Can Gerbils Live Alone? (7 Interesting Facts)

One of the most frequently asked questions about gerbils is on whether the gerbils can live alone. In this article, we will be comprehensively addressing that question: of whether or not gerbils can live alone.

Can gerbils live alone? It may be possible for a gerbil to survive alone, but it is certainly not ideal. Gerbils are by nature social animals, which require one another’s company in order to be happy. Whenever possible, you should endeavor to have two or more gerbils.

If you attempt to keep a gerbil alone, you may soon start seeing unmistakable signs of intense loneliness in it. You will then find yourself wondering, does my gerbil need a friend?

Most animal experts are emphatic that gerbils should be kept in pairs or bigger groups. There are actually those who go as far as saying that keeping a gerbil alone is cruel.

Can gerbils live alone
Can Gerbils Live Alone?

Some gerbil emotional needs can only be met by another gerbil. This is why it is not ideal to have a gerbil living alone.

True, there are people who keep lone gerbils. Such people claim that their (lone) gerbils seem to have no problems.

That is what gets more people thinking of also keeping lone gerbils. Or, at the very least, it gets people wondering whether gerbils like to live alone. So let’s start by addressing that issue – of whether gerbils like living alone.


Do Gerbils Like To Live Alone?

Gerbils usually don’t like to live alone.

On the contrary, gerbils like living in pairs or in bigger groups.

Sometimes, you may find an odd gerbil that is okay living alone. This is akin to how you sometimes find an odd person – a hermit – who prefers to live by himself.

But most people would rather live in communities, alongside other people. Now gerbils are social creatures, like us. So they usually don’t like to live alone. They prefer to live with others.


Can Gerbils Live Alone?

Whereas it may be possible for a gerbil to survive by itself, that is by no means an ideal life.

Gerbils, just like us humans, are social creatures. And just as a human being would have a rather rough time living alone (with absolutely no other human contact), so would a gerbil.

Having a gerbil live alone is akin to putting a person in solitary confinement in perpetuity. It can only be termed as a harsh punishment.

Most animal experts will tell you that you should get at least two gerbils. Then you ask, why should I get two gerbils (or more)? And the expert tells you that it is for the gerbils’ social and emotional needs.

It is true that there are people who keep single gerbils. But can a solo gerbil really be happy? The answer is ‘no’ – as some of that gerbil’s social and emotional needs are likely to remain unmet in perpetuity.

The people who keep single gerbils have to go out of their way to lavish attention on the said gerbils. And even then, they usually find that they are unable to offer the gerbil the level of companionship it would be getting from a fellow gerbil.


Can Female Gerbils Live Alone?

Female gerbils shouldn’t live alone.

As we said while answering the question on whether gerbils can live alone at a general level, such lone gerbils are unlikely to be fully happy.

Gerbils – including the female gerbils in question here – thrive when they are in pairs or bigger groups.

Female gerbils – just like male gerbils – have special social needs which only fellow gerbils can understand and meet.

Therefore it is not proper to keep a female gerbil by herself, without a companion.


Can Male Gerbils Live Alone?

There are people who imagine that male gerbils are more emotionally resilient than female gerbils.

That in turn leads to questions like, can gerbils be kept alone if they are male? And the answer is that gerbils – female or male – shouldn’t be kept alone.

Gerbils are social animals, capable of experiencing loneliness and suffering anguish on account of it.

A male gerbil is likely to be happier if kept with another male gerbil, or with several other male gerbils.

A lone male gerbil is likely to be perpetually yearning for (gerbil) company. This can make him very unhappy, in due course.

So the bottom-line is that a male gerbil shouldn’t live alone.


Can Gerbils Live Alone After One Dies?

Sometimes, you may start out with a pair of gerbils, as recommended. Then at some point, one dies, leaving the other one alone.

That leads to an interesting question: can my gerbil live alone happily after the death of its previous companion? And the answer is that gerbils in such situations sometimes live quite well.

But there are also those that become extremely sad and lonely after the death of their companions.

If your gerbil is in the latter category, you may need to get another companion for it. But you would then need to go through the motions of introducing the new companion via the ‘split tank’ method, to avoid conflict…

So some gerbils are able to live quite well after their companion dies. Others become unbearably lonely and unhappy after their companion dies.

Can gerbils live alone
Can Gerbils Live Alone Indefinitely?


Why Do Gerbils Need A Friend?

There are several reasons as to why a gerbil needs a friend.

