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Gerbils & Hamsters/Companion for gerbil left?


My girls
My girls  
Hi Sheila!  We purchased two white with red eyes gerbils last April 2013. Both females,the bigger one we named April and the smaller one Emma. Just last Friday we went to 'de-fluff' the girls cage and noticed April acting strangely. We found Emma off to the side of the tank passed on but still warm, she must have passed just that day or hours before. We cleaned out the tank and put April back in with a new water bottle and coconut 'house'. Now our concern lies with the fact that April was the 'protector' of Emma and loved to lie on top of her as they slept/snuggled and is noticeably seemingly 'sad'. As April is only a little over a year old, do you recommend us getting a new younger female companion or try to just let her be on her own.  We had purchased the two knowing how social gerbils are and had expected another 3 years or so with both of them. Thank you for any advice Sheila!

Hi Tracy

I'm really sorry to hear about Emma. It is very sad when this happens and one gerbil is left on their own.

Whilst gerbils live in colonies in the wild, this is an extended family. In captivity you can get them to live together if they are related although there are never any guarantees they will not fight. However, when one dies it is very difficult to introduce another one. The only way this tends to work is to mate her then separate the male. However this comes with risks - firstly if you don't get the male out soon enough they will mate again the day a litter is born. Secondly you've got no guarantee there will be any females in the litter so April could still end up alone. Thirdly the male would end up living alone as once separated from the litter as it is hard if not impossible to reintroduce him to any males in the litter.

I've been in a similar situation a few times and each time have kept the gerbil on their own but made a real fuss of them -I've  made sure they had loads to do so they didn't get bored and got lots of attention - they seemed to be fine. I decided it was better to do that and let them have a great life on their own rather risk trying to introduce them to another and find that they fight and bully each other.

I would strongly recommend keeping her on her own.

I hope this helps you.

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Sheila Adby


Syrian hamsters are my specialty, however, I have kept Campbells,Winter Whites and gerbils in the past. I can advise on most subjects associated with hamsters, including housing, bedding, feeding, handling, new borns and catching escapees. I have had some experience of various health problems with hamsters and can offer my opinion and advice on basic health issues, however I am not a qualified vet and therefore cannot recommend drugs etc. My website is


I have been keeping hamsters and other small animals for more than 12 years. My favourites are Syrian hamsters and I foster litters and 'difficult' hamsters for a rescue centre. My job is to tame hamsters ready for re-homing, which is extremely rewarding. I also enjoy looking after new litters and raising the pups. I have co-written a book on hamsters with my local vet and have a website:

Hamsters in Sickness and in Health - Sheila Adby and Dan O'Neill ISBN186163218-5 (Capall Bann Publishing)

Educated to A Level standard in the UK.

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