Gerbil vs Hamster 101: Everything You Need to Know!

Having a gerbil or a hamster as a pet can be a fun experience, but you need to know about both of them before that.

Before making the final decision, you need to know about the pros and cons of having both pets.

Are gerbils a good pet or a hamster? This question will be answered in this article.

If you want a pet shortly, then this article will help you in making a final decision.

Gerbil vs Hamster: Which is better, Hamster or Gerbil as a Pet?

SizeHamsters are known for their short stubby tails, noses, and legsGerbils have longer noses, tails, and hind legs
Average Lifespan2 to 3 years5 to 7 years
Average Weight17 to 35 g58 g
Height5.5 to 10.5 cm110 to 135 mm
NocturnalHamsters are nocturnalGerbils are not strictly nocturnal
Food HoardersHamsters are food hoardersGerbils don’t hoard food

Both gerbils and hamsters are popular pet choices, but one should know everything about an animal they are going to pet.

Here are some of the factors that one should look at before making any final decision.


Personality is one of the prominent factors that you should consider before petting any animal. Personality does include character and the habits of the pets, and how friendly they are.

Let’s start with Hamster. Hamsters are pretty slow and sluggish. This feature makes them easy to handle, even for kids too. They are a handy size and can be grasped quickly and securely in the palm of your hand.

On the downside, hamsters are prone to biting. But it is not that common. They only bite when they are scared, or something annoys them.

On the other hand, gerbils are quite the reverse of hamsters. They rarely bite, no matter what the situation is. Moreover, gerbils are fats and more active. They are more playful.

So, the decision is all yours! Instead, you want to pet a quiet pet or a more active one.

Ease of Care

Hamsters are pretty anti-social animals. Two of them can fight with each other, even sometimes to death. Moreover, breeding hamsters can be a challenging task.

On the other hand, gerbils are more gregarious. They mate best in the same sex, and they easily interact with one another. Here, we can say that hamsters are easy to keep if you want a quiet pet.

What is the significant difference between a hamster and a gerbil?

The significant difference between a hamster and a gerbil is the size. They both have different sizes. Hamsters are known for their short stubby tails, noses, and legs, while Gerbils have longer noses, tails, and hind legs.

However, another difference between both the pets is their socializing needs. Gerbils live in groups, while hamsters love to live alone.

Another big difference between both the animals is the sleeping pattern. Hamsters are nocturnal, while gerbils are diurnal.

How are gerbils different from hamsters?

Gerbils and hamsters are different from each in several ways. Both are rodents, but they differ in several ways. For instance, hamsters are more miniature than gerbils. Here are some of the significant factors that differentiate gerbils from hamsters:


The most significant difference between gerbils and hamsters is the tail. Gerbil’s tail is almost 4 inches long – as long as the rest of the body. However, Hamster’s tail is short and stubby.


Both gerbils and hamsters have a cute face, but they are not identical. A gerbil’s face and body are leaner. Their face is longer than hamsters that make them resemble a rat.

On the other hand, the Hamster’s face is rounder and broader. With its chubby cheeks, it can store food in its mouth. Moreover, it tends to be around a little ball of fluff, while the gerbil is more streamlined.


Both gerbils and hamsters have hind legs. Gerbil’s hind legs are more potent than Hamster’s. Larger feet and long legs make them a good jumper.

However, Hamster’s also have hind legs, but they can’t hop like hamsters.

Sleeping Habits

Both gerbils and hamsters have different sleeping patterns. A hamster will keep you awake the whole night by running on his wheel because they are nocturnal. They sleep all day and keep awake the whole night.

On the contrary, a gerbil sleeps at night and keeps awake during the day.

Pros and Cons of Having a Pet Hamster

Hamsters are cute little animals that potter in their cage and are fun to watch. They are small and delicate, that’s why they are more suitable for children. However, every animal has its pros and cons according to its personality.

Here are the pros and cons of having a pet hamster:

Hamsters are fun to watchHamsters only live for 2 to 4 years due to their short lifespan
They are curious and patient animalsHamsters don’t live very long
Hamsters don’t make noiseHamsters are pretty delicate to handle
They don’t take much spaceThey keep you awake at night if they live in your bedroom
Hamster’s don’t need walking
Hamsters are prone to biting
Hamsters are friendly
You can buy one hamster

Pros and Cons of Having a Pet Gerbil

Gerbils are rodents, and they are different from hamsters. Here are some pros and cons of having a gerbil as a pet.

