Mongolian Gerbil

Mongolian Gerbil

Mongolian jird

Meriones unguiculatus
Population size
Life Span
2-3 yrs
60-130 g
110-135 mm

The Mongolian gerbil is a small burrowing rodent often used in science and kept as a small house pet. Their use in science dates back to the latter half of the 19th century but these small animals became popular as pets in the English-speaking world after 1954, when they were brought to the United States.


Mongolian gerbils are found in China, Mongolia, and the Russian Federation. They inhabit grassland, shrubland, and desert, including semidesert and steppes. They prefer sandy soil that is covered with grasses, herbs, and shrubs. The steppes have cool, dry winters and hot summers where the temperature can get up to 50 °C (122 °F), but the average temperature for most of the year is around 20 °C (68 °F).

Mongolian Gerbil habitat map



Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Mongolian gerbils are very social animals; they live in patriarchal groups generally consisting of one parental pair, the most recent litter, and a few older pups, sometimes the dominant female's sister(s) also live with them. Each group of gerbils occupies a territory that generally ranges over 325-1,550 square meters (0.08-0.38 acres). A group lives in a central burrow with 10-20 exits, however, some deeper burrows with only 1 to 3 exits in their territory may also exist. These deeper burrows are used to escape from predators when they are too far from the central burrow. A group's burrows often interconnect with other groups. Mongolian gerbils rely on their sense of smell to identify other members of their clan and may attack and often kill those carrying an unfamiliar scent. These small animals are diurnal but may also be active during the night. They spend much of their time foraging and are known to store food in burrows for later. During the hottest and coldest part of the day, they typically hide in their burrows and stay inactive in order to save energy.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Mongolian gerbils are herbivores (graminivores) and eat various grasses and flowering plants. They may also consume fruits, berries, seeds, and grains.

Mating Habits

23-26 days
4-8 pups

Mongolian gerbils are monogamous and mate with their selected partner for the rest of their time together. Within each family group, only the dominant females will produce pups and they will mate only with the dominant male. Mongolian gerbils breed during the months of February and October. The gestation period usually lasts 23-26 days and the average litter size is around 4-8 pups. The young are born blind, naked, and helpless weighing about 2.5 grams each. They are weaned at 1.5 months old and become reproductively mature between 2 and 5 months of age.


Population threats

Mongolian gerbils are not considered threatened at present. However, they suffer from wildfires and are often persecuted as pests.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Mongolian gerbil total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Mongolian gerbils have a wide hearing range, from the detection of low-frequency foot drumming to higher frequency chirps.
  • Mongolian gerbils enjoy sand bathing. They do this to maintain fur healthy and to remove excess oil.
  • Mongolian gerbils have become popular small house pets because they are social and gentle, and do not bite readily. They also have adapted their kidneys to produce a minimum of waste to conserve body fluids, which makes them very clean with little odor.


1. Mongolian Gerbil on Wikipedia -
2. Mongolian Gerbil on The IUCN Red List site -

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