When buying gerbils, you have a choice of shelters/pet rescues, breeders, and pet stores.
Avoid purchasing gerbils online, even if you then go and pick them up yourself. You need to see what you’re buying, and get an accurate picture of how the animals are being kept (and a glimpse of their parents, if possible).
Buyer beware – you need to check out the condition of your gerbils before buying
If you are still determined to buy online, don’t pay for the gerbils until you get to the point of sale. Check the condition of the animals, their parents, and how they are being kept.
NOTE: Gerbils should never be posted or shipped – this presents a grave danger and at the very least will subject them to terrible stress. You will need to pick them up from the seller.
Shelters or Pet Rescue Centers are the perfect place to source your pets. The animals need new homes, and the staff here are always enormously helpful and knowledgeable. They will have been looking after your prospective pets for a while and will know lots about them - their needs, and their personalities.
Also, gerbils from shelters are usually already used to human contact. By getting your pets from here you will be giving them a new home, and will have some very knowledgeable people on hand to answer your questions.
Shelters take in unwanted and rescued animals, on shoestring budgets. They are charities dedicated to saving the lives of unwanted pets. They have a limited amount of money, and so charging a small adoption fee allows them to recoup some of their costs. These funds will be used to look after other animals that need their care. If you can afford it, give generously!
Shelters are wonderful organisations - get your pets from here if possible
Shops can sometimes seem the obvious choice when sourcing your gerbils. If there are no shelters or breeders near where you live, a store may indeed be the best bet. Picking up your pets from a shop may give you a choice of colors, or even species, but there are some things to be wary of when buying from a store.
Gerbil turnover rates are usually quite high, and shop assistants can lose track of gerbil genders. This is an important issue, as you probably don’t want your pets to start breeding as soon as you get them home. Ask the assistant to double-check the gender.
Check that the animals have been kept in good conditions. Is their enclosure large enough? Do all the gerbils look healthy? Do they have constant access to food and water? Is there plenty of space for them to burrow and nest in? If some of the gerbils look ill, then you might want to question why that is, and think twice about purchasing one from that shop.
Your new gerbils should be active and healthy when you buy them
Breeders will usually be experts on the subject of the animals they provide. Most will be very ethical, but some are more like gerbil farms, churning out baby gerbils for the sole purpose of making money. Prospective owners should be careful to avoid pet farms at all costs – they never have the best interests of the animals at heart, and they over-breed the females.
So how do you know what the ‘gerbil farm’ warning signs are? Here are things to look out for:
- Lots of pups available for sale at once
- Poor quality, overcrowded cages
- Individual gerbils looking ill
- An owner who refuses to let you see the gerbils’ mother; or a mother who looks ill or is already pregnant again
- Selling gerbils under five or six weeks of age
- Breeders who seem to know very little about their animals, or don’t seem to care.
Many breeders are very caring, but you need to watch out for the ones who are not.