Habits: Mongolian gerbils are not nocturnal although they are sometimes active at night; they go through several sleep/active cycles in the course of 24 hours. They are very curious and will explore anything, and can be quite entertaining. To get a better understanding of gerbils, see Gerbil Behavior.

The best type of cage for these clever and very active creatures is one that is large enough for them to jump and leap around which they love doing. However, the cage needs to be robust and well made, because like all other gerbils, they are very capable of chewing their way out if the bars are not strong enough to keep them in.

When a few of them start pounding the ground with their hind legs, it can be very amusing. This “thumping” is all part of the way in which they communicate with each other!

Gerbils are social animals, and live in groups in the wild.[4] They rely on their sense of smell to identify other members of their clan, so it is important to use what is commonly referred to as the "split tank method" when introducing gerbils from separate litters[citation needed]. Gerbils are known to attack and often kill those carrying an unfamiliar scent.[5]

The Mongolian gerbil, a gentle and hardy animal, has become a popular pet. It was first brought from China to Paris, France in the 19th century, and became a popular house pet.[6] It was then brought to the United States in 1954 by Dr. Victor Schwentker for use in research.[3] Selective breeding for the pet trade has resulted in a wide range of different color and pattern varieties.[7]

red dot - Sourced from Mammalian Species No.3. Meriones unguiculatus - E.F.Gulotta.

Jack Chen (author), University of California, Irvine, Rudi Berkelhamer (editor), University of California, Irvine.

During meiosis male Mongolian gerbils do not interchange reciprocal alleles between pairs of homologous chromosomes ("chiasmata" or "Crossing Over"), a trait very rare in eutherian mammals and indeed animals in general. Meiotic recombination occurs in females alone.

Important! Never pick up a gerbil by the tail.

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Nest BoxGerbils need a nest box to feel secure; they will hide out in it and use if for sleeping. A sturdy wood or ceramic nest box is preferable to plastic since the plastic will quickly be destroyed by chewing. The wood will likely get chewed to but tends to last a little longer. Clay flower pots are another possible choice.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Grants DRL 0089283, DRL 0628151, DUE 0633095, DRL 0918590, and DUE 1122742. Additional support has come from the Marisla Foundation, UM College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, Museum of Zoology, and Information and Technology Services.

Gerbils are typically between six and twelve inches (150 and 300 mm) long, including the tail, which makes up about one-half of their total length. One species, the great gerbil, or Rhombomys opimus, originally native to Turkmenistan, can grow to more than 16 inches (410 mm). The average adult gerbil weighs about 2.5 ounces (71 g).

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

In the article Gulotta mentions the ranges of several subspecies which are now regarded today by taxonomists as synonyms for M.unguiculatus, The area marked with * was the River Kobdo as this region, unlike the others mentioned for 'subspecies' was distinct, and wasn't overlapped by the further expeditions.

The best diet for these little creatures is a specifically formulated gerbil complete mix, but they also need to be given a small amount of fresh fruit and vegetables which are suitable for their species. It's best to offer them a special treat from time to time rather than too often because sugary things are not that good for them and could result in them having an upset digestive system.

Misalignment of incisors due to injury or malnutrition may result in overgrowth, which can cause injury to the roof of the mouth. Symptoms include a dropped or loss of appetite, drooling, weight loss, or foul breath.[11] The teeth must be clipped by a veterinarian regularly for as long as required.

There are many species of gerbils, though the Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus) is the species of gerbil most commonly kept as a pet. They belong to the family of the Cricetidae (burrowing rodents) and are naturally adapted to desert environments in Africa, India and Asia. Why not view our full Gerbil factfile (PDF 44KB). 

M.unguiculatus kurauchii (Morisson - Scott 1928) This particular subspecies was restricted to regions within Manchuria

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About 50% of Mongolian gerbils also display an epileptic faint when under stress which might serve as a way to play dead in the wild. This characteristic has proven very useful to researchers of epilepsy and related illnesses.

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Temperament: being social creatures, gerbils can become quite tame. They generally have a pretty agreeable temperament and are generally only inclined to bite if feeling threatened.

The records of the various expeditions mentioned in this article are listed clockwise starting with Manchuria (Manzhouli.) Some place names have been updated (in brackets) when necessary.

Mongolian Gerbil

The most common infectious disease in gerbils is Tyzzer's disease, a bacterial disease, which stress can make animals more susceptible to. It produces symptoms such as ruffled fur, lethargy, hunched posture, poor appetite, diarrhoea, and often death. It quickly spreads between gerbils in close contact.[14]

Just like all other rodents, the Mongolian's teeth grow continuously which means they need to wear down as naturally as possible. The best way to achieve this is to make sure your pets have plenty of good quality chewy toys and treats to gnaw on.

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

Chifeng in Jehol- T.Mori 1939- Mammalia of Jehol and district North of it. Rept. First science expedition.

Gerbils can lose their tails due to improper handling, being attacked by another animal, or getting their tails stuck. The first sign is a loss of fur from the tip of the tail, then, the skinless tail dies off and sloughs, with the stump usually healing without complications.[14]

*Transbaikal is a mountainous region to the east of or 'beyond' (trans-) Lake Baikal in Russia. It stretches for almost 1000km from north to south from the Patomskoye and north Baikal table-lands to the Russian state border. The Transbaikal region covers more than 1000 km from west to east from Lake Baikal to the meridian of the confluence of the Shilka and Argun rivers.

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Tumors, both benign and malignant, are fairly common in pet gerbils, and are most common in females over the age of two. Usually, the tumors involve the ovaries, causing an extended abdomen, or the skin, with tumors most often developing around the ears, feet, midabdomen, and base of the tail, appearing as a lump or abscess.[14] The scent gland (positioned on the abdomen) should be checked regularly; a veterinarian can operate on the lump where possible.[16]

Read our expert reviewed pet care information to find out more about the needs of gerbils: Environment, Diet, Behaviour, Company, and Health and welfare.

Nesting material that the gerbils can shred and use to line their nests is also a good idea. The nesting material sold in pet stores is not ideal for this as little feet can get entangled in the strands. It is better to use simple white facial tissue which you can shred into strips for the gerbils, or paper towels and/or grass hay.

Currently recognized colour morphs and their genetic basis are described below.[9]

M. unguiculatus unguiculatus (syn. Chihfengensis) - according to research conducted by Ellerman and Morisson - Scott 1951, this subspecies occupied all the ranges mentioned above except those located around Manchuria.

Research conducted by Bobrinskoy, B.Kuznetzov, and A.Kuzyakin in 1965 mention the following locations for two more subspecies, again these are now regarded as synonyms for M.unguiculatus. They are,

TamingGenerally, frequent handling will keep a gerbil quite tame. If all else fails, bribery with sunflower seeds can help make a gerbil more amenable to handling. For more on handling gerbils see "Taming and Handling Gerbils."