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The Cost Of Owning a Gerbil (2023 Update)

By Eddie Chevrel


Updated on

When it comes to gerbils, these furry little creatures are a fan favorite second to hamsters. Yet first-time owners might be wondering, what are the overall costs for getting their food and habitat set up? This overall guide will tell you what they need and how much it will cost you to own pet gerbils.

How Much Does a Gerbil Cost?

In general, the starting price of a Mongolian gerbil in a pet store is between $5 and $20. Fat-tail gerbils cost between $20 and $50. Gerbils that have mutation colors (spotted, mottled) will cost up to $50, while special select colors cost up to $100 per gerbil.

Standard mixed colors$5-20 USDbasic single color or mixed
Mutation colors$15-50 USDspotted, mottled, or head markings
Special select colorsup to $100 USDPied and heavy mottled
Fat-tailed gerbils $20-$50 USDbasic single color or mixed

Certain colors in the gerbil family have over 40 different variants that also include different coats, strips, mottling, and patterns. The basic coats that you see that are found in pet stores will be the most common colors. These colors include yellow, white, brown, black, and tan. The rarer the color, the more expensive the gerbil.

Owners will often buy a pair because they are social creatures that do better when in a group. So if you decide to buy two Mongolian gerbils, that will cost $10-40 in general. If you want to have more, you can choose a male and a female that will inevitably reproduce. Most owners who don’t want to deal with babies should get two females or two males.

Show quality gerbils

If you are after a very specific fur coat or pattern, an exhibition show is a place where you want to go to get your unique gerbil. The American Gerbil Society is an active force that has exhibitions all over the US showing off some impressive gerbils. These are all carefully bred for their incredible coats and colors and this will be reflected in the prices, so you should expect to pay up to $100 USD for a rare gerbil.

While the AGS has an extensive list of breeders, they can be contacted for buying baby gerbils at a cost. They can ask whatever price defines how they have bred certain rare breeds. While most of the breeders are used to selling to other professional breeders, they may also be looking to create further color combinations that they will put up for an exhibition.

How much do fat-tail gerbils cost?

Fat-tail gerbils are more expensive than their Mongolian cousin, $20-$50 per head. This isn’t exactly a rare breed but it is very easy to keep due to its happy-go-lucky disposition. They have shorter and fatter tails than most gerbils and have a unique look overall.

Associated costs of owning a gerbil

We’ve broken down each expense related to owning a pet gerbil in this section so that the purchase of this tiny critter does not come with an unpleasant surprise. The good news is, after the initial one-off purchase of the gerbil’s cage and a few accessories, gerbils are fairly low-maintenance pets.

Gerbil Accessories – Cost Breakdown

Cage or tank$50-150 USDcage size will depend on how many gerbils you have
Hiding house and nesting box$20-30 USDShould be wood or ceramic
Hanging food tray$5-20 USDonly made from metal or wood
Water Bottle $10-15 USD 
Bedding shavings$10only made from edible aspen shavings
Various wooden chew toys$10-20 USD 
Gerbil wheel$20-35 USD 
Pellets$20-25 USDper 10Lb bag- this is enough for 4 or 5 months
Dried snacks and goodies$20various seeds, dried fruits, and snacks

Gerbil associated recurring cost – Initial, week, month, and year overview

Initial start-up costs$250-270 USDfor housing + accessories
 $50-75 USDgerbil’s food and snacks for the first 5 months
Weekroughly $3.50 USD per weekhay, pellets, and veggies
Month$13-25 USD per monthdepending on the food you buy
Year$156-300 USD per yearfood and a gerbil toy or two

When you buy a gerbil from a pet store they might be centered on selling products too. You could end up buying too many needless items that they will push on you. Most of the time these items are overpriced and you could buy them online for cheaper.

What are some gerbil health costs?

It doesn’t hurt to take your gerbils to see a vet at least once a year. These visits are not very expensive and your vet will take care of potential teeth problems if they develop. Here’s what you can expect from vet costs.

Vet costs per year$25-35your gerbil’s annual visit
Neutering/spaying$60-100depending on the vet you choose
Various treatments$100 and upfor any emergency visit

They don’t need injections at all unless they are very malnourished. If they have an infection or skin sore, they might get a shot to reduce the spread of bacteria inside them.

Other factors that will determine the price of a gerbil

Buying a gerbil from a private breeder

The cost you can expect from a private breeder all depends on the rarity, color, pattern, and origin of the gerbil you buy. The price can be negotiated when you contact them but in general, you can figure that pricing can be upwards of $20 (or more) per gerbil.

Those who decide to buy their gerbil from a private breeder should check that these breeders are raising them correctly. Contacting The American Gerbil Society will help you get in touch with qualified breeders. While it’s pretty common that pet stores will have plenty of gerbils, they might be bred poorly.

Buying from a qualified breeder means that the quality of your gerbil is going to be improved. There is also less chance that you could have flea or parasite problems. If you locate a local breeder, ask them which gerbil societies they belong to – this will tell you they are raising them ethically and correctly.

