Gerbil Cost

How Much Does a Gerbil Cost?

Last Updated on March 11, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

With their energetic and inquisitive personalities packed into a small, furry body, gerbils make great starter pets. But before adopting one of these adorable rodents, it’s important to understand the costs involved.

This guide will break down the initial and ongoing expenses to give you a realistic view of the financial commitment of gerbil ownership.


  • Initial costs for a gerbil with supplies run $150-250
  • Budget $25-40 per month for ongoing food and bedding
  • Annual veterinary care costs around $100-200
  • Expect to invest $400-500 yearly for a healthy, enriched gerbil

How Much Does a Gerbil Cost?

The first expense you’ll encounter is acquiring your gerbil in the first place. The average cost of a gerbil is between $5 and $50, depending mainly on where you’re getting it from. There are a few options:

Purchase from a Pet Store

The average purchase price for a young gerbil from a pet store like PetSmart or Petco ranges from $10-20. This cost covers just the gerbil itself.

Keep in mind gerbils are highly social and do best in pairs. Buying two gerbils from a pet store will run you $20-40.

Adopt from a Shelter

You may be able to adopt a gerbil from an animal shelter or rescue for an adoption fee of $5-10. This helps cover the organization’s care costs.

Adopting a pair of gerbils will cost $10-20. You gain the benefit of giving a home to an animal in need.

Buy from a Breeder

Purchasing a gerbil from a breeder can cost $15-30 depending on lineage and coat colors. Well-bred pet gerbils range from $30-50 for a pair. Show-quality breeds can cost over $100.

On Pocket Pet Central, for example, the initial purchase of a gerbil can range from $10 to $100, and annual expenses may total up to around $400.

An Overview of Gerbils as Pets

Gerbils are desert-dwelling rodents that make lively and interactive pets. Their small size, gentle nature, and minimal care needs make them a popular first pet. Gerbils have an average lifespan of 2-5 years.

Some key characteristics that draw people to gerbils:

  • Social animals that thrive with a companion
  • Minimal odor and allergens compared to other rodents
  • Entertaining to watch as they play and burrow
  • Low-maintenance care and handling

With proper care, gerbils can make wonderful family pets and ideal starter companions for kids. But what will it cost to properly care for one of these furry friends?

Initial Gerbil Setup Costs

In addition to the gerbil itself, you’ll need to purchase essential habitat and care supplies upfront. These one-time costs typically total $80-150.

Gerbil Cage

A large, well-ventilated cage suitable for a pair of gerbils runs $50-100. Look for a tank or wire enclosure at least 10-20 gallons with deep bedding for burrowing. Popular models include:

  • Critter Nation Double Unit (~$140)
  • Kaytee My First Home for Exotics (~$60)
  • DIY bin cage (~$20)

Bedding and Substrate

Bedding like aspen shavings or Carefresh paper bedding costs $10-20 for a large bag that will last 1-2 months. Expect to spend $40-80 annually on substrate.

You might also like our articles about the cost of a ferret, a squirrel, or an otter.

Food Bowl, Water Bottle, and Toys

Essentials like stainless steel bowls, a sipper-style water bottle, hides, and chew toys will run you $20-30 to start.

Exercise Wheel

A solid, appropriately sized exercise wheel is crucial to prevent injury and allow natural activity. Budget $15-25 for a high-quality wheel.

All said, you can expect to spend around $100-200 upfront when first bringing home your gerbil after acquiring the essentials above.

Monthly Gerbil Care and Maintenance

Caring for your gerbil’s ongoing needs doesn’t have to be expensive. Plan on a monthly budget of around $20-40 to cover:

Gerbil Food

Expect to spend $10-15 per month on a quality gerbil food mix and occasional supplements. Look for an extruded fortified diet like Oxbow Essentials.

Bedding and Cage Cleaning

Allot $5-10 per month for new paper or aspen bedding to spot clean soiled areas and replace the substrate regularly.

Toys and Accessories

Budget $5-10 to replenish fun boredom-busting toys, chews, and other cage accessories each month.


Treats like occasional fresh produce and healthy gerbil-safe snacks will cost around $5 per month.

With this monthly budget of $25-40, you can rest assured your gerbil will stay happy and healthy.

Veterinary Costs for Gerbils

Like any pet, gerbils require occasional veterinary care for their health and well-being. Here are typical vet costs:

  • Initial exam: $40-75
  • Annual checkup: $30-50
  • Illness treatment: $100+ (can vary widely)
  • Emergency vet visit: $150+

Plan on a yearly vet budget of $100-200 to cover exams and potential issues. Consider pet insurance which can offset major bills. Policies are around $10-30 per month.

Spaying or neutering is rarely needed for gerbils. But if your vet recommends it, this can cost $150-300.

Enrichment and Accessories

Gerbil Near an AppleEnhancing your gerbil habitat keeps your pet active and engaged. Expect to spend:

  • Toys like tunnels, chews, and hides: $5-15/month
  • Occasional new wheels or hut: $15-30
  • Replacement water bottle: $5-10 annually
  • Grooming supplies like brushes and nail clippers: $10-20 initially

Rotate toys and use DIY solutions to provide enrichment on a budget. Total for accessories: $10-20 per month

How Do Costs Compare to Other Pets?

Compared to other small pets, gerbils are very affordable:

  • Guinea pigs: $600-1000+ per year
  • Rabbits: $700-1200+ per year
  • Rats: $400-800+ per year
  • Hamsters: $300-600+ per year
  • Gerbils: Around $400-500 per year

With their lower space requirements and inexpensive diet, gerbils are one of the most budget-friendly small pet options.

Tips for Saving Money on Gerbil Care

You can curb costs with these money-saving tips:

  • Adopt rather than buy a pet store gerbil
  • Choose a large plastic storage bin cage over a wire or tank enclosure
  • Buy bedding in bulk during sales
  • Make your own toys from cardboard and household items
  • Feed a simple, healthy diet of pellets plus fresh veggies
  • Partner with an exotic vet for lower routine care rates
  • Skip the exercise wheel and encourage playtime outside the cage
  • House gerbils in same-sex pairs to avoid breeding expenses

Final Words

To recap, the initial cost to purchase, adopt, and setup supplies for one gerbil is approximately $150-250. For a pair of gerbils, plan on an upfront investment of $200-350.

The estimated yearly costs for food, bedding, and supplies fall between $250-500 for one to two gerbils. Potential vet bills can drive the yearly costs up for any small pet.

While gerbils make relatively inexpensive pets compared to dogs or cats, they still represent a financial commitment that families should budget for. With proper care and precautions, gerbils can thrive as low-maintenance yet engaging companion pets.

Gerbil Ownership FAQs

How long do gerbils live?

The average lifespan for a pet gerbil is 2-5 years when properly cared for. Some may live up to 8 years. Monitor for signs of aging and provide comfortable care for your senior gerbil.

Should I get 1 or 2 gerbils?

Gerbils are highly social so it’s best to keep them in same-sex pairs or groups. Two gerbils housed together provide each other needed companionship and interaction. A single gerbil can become lonely and depressed.

Are gerbils friendly?

When handled regularly from a young age, gerbils become quite friendly and bonds strongly with their owners. They are naturally curious, active pets that enjoy playing and being around their human families.

Gerbils make relatively affordable starter pets for families who are ready to commit to their specialized care needs. Understanding these key costs allows you to plan your budget and give them the great life they deserve!

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