Gerbil vs Hamster: A Comprehensive Comparison

By | February 13, 2024

Are you interested in comparing gerbils and hamsters as small pets? You can discover the comprehensive differences between these adorable rodents, including their physical characteristics, behaviors, lifespans, and popularity as pets. Choose the companion that is right for you by learning more about them.

What is a Gerbil?

A gerbil belongs to the subfamily Gerbillinae and is a small rodent. Arid regions of Africa, India, and Asia are the habitat of these plants. 

The body of the Gerbil is long, slender, it has a furry tail, and the hind legs are large and well adapted to jumping. As a result of their social nature, they often live in pairs or small groups and are known for their sociability.

What is a Hamster?

Hamsters are rodents belonging to the Cricetinae family.Europeans, Asians, and Middle Easterners are native to various parts of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. 

The hamster is distinguished by its stout body, short tail, and ability to store food in its cheek pouches. It is common to keep hamsters alone as pets as they are solitary animals.

Physical Characteristics

Gerbil Physical Characteristics

Gerbils typically measure approximately four to five inches in length, plus three to four inches for their tail. Soft fur can be found on these animals, which comes in a variety of colors, including shades of gray, brown, and white. The large, dark eyes of gerbils and their long whiskers assist them in navigating their surroundings.

Hamster Physical Characteristics

The average body length of a hamster is between 2 and 4 inches, and the tail length is between 0.5 and 1 inch. They are also known for their soft fur, and their coat colors vary greatly depending on the species and breed. The ears of hamsters are small and round, and their whiskers are relatively short compared to those of gerbils.

Lifespan and Size

Gerbil Lifespan and Size

A gerbil typically lives between 2 and 4 years, although some may live longer if they are properly cared for. 

As far as size is concerned, adult gerbils typically weigh between one and two ounces. There is a general difference between hamsters and mice in terms of their robustness and size.

Hamster Lifespan and Size

The lifespan of a hamster is shorter than that of a gerbil, usually ranging from two to three years. 

It depends on the species and breed of the animal as to its size. Compared to gerbils, hamsters weigh between one and two ounces as adults.

Behavior and Temperament

Gerbil Behavior and Temperament

Gerbils are well-known for their playful and active natures, as well as their high level of socialization. For them to be able to engage in these behaviors, they require an environment that is conducive to burrowing and digging. With regular handling, Gerbils can be easily tamed. Their curiosity makes them enjoy exploring their surroundings.

Hamster Behavior and Temperament

The hamster, on the other hand, is by nature a solitary animal. When housed together, they may become stressed or aggressive because they prefer their own space. A hamster tends to be more active at night since they are nocturnal. Nevertheless, hamsters can also become tame and form bonds with their owners if handled and cared for properly from an early age.

Popularity as Pets

Gerbil Popularity as Pets

The friendly nature of gerbils, their low maintenance requirements, and their sociability make them popular pets. Their natural behavior can be observed by their owners by keeping them in pairs or small groups. Whether you are looking for an interactive and entertaining pet for yourself or your family, gerbils are excellent companions.

Hamster Popularity as Pets

The hamster has long been a popular pet, especially among individuals or families who are seeking a pet that does not require a significant amount of social interaction. They are suitable for a variety of living situations due to their small size and low maintenance requirements. 

For individuals who are more active in the evening hours, hamsters can provide companionship through observation. Their nocturnal nature makes them an appealing choice for those who seek companionship through observation.

Similarities Between Gerbils and Hamsters

There are several similarities between gerbils and hamsters, including their small size, omnivorous diet, and the need for appropriate habitats that allow them to behave as they would in the wild. 

There are several responsibilities associated with caring for both pets, including keeping their cages clean, providing them with fresh food and water, and monitoring their health.

Differences Between Gerbils and Hamsters

There are some characteristics that both gerbils and hamsters share, however, there are also some distinctions between the two. Hamsters are generally solitary animals while gerbils tend to be more social animals. 

There is a significant difference in size and lifespan between gerbils and hamsters, and gerbils have a longer lifespan. Additionally, the way they behave, their activity patterns, and the method in which they prefer to be handled may differ.


Hamsters and gerbils are both popular small pets. They each have their distinctive characteristics. Unlike hamsters, gerbils have a more solitary nature and prefer to observe their surroundings rather than interact with each other. A healthy and enriched life depends on understanding the specific needs of these animals, such as their diet, housing, and handling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *