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How Do Gerbils Survive In The Desert?

Most of the hundred-plus gerbil species survive in harsh, arid conditions in the wild. Domesticated species have been bred in captivity for so many generations now that many would be unable to survive the extreme temperatures and food irregularity of life in the wild, but their ancestors and wild counterparts have a number of behavioral and anatomical adaptations that enable them to scrape by on scarce resources.

 Shaw’s jird gerbils
Over time, gerbils have adapted to become great little desert survivors!

How Is A Gerbil Adapted To The Desert?

  • There are a few color variations in domesticated gerbils, but in the wild all gerbils and jirds are pale shades of brown. This coloration gives them camouflage in their arid environment, making them less likely to be detected by predators.

  • To minimize fluid loss in their desert habitats, gerbils have evolved the ability to retain moisture, only urinating infrequently compared to other rodents. However, gerbils kept in captivity should have water constantly available to them.

  • Gerbils are excellent burrowers - their burrows provide safety and shelter from heat, cold, and predators. Captive gerbils have the same instinct to burrow, and if they are unable to they will become very stressed and unhappy.

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