Pets

Hamsters are usually solitary animals that might not get along well with other pets. They are very protective, and if they are close to other animals, they can get stressed out or even attack them. Most of the time, it’s best to keep hamsters away from other pets to keep them safe and healthy.

Getting to Know Gerbils

Hamster vs Gerbil – Gerbils in Focus


Gerbils are small rodents native to arid regions and are part of the Gerbillinae subfamily. The most common species kept as pets is the Mongolian gerbil.

Appearance and Size

Gerbils have a long, slender body with a furry tail that is longer than their body. On average, they measure around 4 inches in body length, and their tail adds 3 to 4 inches.

Behavior and Temperament

Unlike hamsters, gerbils enjoy living in pairs or groups and can thrive in a same-sex community. They are seldom aggressive and rarely bite.

Dietary Needs and Feeding Habits

Gerbils have certain food needs that must be met for their health to be at its best. Their main food should be good-quality gerbil treats, which give them important nutrients like protein, fibre, fats, and carbs.

Moreover, it is important not to give them things like chocolate or caffeine that are poisonous or bad for their digestive system.

Exercise and Enrichment

Gerbils are highly active and curious creatures that require ample opportunities for exercise. Providing them with a large tank or aquarium filled with bedding, tunnels, and hideouts can keep them engaged and content.

Lifespan and Health Considerations

Gerbils have a slightly longer lifespan of around 3-4 years. Pet owners must know these lifespans when bringing home a hamster or gerbil as a pet.

Socialization and Compatibility with Other Pets

Gerbils are more friendly animals that can live with other pets. But you should still be careful when making contacts. Gerbils have a strong desire to hunt and might see mice or birds as food. Gerbils should only play with other pets if they are closely watched to ensure nothing bad happens.

Which One Makes the Ideal Pet?

Factors to Consider: Hamster vs Gerbil

When deciding between a hamster and a gerbil, several factors come into play. Understanding the needs and behaviours of both animals can help you make an informed decision.

Solitude or Sociability

If you’re looking for a pet, Several factors come into play when it can thrive independently and require less good choice. However, gerbils are the ideal pick if you want an interactive and sociable pet that enjoys companionship.

Cage Setup

Hamsters need cages with solid bottoms to prevent injury and provide a suitable environment for burrowing. Conversely, Gerbils prefer a tank or aquarium with ample bedding for digging and tunnelling.

Activity Level

Gerbils are incredibly active during the day, which makes them ideal for owners who enjoy observing their pets in action. Hamsters, being nocturnal, maybe less visible during daylight hours.


A gerbil might be the better option if you desire a longer companionship, as they typically live longer than most hamster species.

Gerbil vs Hamster Care Tips

Whether you choose a hamster or a gerbil, they need proper care.

  1. Proper Housing: Ensure your pet has a suitable cage or tank that meets their needs.
  2. Nutritious Diet: A balanced diet with fresh fruits, vegetables, and high-quality seeds or grains.
  3. Regular Exercise: Provide toys and opportunities for physical activity to keep your pet engaged and active.
  4. Socialization (for Gerbils): If you opt for gerbils, house them in pairs or groups to prevent loneliness.
  5. Hygiene and Cleanliness: Regularly clean the cage and replace bedding to maintain a hygienic environment.
  6. Veterinary Care: Schedule regular check-ups with a qualified veterinarian to monitor your pet’s health.

FAQs about Hamsters and Gerbils

Q: Can hamsters and gerbils live together?

A: No, it is not advisable to house hamsters and gerbils together. They have different social needs and may fight or injure each other.

Q: Are hamsters better for children?

A: Hamsters can be suitable for children, but adult supervision is necessary to ensure proper handling and care.

Q: How often should I clean the cage?

A: Clean the cage once a week for hamsters and more frequently for gerbils, as they tend to be messier.

Q: Can I keep a single gerbil, or should I get more?

A: Gerbils are social animals and prefer living in pairs or groups for companionship.

Q: Are hamsters escape artists?

A: Yes, hamsters are known for their ability to escape from cages if they find weaknesses or openings.

Q: What’s the lifespan of a gerbil?

A: Gerbils typically live between 2 to 4 years, depending on their care and genetics.


In the ultimate battle of hamster vs gerbil, the choice is yours. These small furry creatures have unique qualities and characteristics that make them lovable pets.

A hamster might be the perfect choice if you are looking for a low-maintenance pet that doesn’t require much space.

On the other hand, if you prefer a more sociable and interactive pet, a gerbil might be the better option. Gerbils are highly social animals that thrive in pairs or small groups. They enjoy human interaction and can be trained to perform tricks or walk on a leash.

Whether you choose a hamster or a gerbil as your furry friend, both will bring joy and companionship into your life.