Gerbils have a lot of things in common with Hamsters – both animals are rodents, both make adorable little pets, and both eat food that looks similar. But this is usually where the similarities end.
Thepetadvisors states this: Gerbils can live in Hamster cages but only for a short while. You are better off investing in a gerbilarium or tanks specifically made for Gerbils if you intend to keep them for the long term. Basic Hamster cages and Gerbil cages have their own specialties which will be discussed below.
Hamsters are slow-moving animals who like to live in solitary in a tidy & neat cage. Their legs are short in comparison to their large bodies; made for walking in tunnels, not for speedrunning. Hamsters usually sleep all day in their plastic cage with a thin layer of wood shavings.
Since Hamsters do not need bedding with many layers, their cages do not contain a deep plastic base that is required to hold many layers of wood shavings. Hamsters like walking inside tunnels both horizontally and vertically, something that is possible by Hamsters because of the girth of their giant bodies.
Hamsters have a tendency of moving their food around and hoarding them for later. For the characteristics discussed above, an ideal cage for Hamsters would be small and divided into parts, connected by tubes made of plastic. The base of the cage would be minimal and shallow. Wheels can be found in Hamster cages too.
Gerbils, on the other hand, are fast-moving animals who happen to like living in a very messy environment. Their bodies are petite with long hind legs for digging and speed. Gerbils like to run around and dig a lot, and they almost never stay still. They sleep for a short while and wake up, runs around a bit and fall asleep again.
The bedding required for Gerbils must be at least a few inches deep because they need room to dig and move stuff around. Because of this, the bases for a Gerbil cage or tank must be deep and made of either glass or solid plastic. They enjoy kicking around the cage contents in the bedding day and night.
Gerbils love staying in tunnels or underground where they cannot be seen because these kinds of settings make them feel safe. They usually move only horizontally in tunnels because their bodies are not made to move vertically.
Why Gerbil Can’t Be Kept In Hamster Cages For Long?
Gerbils have very strong teeth and can chew through almost anything.
To prevent this, the walls of a Gerbil’s cage have to be especially strong. If a Gerbil is put inside a Hamster cage, it can and will chew through the colorful plastic cages, ladders, shelves, and even food bowls. All of these inside a Hamster cage are made of plastic with a Hamster in mind so they are usually not Gerbil-proof.
Gerbils are not safe in a Hamster cage for long term living because they can destroy the cage pretty easily, and the bedding is nowhere near enough for them. The ideal cage for Gerbils is very different from a Hamster cage. It should not contain plastic parts with edges.
Plastics can be used but they need to be smooth with no edge, so the Gerbil has no starting point for chewing. A cage with little compartments connected by tunnels is ideal for Hamster but not-so-ideal for Gerbils because they can easily chew through the plastic parts and wreak havoc.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Gerbils are social animals and need to stay in touch with each other, a cage made of many compartments can prevent that. The ideal Gerbil cage should be much bigger than a Hamster cage, made of glass or solid plastic, and have a deep base filled with lots of bedding.
In conclusion, while Gerbils can live inside a Hamster cage for a short time, Gerbils are not safe in hamster cages for a long period of time and they should have cages specifically made for them.