A gerbil belongs to the family of rodents. About 110 species of gerbils can be found today. They can adapt to arid habitats. There was a time when gerbils were referred to as wild rats. Most of the gerbils are diurnal whereas, some of them can be crepuscular. This rodent is a native of Central Asia, India, the Middle East, and Africa. The gerbil generally has an average length between six to twelve inches, with the gerbil tail included. This tail takes up approximately one half of the total length. It is noticed that gerbils are a very common household pet.
The size of gerbils is smaller than that of rats but bigger than that of mice. It is seen that their size mainly depends on the species. These rodents have a tail with hair that ends with a tassel. Generally, they are five to six inches in length but with the tail, their size becomes around eleven to twelve inches.
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The Indian gerbil is also known as the ‘antelope rat.’ They are a species of rodents and belong to the Muridae family. They are found vastly in the south Asian countries from Syria to Bangladesh. They are the only species that are present in the genus Tatera. It is seen that the members belonging to the genus Gerbilliscus have historically been placed in Tatera.
The length of the antelope rat’s head and body can be approximately 17-20 cm. The length of their tail is roughly 20-21 cm. Their dorsal surface that includes their entire head is brown or light brown coloured with a rusty wash, and white underparts. The tails are fully furry with a dark blackish brown colour, with greyish sides and a prominent black tuft present on its tip. The fur on their body is soft and sparse underneath. The fur on their tail is longer. They have large and prominent eyes.
Their reproduction is dioecious. The females of these species provide care.
These species are nocturnal and omnivorous. They are solitary. It is noticed that these species live for roughly 84 months. They are known to feed on grains, seeds, plants, roots, insects, reptiles, and even birds of small size. They also eat mammals that they can catch.
The Mongolian gerbil, also known as a Mongolian jird, is a small rodent that belongs to the subfamily Gerbillinae. The body size of this species is roughly around 110-135 mm, with a bodyweight of 60-130 g and a tail that is 95-120 mm long. The adult males are considerably larger than the females. This animal was used in scientific research at a time, but now it has fallen out of favour. This rodent is used as a pet also.
Mongolian gerbils typically live around grassland, shrubland, and desert, and also including semi-desert and steppes in China, Mongolia, and the Russian Federation.
The Mongolian gerbil is a pretty popular house pet. It was first brought to Paris from China in the 19th century, where it became the popular house pet. Later, Dr. Victor Schwentker brought it to the United States in 1954 to use it in his research. Soon, Dr. Schwentker noticed their potential as house pets. Gerbils became popular pets in the United States around the late 1950s, and later in 1964, they were imported to the UK, where they also became popular pets. You can now find them in almost every shop in the UK and the US.
The fat gerbil is also known as the duprasi gerbil or doop. It is a rodent that belongs to the subfamily Gerbillinae and is the only member of the genus Pachyuromys. These species of gerbil are noticed to be the most docile species from the gerbil subfamily. These species have soft and fluffy fur. Other common English names for this species are fat-tailed jird, fat-tailed rat, and beer mat gerbil.
This species of gerbil is medium in size. The body length of this species is around 10 cm (4 inches), with its tail about 5 cm (2 inches) long. This species of gerbil has a coat that is thick, soft, and fluffy. The hair present at the back and the head of this gerbil is yellow. The colour of their belly is clear white. These species weigh from 40 to 120 grams. The legs of these species are comparatively short. They have a structure that is similar to that of a dwarf hamster, but unlike hamsters, these species have certain different features like a pointed snout and a fat, nearly bald tail. They tend to store fat in their tails just like the camel stores fat in its hump. It is this tail that distinguishes them from the other species of the gerbil.
The giant gerbils, also known as the great gerbils, are native to Central Asia. They are the largest of gerbils, and their body length is around 15-20 cm (6-8 inches). They have a characteristic skull due to the presence of two grooves in each incisor. Their large front claws are used for burrowing. They are found in arid habitats. They can be found in places in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.
They live in family groups, and each family occupies one burrow. These gerbils do not hibernate, but they spend most of their time in burrows during winter. The giant gerbils are mainly diurnal, and they mainly feed on vegetable matter. These animals are generally colonial, and they have a lifespan from around 2-4 years. You can distinguish between inhabited giant gerbil burrows from the abandoned ones using satellite images. They are also known as crop pests and have been involved in worsening erosion.
Just like in human beings the absence of melanin gives the individual a fairer and whiter skin, a similar thing can be found in animals. When in animals the white colour appears, we see that the animal is usually an albino. This usually happens when the animal is also seen in other colours and patterns, but also they can appear in white. Albinism is the outcome of a certain genetic mutation that gets rid of the melanin pigment.
You can find white gerbils, with pink or red eyes just like in albinos. But these white gerbils are not albinos. Instead, the change in their coat colour is a result of some other complicated genetic changes.
The colour of these gerbils is pure white. They might look like lab mice but they have the shape of gerbils. You can also find gerbils in a colour range between regular agouti and white, such as cream or nutmeg. You can find a white gerbil with either red or pink eyes.
It is also possible to find white gerbils with black eyes. These are called black-eyed whites, or BEWs. You will not find them in every pet shop because white gerbils are generally found across the United States.
Which Gerbil Colour is Said to Be the Rarest?
You cannot call any colour, pattern, or colour and pattern combo the rarest. This is because what is ‘rare’ totally depends on where you live. Some kinds of gerbil may be rare in some places, whereas other types of gerbil can be pretty common in that place.
Golden agoutis are very common, and you can find them everywhere you go. They are available at almost every pet store.
Also, the word ‘rare’ doesn’t necessarily have to mean ‘good.’ You can find a kind of gerbil called the extreme white gerbil that has a coat that is 90% white. This white is pure and very clean compared to the other types of white gerbils. So thinking they are unique and rare, you might like to pet one. But this is not a good idea. It is noticed that extreme white gerbils have health concerns that are not found in normal ones. They can experience something called a head tilt, for instance where they cannot balance themselves properly. The behaviour of these gerbils is also found to be pretty unusual.
Gerbils are small rodents that belong to the subfamily Gerbillinae. They are common house pets. However, due to the threats posed to the indigenous ecosystems and existing agricultural operations, it has become illegal to purchase, import, or keep this rodent as a pet in the US states of California. In New Zealand also it has become illegal to import this animal.