Are Gerbils and Hamsters the Same Thing? Comparisons

Gerbils and hamsters are different species, although they both belong to the rodent family. They have distinct characteristics and care requirements, so it’s important to do research and understand the specific needs of each animal before deciding to get one as a pet.

Key Takeaways

  • Gerbils and hamsters have distinct differences in appearance, with gerbils being longer and more slender with a longer tail, while hamsters are shorter and more rotund with a short tail.
  • Gerbils are outgoing, social, and active during the day, while hamsters are solitary and nocturnal, more active at night.
  • Gerbils have an omnivorous diet that requires a variety of fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and insects, while hamsters are primarily herbivores needing a high fiber diet of pellets, vegetables, fruits, and hay.
  • Gerbils need a larger cage with more room to move and explore, while hamsters require a smaller cage with nesting material and chewable items.

Differences in Appearance

You can easily differentiate gerbils and hamsters by their appearance, as they have distinct physical characteristics.

Gerbils are typically longer and more slender, with a tail that’s about twice the length of their body. They also have large, furry ears and small black eyes.

Hamsters, on the other hand, are short and more rotund with a short tail. They have small ears and big eyes.

Gerbils typically have light-brown fur with some black, white, and grey patches, while hamsters are usually brown or black with white and grey accents.

Personality Traits

You’ll notice that gerbils and hamsters have different personalities, too. Gerbils are more outgoing and social, and tend to be more active during the day. They’re also more curious and exploratory, so they’ll need plenty of stimulating toys and activities to keep them busy.

Hamsters, on the other hand, are more solitary and nocturnal, so they’re more active at night. Hamsters are also more timid and skittish, and can be easily startled and scared by loud noises or sudden movements.

Both animals can be friendly when handled with care, but it’s important to know the personality of the pet you’re getting to ensure it has the best quality of life.

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Diet and Nutrition

Both gerbils and hamsters require a varied diet, but there are some key differences between their nutritional needs.

Gerbils are omnivores, which means they eat both plant and animal matter. They need a diet rich in proteins, carbohydrates and fats, and should be given a variety of fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and insects.

Hamsters, on the other hand, are primarily herbivores and should be given a diet high in fiber. They should be fed pellets, vegetables, fruits, and hay, with occasional treats of nuts, seeds, and insects.

It’s important to provide both animals with plenty of fresh water. Additionally, gerbils should be given a vitamin supplement to help prevent nutritional deficiencies, while hamsters don’t require one.

Ultimately, it’s important to understand the specific dietary needs of each animal to ensure they’re getting the proper nutrition they need to stay healthy.

Habitat and Environment

You may think that gerbils and hamsters have the same housing needs, but they don’t!

It’s important to consider the size of the cage, the temperature range, and the humidity needs for each species.

Researching these requirements is key to providing the best environment for your pet.

Cage Size

When it comes to their cage size, you’ll need to provide different habitats and environments for gerbils and hamsters. Gerbils need a large cage, as they’re active and need plenty of room to move around and explore. An ideal gerbil cage is at least two square feet, with additional space for a running wheel, hiding spots, and chewable items like sticks and wooden blocks.

Hamsters, on the other hand, need a much smaller cage. A typical hamster cage should be no smaller than one square foot and should be stocked with plenty of nesting material, chewable items, and toys. It’s also important to change the bedding material regularly to keep the environment clean and sanitary.

Additionally, both gerbils and hamsters need access to fresh food and water, as well as a regular exercise routine.

Temperature Range

You’ll need to provide different temperature ranges for gerbils and hamsters.

Gerbils typically thrive in temperatures between 70-80°F, whereas hamsters are more comfortable at lower temperatures, between 65-75°F. It’s important to ensure the temperature doesn’t drop below 65°F or rise above 85°F for either species.

In addition to a temperature-controlled environment, you’ll need to provide plenty of fresh air and ventilation to keep your pet healthy. To keep gerbils and hamsters warm, you can offer nesting materials such as shredded paper, or a warm, cozy bed. This can help maintain the necessary temperature and humidity levels for your pet.

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Humidity Needs

By providing a humid habitat and environment, you can ensure your gerbil and hamster stay healthy and comfortable. Hamsters prefer environments with higher humidity levels than gerbils. To create this environment for a hamster, use a substrate that helps to retain moisture, such as aspen bedding or sphagnum moss.

For a gerbil, use a substrate like wood shavings or paper bedding, as these materials will help keep the humidity low. Additionally, you can mist the habitat lightly with water every couple of days to provide extra moisture.

Health and Lifespan

You can expect different lifespans and health needs from gerbils and hamsters. Gerbils typically live for about 3-5 years, while hamsters can live up to 2-3 years. Both species need regular veterinary check-ups and should be monitored for signs of illness.

Gerbils tend to need more exercise and need to be kept in a larger enclosure than hamsters. Hamsters, on the other hand, require a diet that’s higher in fat and protein. Both species can suffer from heat stroke if their cage is too warm, so it’s important to keep them in an environment that isn’t too hot.

It’s also important to keep their cages clean to prevent any potential health issues. In conclusion, both gerbils and hamsters require special care and attention, so it’s important to do research and understand the specific needs of each animal before deciding to get one as a pet.

Costs and Responsibilities

When it comes to owning a pet gerbil or hamster, you need to consider the costs and responsibilities associated with it.

Housing costs, feeding costs, and vet care should all be taken into account when deciding whether or not to bring one of these small furry friends into your home.

Housing Costs

Have you considered the costs and responsibilities of housing gerbils and hamsters?

Both animals require different habitats to remain healthy and content, so it’s important to research the housing requirements and associated costs before deciding if either one is the right pet for you.

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Hamsters, for example, need a large wire cage with bedding, exercise wheel, water bottle, and food dish, with a total cost of around $50.

Gerbils, on the other hand, require an aquarium with a mesh lid to keep them safe, as well as bedding, food dish, water bottle, and exercise wheel, costing around $70-$80.

Both animals also require regular cleaning and care, so you’ll need to factor in the cost of cleaning supplies as well.

Feeding Costs

You’ll also need to factor in the cost of feeding your gerbil or hamster, as well as the responsibility of doing so. Gerbils usually need a diet of seeds, grains, and nuts, while hamsters prefer to eat pellets, vegetables, and fruits. Both animals will need access to fresh water at all times, so you’ll need to buy a water bottle or water bowl to keep them hydrated.

Depending on the size of your pet, you may need to buy a small amount of food or a large bag of food to last a few months. You’ll also need to provide treats, such as nuts, vegetables, or fruits, as a reward or snack. Make sure to check the expiration date on any treats you buy, and avoid giving your pet too many treats, as it can lead to obesity.

Lastly, you’ll need to clean out the food dish or water bottle each day or two to make sure your pet is eating and drinking fresh food and water.

Veterinary Care

You’ll need to consider both the cost and responsibility of veterinary care for your gerbil or hamster. Veterinary care is essential for both types of pet rodents as they’re prone to many health issues. An annual checkup is recommended for both species, as well as any necessary vaccinations. Depending on where you live, these costs can be quite expensive.

Additionally, it’s important to be aware of any potential health issues and be prepared to take your pet to the vet if necessary. If you’re considering either a gerbil or hamster as a pet, make sure you factor in the cost of vet care into your plans.