Is the price of gerbils much different in other countries?

Typically the cost is going to remain the same all throughout the US, and the cost will vary depending on your country. In places like the UK or Canada, these are adjusted for the price difference. These animals aren’t so easy to ship and it isn’t recommended to import them.

In the UK, the price will run about 25 pounds for a pair which is 12 pounds per gerbil. This breaks down to $16.00 per gerbil. As far as Canada is concerned the cost will be $5-15 per gerbil which translates into $4-12, which is quite cheaper than the US.

The most important thing is determining if gerbils are allowed as pets in certain US states. If you live in Hawaii or California, these small animals aren’t allowed because the threat of gerbils creating wild colonies can be damaging to their ecosystem.

Prices of adult gerbils VS baby gerbils

The price will be the same for a baby as it would for an adult. Since most people aren’t buying a fully grown gerbil, most pet owners want to raise a younger gerbil so they can be trained. This is so they learn your scent and become tame around you, otherwise, they may try to bite.

You can buy a baby gerbil when they are about 6 or 7 weeks old, but breeders start handling them when they are just over two weeks.

Why are gerbils so inexpensive?

Gerbils are surprisingly cheap because they are fairly common. Just like hamsters and guinea pigs, they are popular for being pocket pets. The initial cost of buying all the stuff they need including the cage and supplies is the biggest part of owning gerbils. You can initially spend $250 or more on just getting everything. But on average, the costs to feed a gerbil are surprisingly low.

Should I buy two gerbils or is one enough?

Gerbils are socially active in groups but make perfect pets if you have more than one gerbil in a cage. They aren’t well suited as a single pet and can become mentally damaged as a result. The rule of thumb is two is company and three is just as merry.

Most first-time owners will be content with two in the beginning but might want more later. Just be aware that you need to increase the size of a cage by 1 square foot for each gerbil added in a standard 12 x 12 x 24-inch cage.

Same-sex pairs are preferable in a cage or tank since a male and a female kept in the same enclosure could have dozen of babies in a year, which will inevitably increase the associated cost of keeping both the adults and their progeny.

How do gerbil prices compare to other exotic pets?

Price of Gerbil VS Rat

Rats only cost between $5-10 at most and are as common as you can get. Since they are larger than a gerbil by length and overall size, rats are big eaters that like to hoard their food in addition to eating all they can. You only need a single rat but their cage needs to be pretty large as they grow. Food expenses are higher than for gerbils for this reason.

Rats don’t need to go to the vet so often but a vet visit can be costly when it comes to emergencies. These can cost upwards of $100 or more if they need shots or medical care.

Price of Gerbil VS Guinea pig

Guinea pigs are larger than gerbils and they only cost a bit more with a single guinea pig costing $10-40, which is a bit pricier than your average gerbil. The overall cost can go up since guinea pigs are hungry little eaters too.

You might spend nearly $200 or so just for the initial setup and spend about 5 dollars per week on food. Then you have to think about vet visits that will be $40-50 per annual visit. If you need to take them in for emergency service, this will cost $100 minimum.

Price of Gerbil VS Hamster

Hamsters are nearly the same price as a gerbil and only costs about $5-10 per hammy. If you buy a Syrian or Chinese hamster you only need one since these breeds like being alone.

Aside from the Syrian and Chinese hamsters, the other hamster breeds need partners. You will also need to get them a cage and supplies, which is costing another $200 or so. Even though they can cost you $10 each month for food and bedding, they are as affordable as gerbils.

Like any pocket pet, doctor visits will be costly with $100-120 USD for an emergency visit.

What should I check before buying a gerbil?

You need to start by looking for a good source to buy a gerbil. I recommend seeking a private breeder since you can get healthier gerbils. You can also avoid getting mass-bred gerbils that might have been raised in dirty or poor conditions.

  • Signs of illness: You don’t want to buy a sick gerbil, this will be hard to treat and will be a very costly vet visit. Aside from that, make sure their eyes aren’t goopy or leaking or covered with crust. They should also appear healthy-looking and not be lethargic.
  • Shiny and soft fur: This can also indicate a bigger problem if their fur is dirty or matted. If they smell, this can be a sign they are getting sick or have some skin problem you can’t see. You wouldn’t want to buy a dirty gerbil anyway and if they have dirty fur it’s a bad sign already.
  • Feet that aren’t covered with sores: This can happen if your gerbil is raised in a cage that has little bedding material to walk around. Gerbils like to burrow and if their feet are covered with sores or have bumblefoot, they are scratching down to the bottom of a dirty cage. Just have them lift up a gerbil so you can inspect the feet to see they are healthy and clean.

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About Eddie Chevrel

Eddie Chevrel is an animal journalist and the founder of ThePetSavvy. He's very passionate about exotic pets and spends most of his free time doing research, meeting, and interviewing people working with animals. Learn more about The Pet Savvy's Editorial Process.