Hi! I have owned and bred gerbils for 13+ years so, maybe I can help you out.
First thing that you need to know is that you should purchase at least 2 gerbils. Gerbils are very social creatures and live in large colonies in the wild. If they are kept alone in captivity, they tend to become depressed. Though there are the exceptions, which live happily alone. But, the general rule is to purchase them in pairs or more.
I advise that you get 2 of the same sex if you don’t want babies! It is quite easy to sex gerbils. The males have little “bumps” under their tails which are their testes. Also the space between their urinary and anal opening is much larger than with females. It is best if you check a few gerbils and note the differences and you will know what you need to look for.
You should never grab a gerbil by their tail because it can break off and it will not grow back. It is a defence mechanism used in the wild. If you need to hold a gerbil by the tail, like for sexing purposes, then hold them firmly at the base of the tail (nearest the body) and support the whole body while turning the gerbil on it’s back.
Personality wise, there is not much difference between the sexes. They are both equally loving and caring. The only thing I have to warn about is that if you want more than 2 gerbils than I advise you go with males. Gerbils live in Matriarchal societies which means females run the roost. Often the leading female will chase off any other female who threatens her position. In captivity, females do wonderful in pairs and sometimes trios if raised together but, don’t fare so well in larger groups. Males on the other hand are extremely fatherly and will take in young pups like his own. So, if you would like to have your own “clan” of gerbils then go with males.
Gerbils are also very active and curious and will enjoy a multitude of toys. Unscented and uncolored toilet paper will be used to make a big nest…you don’t have to shred it, they will do it themselves. Other toys they enjoy are toilet paper rolls, wood to chew on (make sure it is rodent safe!), tin cans (with no sharp edges!), exercise wheels (closed in so it doesn’t trap tails or legs), ladders, shelves, basically anything to explore as long as it can’t be easily chewed and it is non-toxic.
For food, find a nice pellet and seed based diet designed for small rodents. Gerbils also enjoy fruits and vegetables but, they should be introduced slowly so, it doesn’t cause any stomach upsets. Other good things to give are dog biscuits (they love to gnaw on these and it is very healthy for them), dandelion leaves, clover, wheat (make sure no pesticides were used on any of these), and mealworms. And of course, make sure fresh water is available at all times. A water bottle works best for this. Gerbils do not drink much but, they still require fresh water.
As far as caging goes, with gerbils the best is to go with a aquarium. Gerbils love digging and burrowing! With a normal rodent cage, you will experience a great deal of mess flying out. The only advantage of a cage is the ventilation. But, you can buy a screen top to help with the ventilation in an aquarium.
The only other thing I can think of that is worth mentioning is that gerbils love sand baths! You can buy some chinchilla sand and put it in a dish and watch your gerbils roll in it to get clean. It is so funny to watch!
I hope you enjoy your new gerbils. They are really very fun! Good luck and I wish you many happy years together!

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