There are several different options when it comes to purchasing your gerbils, whether you decide to adopt them or buy them. To simplify things, we’ve split up the options and discussed each of them below - shops, shelters, and breeders.
We don’t advise purchasing your gerbils online, even if you go and pick them up yourself. When buying online, there’s no way of seeing the parents or getting an accurate picture of how the animals are being kept. If you are set on gerbils you’ve found online, we strongly advise that you don’t pay for them until you get there, at which point you can see the condition of the animals, the animals’ parents, and how well they are being kept. Please never expect that these animals can be posted or shipped without an enormous amount of danger and stress - you will need to always pick these animals up from wherever they are purchased from.
Once you've decided to look after some gerbils, the next step is figuring out where you're going to get them from
Shelters are fantastic places from which to get your pets, because the staff are enormously helpful and knowledgeable, as well as genuinely interested in the health and wellbeing of the animals in their care. These people have been looking after your prospective pets for a while - they probably know a lot about the animals, their needs, and their personalities.
The gerbils you’ll find in shelters are likely to already be very used to humans, and they will probably enjoy the time they spend interacting with the staff and visitors. By getting your pets from a shelter you can give these animals a lovely new home, and you will have some very knowledgeable people on hand to answer your questions.
Shelters take in unwanted and rescued animals. They are charities who save the lives of these little creatures, but they have a limited amount of money on which to operate on. Charging a small adoption fee allows them to get back some of the costs of keeping your pets, funds which they can then use to look after other animals that come in needing care.
Shelters are wonderful organisations to get your pets from
Some people choose to purchase their pets from shops, particularly if there are no shelters nearby. Picking up your pets from a shop can give you a wide choice of colours, but there are some things to be wary of when choosing your pets from these places.
Firstly, it’s a good idea to learn to identify gerbil genders before buying your pair. Lots of gerbils are sold in shops and their turnover rate is likely to be quite high, so shop assistants can lose track of which gerbils are which. It can be a big problem if you’re sold two gerbils of opposite genders, so you’ll want to be able to either get the assistant to double-check, or check yourself.
You’ll also want to be sure that the animals are being kept in good conditions. Is the enclosure large enough? Do all the gerbils look well? Do they have constant access to food and water? Is there a private space for them to burrow and nest in? If some of the gerbils look ill, then you might want to question why that is, and think twice about purchasing one from that shop.
Lots of shops will have a variety of colours of gerbil for you to choose from
Breeders are likely to be very knowledgeable about the pets that they provide, and they will probably be able to offer you a wide range of animals. Breeders can be very ethical, but some are more like gerbil farms. Prospective owners should be careful to avoid pet farms at all costs - these organisations do not have the best interests of the animals at heart, and they over-breed mothers so that the organisations can produce far too many litters in a short space of time. Some signs of farms include:
- Lots of pups available for sale at once
- Poor quality, overcrowded cages
- Individuals look ill
- The owner will not allow you to see the mother - or if they do, she looks ill or is already pregnant again
- Selling gerbils under five or six weeks of age
Whilst some breeders are very caring individuals, you need to be careful to find these, rather than unethical pet breeders.