Hamsters vs. Gerbils: Which Is Better For You?
- 1 What is a hamster?
- 2 What is a gerbil?
- 3 What are the similarities between hamsters and gerbils?
- 4 What are the differences between hamsters and gerbils?
- 5 Why is a gerbil is a better pet for you than a hamster?
- 6 Why is a hamster is a better pet for you than a gerbil?
- 7 Conclusion
It has proven to be a tad bit difficult for people to decide whether to go for a hamster, which is much larger and easier to handle, or a gerbil which is known to be more friendly and less shy. In the actual sense, these two animals are almost the same, with only a few differences in size and behavior. They both make great, amazing pets and the choice of which to go with would largely depend on you.
This article would help shed some light on the advantages and disadvantages that come with both pets and help you make a better choice.
What is a hamster?
A hamster is a rodent, characterized by squatty legs, short ears and tails, and round cute faces. They are the ideal definition of a bundle of cuteness and come in different species, the most common of which is the Syrian Hampster.
What is a gerbil?
A gerbil is a rodent known for its long, furry tails, strong hind legs that help it to stand upright, and sharp claws for burrowing, which is one of its favorite activities. The most common species of gerbils adopted as pets is the Mongolian gerbil.
What are the similarities between hamsters and gerbils?
It is very easy to confuse a hamster for a gerbil and vice-versa, especially for people who have had no experience whatsoever with either of these animals. This is because, at first glance, they might all look the same with their furry bodies, cute faces, and generally small size.
Here are a few similarities:
Both animals are omnivores, meaning they feed on both plants and animals (insects). They basically have the same diet. However this similarity, there is a difference in their feeding habit in that hamsters are food hoarders. They keep their food in their cheek pouches or around their nests, while gerbils consume their food on the go.
Another similarity between them is the fact that their teeth never stop growing all their life. This is why it is best to provide them with loose forage to prevent overgrowth.
Gerbils are natural diggers and they have sharp claws to this effect. They spend a lot of time making burrows in their beddings. Hamsters do the same and use their burrows as food nests.
What are the differences between hamsters and gerbils?
The differences between hamsters and gerbils can be pointed out at a closer look and can basically be categorized based on their face, tails, legs, size, sleeping habits, behavior, and movement.
Although both cute, a hamster’s face differs completely from a gerbil’s. A hamster has a round, wide, and fluffy face with big cheeks which it uses to hoard its food, while a gerbil has a much leaner and longer face, similar to that of a mouse.
This has to be one of the most prominent differences between both rodents. Hamsters are known for their short, thickset tails while gerbils possess long tails that are fully covered in fur. In fact, a gerbil’s tail measures about four inches, which is sometimes longer than the length of its body.
Although both hamster and gerbil sit up on their hind legs, a gerbil’s hind legs are much stronger and longer than a hamster’s. This makes it easier for a gerbil to jump around. Hamsters are not great jumpers and they would mostly sit on their hind legs as they eat.
Generally, a hamster, depending on its species, grows bigger than a gerbil while a gerbil grows longer than a hamster. Longer in the sense of body features, like longer legs, ears, noses, and tails. Syrian hamsters grow up to 6 inches while the dwarfs grow between 2 to 4 inches. The average Mongolian gerbil grows about 4 to 5 inches in body and another 4 inches for the tail which makes it about the same size as a dwarf hamster.
Hamsters are nocturnal animals, which means that they sleep during the day are only active at night, mornings, and evenings. Gerbils are not nocturnal animals. They are active during the day, in between a few hours of sleep, and mostly sleep at night.
Gerbils are very social animals. They thrive better in the company of others, are naturally inquisitive, and love human interaction. Hamsters are less social animals and are only active at night. They do not enjoy being woken up and would sometimes bite if startled. Oftentimes, they love to crawl into a solitary place away from everyone and be left alone. Gerbils don’t mind getting snatched out of sleep and will never really bite if raised properly.
Why is a gerbil is a better pet for you than a hamster?
Gerbils are social, inquisitive, love to interact with humans and other gerbils, and are fun to watch. They are active all day, unlike hamsters who are more solitary animals and are usually asleep during the day. This could be pretty downing for a kid who wants to play with his little pet after school. Gerbils are the best pet choice for kids because they are energetic, endearing, and safer since they rarely ever bite, unlike hamsters who bite when startled or woken.
However, kids handling them could be a problem because of their small size and so there should be parental guidance during playtime for kids below the age of ten should.
Gerbils love company, and so you might want to consider getting them in groups, rather than singles. With them, it is the more, the merrier, unlike hamsters who are territorial and would rarely allow any other creature to live with them.
Finally, gerbils live longer than hamsters. Under healthy conditions, the average gerbil can live up to 3 to 8 years while hamsters live between 2 to 5 years on average. This makes them a better choice for kids, who would definitely not want to see their favorite pet go so soon.
Why is a hamster is a better pet for you than a gerbil?
If you are considering getting a hamster rather than a gerbil, here are some reasons you should go along with your decision. First, if you do not see yourself having a long-term commitment to a pet, then you should go for a hamster. Depending on their species, they live only about 2 to 5 years unlike a gerbil who could live for up to 8 years. Also, if your job keeps you up evening/ night, then a hamster is a better choice for you. This is because they are nocturnal animals and are mainly active at night unlike gerbils, who need you during the day.
Hamsters are solitary animals, are fine left on their own for hours, and are territorial, meaning they do not do well with partners. If you do not think you are capable of taking on more than one pet at a time, a hamster is a better choice for you than a gerbil because gerbils thrive better in the company of others.
Gerbils are small and frail and you could risk giving them a fatal injury if your kids handle them. However, hamsters are generally easy to handle as a result of their size and are more suitable for young kids to play with.
The choice of what animal to pick as a pet largely depends on you and all the other factors that come into play. Both are great pet options and what matters most is how capable you are of caring for your pet of choice.