Why do gerbils eat each other? 6 shocking reasons

If you love gerbils, then you know that these cute and cuddly rodents rarely cause any trouble. But one behavior that may perplex you is their tendency to occasionally consume their own or other gerbils – a trait called cannibalism. While this might sound disturbing initially, cannibalism in gerbils is quite common, and understanding why it happens can help us provide better care for our little friends. In this blog post, we’ll explore the science behind why gerbils eat each other and how best to keep them safe from any harm!

gerbils eat each other

6 Major Reasons Why Gerbils Eat Each Other

1 Poor Nutrition:

If gerbils don’t have access to a balanced diet, they may resort to eating other members of the group out of desperation or hunger. This is why it’s important to always provide your gerbils with fresh food and various meals.

2 Overpopulation:

When there are too many gerbils in one enclosure, competition for resources can lead to aggression and cannibalism. If you notice signs of overcrowding, consider relocating some animals to another habitat. 

3 Stress:

Gerbils that are stressed due to changes in their environment or lack of proper care may turn to cannibalism to cope with their anxiety and frustration. It’s always best to keep the gerbils in a calm, comfortable setting that replicates their natural environment. 

4 Social Instability:

When an alpha male or dominant female dies, the social order of the group can become unbalanced and give rise to aggression between members. To prevent this type of behavior, try introducing new gerbils slowly and carefully so that their introduction does not disrupt the existing hierarchy. 

5 Illness:

Gerbils infected with certain illnesses may begin to display cannibalistic tendencies towards other members of the group as a result of neurological damage or hormone imbalances caused by their condition.

6 Genetics:

In some cases, gerbils may have a genetic predisposition to being more aggressive or more likely to engage in cannibalistic behavior than other members of their species. If you notice that one of your gerbils is showing signs of aggression or attacking the others, it would be best to separate them from the group for the safety and well-being of all involved. 

So these are the 6 main causes of why gerbils each other with proper care, we can prevent them to do this.

Do gerbils eat their babies?

Gerbils do not typically eat their young; however, this behavior may sometimes occur. It is believed to be a result of stress or nutritional deficiencies. In overcrowded gerbil colonies, the dominant female may become stressed and resort to cannibalism.

In other cases, if the mother does not have enough food or nutrients during pregnancy, she may eat her babies out of desperation. This behavior is rare and usually only occurs when an animal’s environment has become very hostile.

Suppose you suspect any of these factors are in your gerbil’s home. In that case, it is important to provide them with additional resources such as food and enrichment activities to reduce the chances of their babies becoming victims of cannibalism.

Will gerbils kill each other?

Gerbils will only kill each other if kept in small enclosures, with overcrowding a major contributing factor. This can be seen when gerbils are housed together in an enclosure that is too small for the number of animals inside; the stress of living in such conditions can lead to aggression and even death. In addition, dominant gerbils may attack weaker ones or their young if there is not enough space for them to escape from an aggressive animal.

It is important to ensure that your gerbil’s enclosure is large enough to spread out and have a sense of security, as this will help prevent aggression between the animals. Furthermore, it is also recommended to house same-sex gerbils together as males will be more aggressive towards females. If you want to keep multiple gerbils, it is important to research how many will fit comfortably in the enclosure and understand their behavior to prevent any potential tragedy.

How long can gerbils live?

Gerbils are small rodents native to the deserts of Africa and Asia. They have an average lifespan of 2-4 years, but with the right care, they can live up to 5 years or even longer. Regular vet checkups are essential to increase their lifespan and ensure they remain healthy, along with a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables and plenty of exercise.

Additionally, providing your gerbil with clean bedding material, such as hay or shredded paper towels, will help keep them comfortable and reduce stress. Finally, proper socialization is also important for a long life; having two gerbils (or more) allows them to interact naturally instead of feeling lonely or isolated from human contact.

What is a gerbil?

Gerbils are small, social rodents native to the Middle East and Northern Africa. Gerbils are typically around 4-5 inches in length and can weigh up to 2 ounces. They have short fur ranging from sandy tan to a deep black, although some gerbils may have stripes or spots on their coat. Gerbils are very active animals, exploring their environment and playing with toys. They make popular pets due to their entertaining behavior and ease of care. Although they are not as easily handled as other rodent pets, they enjoy interaction if they are used to being handled regularly.


So, why do gerbils eat each other? Ultimately, it comes down to stress, boredom, and hunger. By understanding these factors, you can take steps to prevent your gerbils from cannibalizing one another, for example, by providing them with plenty of enrichment opportunities and keeping their cages clean.

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