Their sleep cycle matches with their ownerGerbils are not cuddly
Gerbils are low maintenance petsGerbils are very smaller
Gerbils don’t require very much spaceThey are escape pets
Gerbils are friendlyYou will need to buy two or more gerbils
Gerbils don’t need much out-of-cage timeThey could be a bit messy
They don’t smellYou should buy only pet gerbils of the same sex together
Gerbils don’t cost much to maintainYou may need to take them to the vet frequently
Gerbils come in several varieties to choose fromYou need to ensure that predators can’t get them
Gerbils are fun to watchGerbils sometimes drop their tails
You do not need to clean their cage very often as you would do for some other pets’
Gerbils are adorable
They all have fun personalities
Gerbils don’t usually bite

Gerbil vs Hamster Care

Gerbils and hamsters are different from each other in several ways. Therefore both pets need extra cares and attention.

Unlike some species of hamsters, gerbils can’t live alone. They are social animals, and they need a company to live a healthy life. In the wild, gerbils live in groups because they are social. For this reason, you need to take care of your gerbil.

On the other hand, hamsters don’t need any partner with them to live in a cage. However, hamsters also need extra attention and care as they need time to bond with their owner.

Gerbil vs Hamster Cage

Hamsters can be placed in a glass aquarium or wire cages that have solid bottoms. In this way, their cage will be easy to clean. Avoid any plastic sheet because your little Hamster will chew it.

On the other hand, gerbils should be placed in a glass or plastic aquarium with a secure mesh for airflow. Be sure to keep your gerbil’s home away from drafts and preferably near your household activities to keep them stimulated.

Do gerbils bond with their owners?

Yes, gerbils can bond with their owners at a given time. It all depends upon how their owner treats them. Gerbils are social pets who love to interact with their fellow partners and even with their owners.

However, if you mistreat your little pet, then it would not trust you. Just like hamsters, gerbils also need time to bond and get along with their owners. At first, when you take them home, they will be afraid a little bit. But with time, you will get along with your pet.

By spending a lot of time with your pet gerbil, they will feel that you are not a threat to them. In this way, they will get along with you.

Do hamsters bond with their owners?

Yes, hamsters also bond with their owner. But just like gerbils, they also need proper time, affection, and care. Hamsters are not that social; that’s why one needs to give proper time to get along with its pet Hamster.

If someone wants to bond with their pet Hamster, they should give proper time to their pet.

Are gerbils better than hamsters?

If someone asks me this question that is gerbils better than hamsters? My answer will be yes! Gerbils are better than Hamster in many ways. For me, the first reason is due to their lifespan. Hamsters have a short life span as compared to gerbils.

Moreover, gerbils are more friendly than hamsters. They are fun-loving, and also their sleep cycle matches with humans. This can be a plus point to have a gerbil as a pet.

Can gerbils die of loneliness?

No, gerbils don’t die directly from loneliness, but yes, they can die from other reasons caused by loneliness. However, you need a group of gerbils so they can groom each other. Here are some signs of a lonely gerbil:

  • They may start to become quieter
  • They may seem disinterested in activities
  • They become lazier
  • They stay inside their cage more often
  • They may start losing their appetite

Do gerbils bite more than hamsters?

No, gerbils don’t bite frequently. As compared with hamsters, gerbils don’t bite. This is one of the factors where hamsters are better than gerbils.

Gerbils even don’t bite when they first meet any new people around them.

Conclusion: Should I Get a Gerbil or a Hamster?

Concluding the topic, that whether should I get a gerbil or a hamster? Well, after researching all the things, I must say one should get a gerbil. The reason behind this is their friendly nature and ease of care.

Gerbils and hamsters are rodents with unique qualities, and depending upon one’s preference, both can be a good pet. But I will recommend having a gerbil. Gerbils have a longer life span, and you can have them for a longer time.

SmallPetsX.Com does not provide veterinary advice. Our aim to help small pet owners understand their pets a little better so that they can provide their pets with the life they deserve. All content is therefore for informational purposes only. If you're concerned about the health of your pet you should seek medical advice from a vet.

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