How to Pick Up a Gerbil for the First Time?

Welcoming a gerbil into your home is an exciting moment filled with anticipation and joy. These small, inquisitive creatures can bring a lot of happiness into your life.

However, it’s crucial to start off on the right foot, especially when it comes to handling them for the first time. In this guide I’ll walk you through understanding gerbil behavior, and how to pick up a gerbil for the first time.

Understanding Gerbils Nature

Gerbil Behavior and Temperament

Gerbils are known for their social, curious nature. They thrive in environments where they can explore and interact. Unlike some small pets that might prefer solitude, gerbils seek companionship, which can include their human caretakers. Recognizing this social need is the first step in forming a strong, trusting relationship with your gerbil.

Preparing Your Gerbil for Handling

Before you attempt to pick up your gerbil, it’s essential to let them adjust to their new surroundings. This adjustment period allows your gerbil to become familiar with the sights, sounds, and smells of their new home.

During this time, introduce your scent to your gerbil by placing your hand near their habitat, allowing them to investigate at their own pace. This slow introduction helps reduce stress and builds curiosity about their human friend.

Also read: How To Clean Out A Gerbil Cage?

How to Pick Up a Gerbil?

a hand holding a gerbil

Building Trust Before Handling

Trust is the cornerstone of your relationship with your gerbil. Spend time near their cage every day, talking softly to acquaint them with your voice. Offering treats from your hand can also encourage your gerbil to approach you, associating your presence with positive experiences.

Safe Handling Techniques

When your gerbil seems comfortable with your presence, you can begin to think about picking them up. Here’s a step-by-step guide to do it safely:

  • Ensure a Calm Environment: Before attempting to handle your gerbil, make sure the room is quiet and free from sudden movements or loud noises that could startle them.
  • Let Them Come to You: Place a treat on your open hand and gently place it inside the cage. Wait patiently for your gerbil to approach and climb onto your hand.
  • Scoop Gently: Once your gerbil is comfortable on your hand, use your other hand to gently scoop them up, supporting their body from underneath.
  • Hold Securely but Gently: Your gerbil should feel secure but not restrained. Avoid squeezing or holding too tightly, as this could cause fear or injury.

What Not to Do When Handling a Gerbil?

  • Never Lift by the Tail: Gerbils have delicate tails that can be injured if lifted incorrectly. Always support their body when picking them up.
  • Avoid Sudden Movements: Quick, jerky movements can scare your gerbil. Move slowly and smoothly to keep them calm.

Also read: How To Take Care Of A Gerbil?

Aftercare and Bonding

Setting Down Your Gerbil Safely

When it’s time to return your gerbil to their cage, lower your hand slowly and allow them to step off at their own pace. This reassures them that they’re in control, reducing stress and building confidence in their interactions with you.

Continuing to Build Trust

Consistency is key in forming a bond with your gerbil. Regular, gentle handling sessions not only help your gerbil get used to being held but also reinforce the trust between you. Pay attention to their body language and vocalizations, as these can indicate their comfort level and help you adjust your approach accordingly.

Advanced Handling Tips for Gerbil Owners

After mastering the basics of picking up and interacting with your gerbil, you might be ready to explore more advanced handling techniques and activities to further enrich your pet’s life.

Creating a Bonding Routine

Establishing a routine can significantly enhance the bond between you and your gerbil. Dedicate time each day for handling and play, allowing your gerbil to anticipate and look forward to these interactions. Use this time to introduce new toys or treats, making each session a novel experience for your pet.

Interactive Play and Exercise

Gerbils require regular exercise to maintain their health and happiness. Incorporate interactive play into your handling sessions by using toys that encourage your gerbil to climb, dig, and explore. Exercise wheels, tunnels, and safe, supervised play outside the cage can provide excellent physical activity and mental stimulation.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Handling Gerbils

Handling your gerbil properly is crucial for their well-being and your mutual enjoyment. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:


While regular interaction is important, too much handling can stress your gerbil. Pay attention to signs of stress or fatigue, such as trying to escape, biting, or hiding, and give your gerbil a break when needed.

Ignoring Body Language

Gerbils communicate their comfort and discomfort through body language. Ignoring these cues can lead to stress and fear. Always be attentive and responsive to your gerbil’s behavior during handling sessions.


How long should I wait before trying to handle my new gerbil?

Give your new gerbil a few days to adjust to their new environment before attempting to handle them. This adjustment period helps reduce stress and allows your gerbil to become familiar with their surroundings and your presence.

What should I do if my gerbil bites me?

If your gerbil bites you, remain calm and gently place them back in their cage. Biting can be a sign of fear or stress, so give your gerbil some time to relax before trying to handle them again. Ensure your hands are clean and free of food smells that might confuse your pet.

Can children handle gerbils?

Yes, children can handle gerbils under adult supervision. Teach children how to gently scoop up and hold gerbils, emphasizing the importance of quiet, calm movements and the need to respect the gerbil’s comfort level.


Handling your gerbil for the first time is an exciting step in your journey as a pet owner. By following these guidelines, avoiding common mistakes, and responding to your gerbil’s needs, you can ensure a positive experience for both you and your furry friend.

Remember, patience and consistency are key to building a strong, trusting relationship with your gerbil. Enjoy the process of getting to know each other, and cherish the unique bond you’ll form with your new companion.

Hi there! I'm Emily Watson, your go-to guide for all things gerbil care on Furry Pets Guide! With years of firsthand experience raising these furry critters, I'm here to share tips, tricks, and heartfelt stories to make your gerbil journey a breeze.

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