The word gerbil (pronounced jer-bill) is thought to come from the word ‘jerboa’, an Arabic word used to describe a different little rodent desert species. A jerboa is a small animal with very long legs, huge ears, and a lengthy tail. Some look a little like a mouse with kangaroo legs and rabbit ears! It’s a very strange-looking animal, but they are very cute. They are a nocturnal species that bounds around the desert on its long legs.
The term 'gerbil' is probably from the word 'jerboa'
Although these animals live in similar habitats, they are very distinct animal groups. Gerbils lack the kangaroo-like legs of the jerboa, as well as the long, rabbity ears. Neither are they as speedy as jerboa, who can run from predators extremely quickly on their long, springy legs.