Firstly, a gerbil simply needs a friend for company. A gerbil that is all by itself easily gets bored, lonely and depressed. The gerbil is a social animal, hence its need for (almost) constant company.

Secondly, a gerbil needs a friend to play with. Yes, a gerbil can play by itself. But the quality of play in that case is different from that which it could enjoy with a companion.

Thirdly, a gerbil needs a friend for grooming purposes. Gerbils are always grooming each other. A gerbil living all by itself doesn’t have anyone to groom it, and this can make it unhappy.


Can Gerbils Survive Alone?

So much is said about gerbil’s need for company. This sometimes leads people to wonder, can gerbils survive alone? Or conversely, can gerbils die of loneliness?

The true position is that gerbils can survive alone. It is just that living alone is not ideal for gerbils. But the gerbil can nonetheless survive alone.

There are people who keep lone gerbils. Such gerbils are able to survive, though theirs’ usually turns out to be an unhappy existence.

As for gerbils dying of loneliness, this too is a possibility. A gerbil that is always lonely is likely to develop stress. The stress then compromises the gerbil’s bodily immunity.

With a compromised bodily immunity, the gerbil can develop all manner of opportunistic infections. And those infections can in due course kill the gerbil.


Is It Bad To Keep A Gerbil Alone?

It is not a good idea to keep a gerbil alone.

The gerbil that is kept alone will tend to become very sad, due to unmet social and emotional needs.

As the lone gerbil’s human owner, you may try to lavish it with all love and attention you can muster. But your love and attention will never quite equate to those that it would be getting from another gerbil.

A gerbil is a social animal. Keeping one alone essentially amounts to putting it under solitary confinement in perpetuity. That surely borders on cruelty.

So indeed, it is bad to keep a gerbil alone. You should try to keep gerbils at least in pairs or bigger groups.


How Long Can Gerbils Live Alone?

Ideally, gerbils shouldn’t be made to live alone. They should be living in pairs, or in bigger gerbil groups.

Still, there are situations in which a gerbil has to live alone: like if, for instance, a suitable companion can’t be found for it.

This is what leads to a question like, for how long can gerbils be housed alone? For instance, would gerbils left for 6 days alone be alright? Or just how long can a gerbil live alone?

The truth of the matter is that, whenever possible, gerbils should have other (gerbil) companions to live with.

It is not proper to have a gerbil live by itself for whichever period of time. The gerbil, being a social animal, is bound to start experiencing pangs of loneliness sooner than later.

Nonetheless, there have been reports of gerbils that manage to survive alone for years (as many as 3). So in theory, gerbils may live for years alone, though it probably won’t be a very pleasant way of living.


How Do You Know That A Gerbil Is Lonely?

A gerbil that is lonely may tend to display bar chewing and floor scratching behaviors.

Such a gerbil that is lonely may also stop being active.

And, gerbil may develop a tendency of sleeping way too much and hibernating.

Thus if you find a gerbil with these signs, and you know that it doesn’t have a companion, then the signs may be due to loneliness.


How Do You Comfort A Lonely Gerbil?

One way to comfort a lonely gerbil is by showering it with attention.

Another way to comfort a lonely gerbil is by giving it things to play with. This may help in distracting its mind, so that it doesn’t focus on its loneliness.

Gerbils like playing with pieces of toilet roll. So you can give your gerbil such, as well as a wheel and toys, in order to distract it from the loneliness.


Final Verdict – Can Gerbils Live Alone

It is not ideal for gerbils to live alone. Gerbils are social creatures, and some of the emotional needs they have can only be met through interaction with other gerbils.

The gerbils provide each other with company, play and grooming help. A gerbil that has no companion misses out on these things, and often becomes very unhappy.

Can gerbils live alone
Can Gerbils Live Alone Always? Can Gerbils Live Alone In Solitude?

The stress that arises from loneliness can, in due course, compromise a gerbil’s immunity. This can in turn lead to infections, some of which may prove fatal.

A lonely gerbil may manifest floor scratching and bar chewing behaviors, alongside excessive sleeping and lethargy.

In the short term, you can help a lonely gerbil by showering it with attention and providing things to play with (so as to distract its mind).

As time goes by though, what you may need to do is find a companion for the lonely gerbil. Then introduce the companion slowly, through the split tank (or other) method, thus solving the gerbil loneliness problem fully.

As a pet lover, make sure to learn about pet more and give your pet gerbil a good and comfortable life!

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