Gerbils and rats are both very popular pets. In order to help you decide whether or not either of these potential pets is the best fit for you, we’ve included some of the key similarities and differences below.
Both gerbils and rats are very social animals, so they will need to be kept in pairs or groups - without company of members of their own species they will become very lonely and depressed.
Both species will bond with each other as well as their owners, but some people have reported that rats are able to form stronger bonds with specific people, perhaps even to the extent that cats and dogs are able.
Gerbils and rats are both born in a wide variety of colours, such as white and grey.
Gerbils and rats are pretty different animals - you'll need to carefully consider which fits you best
Rats are significantly bigger than gerbils, so will need a much bigger enclosure. Rats can be seven or eight inches long, so need a bigger space in which to thrive.
Whilst rats kept in captivity will live for about two to five years, gerbils are likely to live for between two to eight years. Both of these estimates depend on the species of rat or gerbil that you choose to keep.
Rats are avid climbers, whilst gerbils love tunnelling but aren’t great at climbing. Rats will need a very tall cage so that they can clamber around, whereas gerbils will need a deep layer of bedding to burrow in.
Rats are very social creatures, so will need to be brought out of their cage to be played with and exercised more frequently than gerbils - some charities recommend that these creatures should be able to stretch their legs outside of their cage for about an hour a day.