Species Biology


English name: Mongolian Gerbil

French name: Gerbille de Mongolie

Latin name: Meriones unguiculatus (Milne-Edwards, 1867)



Subphylum Vertebrata
Classe Mammalia
Ordre Rodentia
Superfamily Muroidea
Family Muridea
Subfamily Gerbillinea
Genus Meriones
Species Meriones unguiculatus
Commun name Mongolian Gerbil


Physiology et anatomy


Length: About 28cm (11 inches), The tail makes the half of the total length.

Weight: Between 50g and 110g. The males are usually bigger the females. 

Life span: 3 to 4 years, can go up to  5 years. 

Hearth rate: 360 beats/minute

Respiratory rate: 90/minute

Activity cycle: The gerbil doesn’t live only at night as some rodents. It lives during night and day. Its activity cycle is quite complex but can be resumed as short period of sleep between periods of activities. Mine all sleep at noon! After a while they can even match your daily routine.



The gerbil takes great care of its fur! It cleans it with his tooths and claws. The clan members also take care of each other fur by grooming others ones. But in some cases, fur can have a strang color or some part of it can be missing. Here are some cases I saw over time.  


Belly sent gland

The gerbils have a gland on their belly. It can be seen as a patch of missing fur right in the center of its belly. You can observe your gerbil rub itself on every obect in his territory and even on its clan member! It's their way to mark their territory. Male's gland are bigger then female's. In aged males, infection may occurs in this area. 






Barbering or shaving

You might see some patch of fur missing on your gerbils, often on the neck, or near the base of the tail. You don't need to worry most of the time. It's only the other gerbils that groom to hard and cut some hairs. But be aware that some infection or parasite may produce loss of hairs. Verify if your gerbil don't scratch itself too much.


Barbering, in mice cases, is a sing of overpopulation. The dominant mice will shave the dominated mouse.

In the gerbil case, I saw that sometimes, in my juvenile aquariums when the population was to high, the dominated gerbil had the base of the tail totally hairless. But no fight occurred.



The molt 

The gerbil changes its fur some times in the year. When it occurs, you can see a line in the fur. This line will move upward up to the top of the head and then disappear. 






The rust 

You can see this mostly in dark color gerbils, mostly in breeding females. The fur under the tail will become orange or yellow. This is caused mostly by dirty habitat. When the gerbil urinated, it produces ammonia, the same product used in hair bleaching. The fur is literally discoloured by this chemical. This is not dangerous for the gerbil but the bedding should be change more often and the hair color should become normal in the next molt. The rust may also be visible around the mouth of the gerbil. This is caused by cage bar chewing. The saliva makes the bar rust and then color the hairs.    




Hairs missing on the nose

While gerbils chew cage bares, it care injur itself. By rubing it's nose on the bar, the fur beging to go away. The only way to stop that is to find your gerbil a nice aquarium or an habitat where it won't be able to chew barres. The fur should come back by itself. 






©All right reserved, copyright TheGerbils.com

Webmaster: Joelle Clermont