Black Gerbil

Scientific NameGerbillus niger
Common NameBlack Gerbil
Care LevelModerate
Lifespan2-3 years
Adult Size9-11 cm in length (excluding tail)
DietHerbivorous (seeds, grains)
OriginNorthern Africa
TemperamentActive, Curious, Social

History & Domestication

Black Gerbils, scientifically termed as Gerbillus niger, have their origins rooted in the arid regions of Northern Africa. This environment has shaped their behavioral and physical traits, making them adept at surviving in challenging desert conditions. Historically, they have thrived by burrowing deep into the sand to escape the relentless heat of the desert sun and to evade predators.

The path to domestication for the Black Gerbil isn’t as widely documented as some other small mammals. It is believed that their attractive appearance, coupled with their curious nature, caught the attention of pet enthusiasts. Over time, these gerbils have found their way into homes around the world, both as pets and as subjects for scientific research.


Typically, an adult Black Gerbil measures between 9 to 11 cm in body length. Their tail can be almost as long as their body, adding another 7-9 cm. Their compact size combined with an active disposition makes them seem larger than they actually are, especially when they are in motion.


When properly cared for, Black Gerbils have a lifespan ranging from 2 to 3 years. While this may seem short, with proper care and attention, they can lead full and active lives. Genetics, diet, and environmental factors play a role in determining their longevity.


Breeding Black Gerbils requires a keen understanding of their behavior. After a gestation period of around 24 days, female gerbils can give birth to a litter of 3-7 pups. Young gerbils grow rapidly and are usually weaned by their fourth week. If one plans to breed, it’s essential to have proper housing arrangements, as gerbils can become territorial.

Unique Features

Apart from their striking black coat, Black Gerbils possess long hind legs which are a distinctive characteristic of gerbils. These legs are perfectly evolved for their hopping motion. Their tails, often covered with a tuft of fur at the end, act as a balancing mechanism when they move.

Behavior and Temperament

Black Gerbils are known for their boundless energy and inquisitiveness. They’re nocturnal by nature but can adjust their schedule slightly to match the routines of their human caregivers. While they are sociable and often enjoy the company of other gerbils, care must be taken when introducing unfamiliar gerbils to each other to avoid potential territorial disputes.


Black Gerbils are typically amiable and can be handled with ease once they’re accustomed to human interaction. When introducing yourself to a new gerbil or a young gerbil, it’s vital to be patient. Gentle, consistent handling will help build trust, making the gerbil more receptive to interactions in the future.

Grooming Needs

Grooming for Black Gerbils is fairly straightforward. They keep themselves clean, and their fur doesn’t usually require any special attention. However, they do appreciate a sand bath, which helps them remove excess oils from their fur. A shallow container with chinchilla sand can be provided a few times a week for this purpose.

Diet & Nutrition

Predominantly herbivorous, Black Gerbils thrive on a diet of seeds and grains. While commercial gerbil food can form the base of their diet, fresh vegetables can be introduced occasionally for added nutrients. Fresh water should always be available. Foods high in moisture or sugar should be given sparingly to avoid digestive issues.


Being desert animals, Black Gerbils are comfortable in a temperate climate. A temperature range of 20-24°C (68-75°F) is ideal. Direct sunlight or drafty areas should be avoided, as abrupt temperature fluctuations can be harmful.

Common Health Issues

Like other gerbils, they are susceptible to respiratory issues, especially when exposed to cold drafts or damp bedding. Overgrown teeth can become a problem if they’re not given enough hard materials to chew on. Regularly checking for signs of distress or illness is essential to ensure their well-being.

Habitat Requirements

Their enclosure should offer ample space for them to burrow and explore. A combination of deep bedding, hiding places, and toys will keep them stimulated. If housed with other gerbils, ensuring a larger space can help in reducing territorial disputes.

Cost of Care

While the initial investment in housing, bedding, and food might seem substantial, the monthly maintenance costs for Black Gerbils are relatively low. Regular expenses would include food, bedding replacements, and occasional toy replacements. Potential owners should consider both immediate and long-term costs before acquiring a Black Gerbil as a pet.

Black Gerbil FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)