Gerbils are not typical cuddly animals and will never turn into such, but you can still make your gerbils very trusting.
Provided you understand how you should proceed.
In this article we will tell you 5 proven steps to make your gerbil tame.
Step 1: Give your gerbil time
Gerbils are naturally escape animals, as they are very low on the food chain.
So it is only natural that your gerbil will instinctively flee when it sees you and you are still a stranger to it.
It will take a while for your gerbil to understand that you mean him no harm and that he need not be afraid of you. However, a few weeks may pass before it gets to that point.
For this reason, don’t rush things and leave your gerbil completely alone for the first two to three weeks.
Your pet will feel enough stress as it is, being in a strange environment and not knowing you, the sounds, the daily routines or its surroundings.
However, don’t worry…
Gerbils are fearful and cautious animals, but they also possess a strong curiosity and a great urge to explore.
So, in all likelihood, it won’t take long for your rodent to thaw out a bit and become curious about his surroundings and, by extension, you.
Step 2: Talk to your gerbil
Once your pet has settled in well, it’s now time to start building a relationship with your racer.
To do this, it can be very helpful to first get your gerbil used to your voice: talk to your gerbil in a calm, gentle tone of voice and see how it responds.
Does it flee and hide in its little house?
Then you should definitely not go to the next step, but sit in front of the enclosure for several minutes every day and just talk to your animal.
Also pay close attention to your body language and movements during this step.
Avoid jerky, quick movements that are unpredictable to your pet.
Also, it will seem less threatening to your gerbil if you sit or stand slightly to the side in front of the enclosure.
It is best to talk to your gerbils at eye level, crouching or standing depending on the height of your enclosure.
Avoid looking into the enclosure from above – this reminds them of a bird of prey, which in the wild would mean certain death! This way, your gerbil is guaranteed not to dare to come out of its hiding place.
If your gerbil is no longer afraid when it hears your voice and may even approach you with curiosity, then it is time to move on to step
Step 3: Give your pet treats from your hand
If your racer is already a little curious about you, you can start by taking a pumpkin seed or other treat between your thumb and index finger and holding your hand in the enclosure.
The important thing here is to keep your hand in one place and move as little as possible.
Wait for your gerbil to come to your hand and don’t chase it with the treat. Your Gerbil will set the pace, and when curiosity wins out, he will carefully approach your hand, examine it closely, sniff it, and take the treat from you.
In the meantime, talk reassuringly to your pet so that he realizes that everything is okay.
If your rodent doesn’t dare come close to your hand, you can simply try again and again, or place the treat in the enclosure at the beginning and place your hand a few centimeters away.
This intermediate step can work wonders, as your gerbil will have to struggle much less to get to the treat and still understand that your hand has brought it the food.
After a few repetitions, it may well be that your gerbil will take the food from your hand as well.
In the next step you will learn how to continue.
Step 4: Lure your gerbil out of its comfort zone
If your Gerbil takes the treats reliably and without fear from your hand, you can proceed to step 4.
The goal here is to get your gerbil to make more contact with your hand.
You can achieve this by placing the treat in the middle of your palm instead of between your thumb and index finger. Now hold your gerbil’s hand in the enclosure and wait until your animal becomes curious.
Ideally, your gerbil will come running up and climb directly onto your hand to grab the treat.
However, it is much more likely that your gerbil will first run around your hand and try to get the food from the side.
Make sure that you place the food in such a way that your gerbil has to at least put his paws on your hand to be able to grab the treat.
Avoid moving your hand or even your fingers if your pet dares to get on your hand or even near your hand.
Also, don’t turn your hand, it’s perfectly fine if your pet approaches from the side first and doesn’t take the long way around your fingertips.
Step 5: The ‘Hand Winding
Now go all the way!
Your gerbil already dares to go completely on your hand?
Very good, you are almost there!
Now it’s time to get your pet used to sitting on your hand for longer periods of time and to stay relaxed even when your hand is moving.
For this, it’s best to sprinkle a little millet or other birdseed on your hand.
Your gerbil will not be able to grab this in one bite and run away, but will have to stay on the hand a little longer if he wants to eat the food.
If your gerbil has no problems with this, then you can start by slowly and carefully moving the hand up and down a little while your gerbil sits on it and eats.
Again, this doesn’t bother your pet?
You did it and were able to establish a good and trusting bond! Your gerbil now trusts you and no longer sees you as a potential danger!
FAQ – frequently asked questions
1) How long does it take until a gerbil becomes trusting?
There is no general answer to this question, because every animal has its own individual character traits, which can lead to curiosity or fear gaining the upper hand.
Also the duration of the process depends on the history of the animal and how well you can respond to your gerbil and its needs.
Under normal circumstances you should be able to see the first successes after a few weeks.
Until your gerbil is really tame, it can sometimes take a quarter to half a year or even longer.
2) Will every gerbil become trusting?
No, not every gerbil becomes trusting.
If your pet has had many bad experiences with humans, it may well never regain its trust.
In addition, it may be that your animal is very fearful by nature and its fear blocks it so much that the inhibition threshold to come to you is much too high.
However, these are isolated cases, usually with a little work and patience gerbils become at least tame enough to take treats from your hand.
3) What should I do if my gerbil does not become trusting?
Accept your pet for who he is.
If your gerbil is so scared that it doesn’t want contact with you, then you should definitely not force yourself on it.
Of course, you can always try again to see if your gerbil changes its mind, but never push your pet into a corner to “force” it.
Every animal is individual, some gerbils need more space than others and are not really interested in human contact.
Nevertheless, you can have fun with your pet if you watch it intensively, for example.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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