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Should I Get a Gerbil Or A Rat?

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.

Customer Images


Thomas, 20 January 2024

I'm not sure rats are smarter than gerbils. But rats will certainly do more with the effort that you put in to try to train them. I brought over 100,000 rats maybe 50,000 mice hundred and hundred and hundreds of pictures hundreds of hamsters soft African furry my I had hairless mice true hairless rats not the ones that are out today I invented the half and half rat which is now called a cap I started that 1973. I had 300 to 400 pages of rats alone at one time when I was a young man back in the very very early 70s. So I have lots of experience. Rats are great pets but they're on the medium range for peeing so you have to do a certain amount of cleaning. Gerbils are a desert animal so their body absorbs almost all of that moisture that they drink they also drink for less water so the cage does not get a stinky they do not have a musty smell

Sheba, 3 August 2023

I love my gerbils!

Christine, 27 November 2018

The omelet cage is absolutely perfect but we have 2 rats and a bunny. How come nobody makes this type of enclosure for them? I enjoy our pets but the bedding and poo is soooooo messy. I love the idea of the plastic/glass enclosure with separate exercising area. Can you PLEASE make something for me.