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Fat-Tailed Gerbil: Habitat, Appearance, Facts and Care Guide

The fat-tailed gerbil, or duprasi gerbil, is a rodent found in the wild and kept as pets. They have thick furry tails that contain fat. They are one of the most docile members of the rodent family. Fat-tailed gerbils are smaller than hamsters and squirrels making them one of the tiniest rodents.

There are many rodents in the world. Some of them are kept as house pets due to their attractive characteristics, while others reside in the wild.

Gerbils are among the most common pet rodents, kept because of their low-maintenance needs and fluffy appearance.

They are also called duprasi gerbils or doop, known for their soft fur and fat tails, which are used for fat storage.

This article discusses the character traits and personality of fat-tailed gerbils and why gerbils make good pets.

Fat-Tailed Gerbil

Fat-tailed gerbils have small bodies, fluffy fur, and fat tails. They are known as pocket pets due to their small size. They are also the only gerbil species of the Pachyuromys genus.

Fat-tailed gerbils are the only other gerbils commonly kept as pets besides the Mongolian gerbil. They were first discovered in 1880 by an Algerian biologist Fernand Lataste.[1]

Their nature is docile, making them great pets for families with small children.

Fat-Tailed Gerbils
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Fat-tailed gerbils are found in the desert, mostly in the Mediterranean region. Wild and pet fat-tailed gerbils love to burrow, as they usually live in the ground.

Scientific NamePachyuromys Duprasi

What is the Difference Between Mongolian and Fat-Tailed Gerbils?

Mongolian gerbils are found in the Mongolian region, while the fat-tailed gerbils are found in the Mediterranean region. The former is larger than the latter at around five to six inches in length.

Fat-tailed gerbils are smaller and are three to four inches. They also weigh less than their Mongolian counterparts. Mongolian gerbils do not have fat-tailed like fat-tailed gerbils.

Fat-Tailed Gerbil Pictures

Fat-tailed gerbils are adorable and sweet. They have extremely soft fur and fat tails, making them unique pets. Some of the visuals of fat-tailed gerbils are given below.

Fat-Tailed Gerbil Pictures
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Fat-Tailed Gerbil Characteristics

Fat-tailed gerbils are one of the smallest rodents in the world. They love digging and live in the harsh climate of the deserts. They are a mix of yellow and grey, which helps them blend into their natural habitat.

Physical CharacteristicsGerbils
Length3 to 4 inches
Weight70 to 120 grams
ColorYellow grey
Skin TypeFur

Fat-tailed gerbils are one of the smaller species of gerbils. They are usually three to four inches long and weigh up to 4.2 oz. (120 grams). 

Before getting a fat-tailed gerbil for your family, you should know about its character traits.

Fat-Tailed Gerbil Habitat

Fat-tailed gerbils are commonly found in the rocky deserts of the Mediterranean region. They are also found in coastal areas where they burrow deep in the ground.

Because they live in deserts, they love to dig.

Fat-tailed gerbils need a hot and dry environment to remain happy. But, due to them living in harsh climates in the wild, they don’t need much water.

Fat-Tailed Gerbil Habitat

Physical Appearance

Fat-tailed gerbils are small compared to Mongolian and Great gerbils. They also have long and fluffy fur, but their most iconic physical traits are their tails. They have small, fat tails which give the gerbils their name.

They also have oval eyes and pink ears. 

Fat-tailed gerbils are yellow in color, with traces of grey running through their back and head. They have a white underbelly and feet, much like other gerbils. The yellow color of their fur helps them hide from predators in the desert as their hair blends in the sand.

Fat-tailed gerbils have little hair on their paws and ears.

Personality and Behavior

Fat-tailed gerbils are loving and sociable rodents. They love interacting with their owners and other gerbils. They walk slowly and sleep standing upright.

As for their activity pattern, fat-tailed gerbils are nocturnal. They remain asleep during the day and usually wake up late at night. 

They make nests in their cages to sleep in. Nesting also helps them find a place to run away from danger. As pets, fat-tailed gerbils make nests out of bedding material and hide in it during the day.

Gerbils do not mind being touched. They can sit and lay on your hand comfortably after training. Fat-tailed gerbils usually do not bite their owners but can do so if startled.

You should not keep multiple female fat-tailed gerbils in a single compartment cage as they are protective of their babies. They turn aggressive and try to eat each other when kept together. 

Female fat-tailed gerbils sometimes also eat their newborn babies.

Personality and Behavior
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Why Are Fat-Tailed Gerbils’ Tails Fat?

Fat-tailed gerbils have fat tails because they store fat and water there to accommodate for the lack of resources in the desert environment. A thin tail is a sign that they suffer from malnutrition.

The name “fat-tailed gerbils”, comes from the fact that their tails are swollen (fat) and short.

Much like camels storing water in their humps, fat-tailed gerbils store fat and water in their tails, which they use for consumption when there is a food shortage.[2] 

Food and water are generally scarce in the desert, so when they come across it, they make the most of it. Storing food and water helps remove the dependence on a constant supply and keeps them healthy.

The tails are club-shaped and small. An average tail size of a fat-tailed gerbil is around two inches. 

If the tail of your fat-tailed gerbil is too thin, it is not getting adequate nutrition.

Fat-Tailed Gerbil Lifespan

Fat-tailed gerbils are long-lived rodents. The average lifespan of fat-tailed gerbils is around five to seven years. Several issues such as predators, harsh climate, diseases, and dental issues can significantly lower their lifespan.

Compared to other small animals, fat-tailed gerbils are long-lived. They can live an average of five to seven years, depending on their health and nutrition.

The lifespan of fat-tailed gerbils is heavily impacted by many factors:

  • Predators
  • Cold weather
  • Lack of food and water
  • Improper teeth growth
  • Pneumonia
  • Seizures
  • Ear infections
  • Tumors
  • Tyzzer’s disease[3]

Do Fat-Tailed Gerbils Make Good Pets?

Yes, fat-tailed gerbils make great pets. They are suitable for families of all ages. These rodents go well with children due to their loving nature and docile behavior.

If you are starting out in the world of pets, getting a fat-tailed gerbil as your first is a great idea. They don’t need much attention and are easy pets to keep.

Fat-tailed gerbils are also great with children due to their docile nature. They are not violent and are affectionate towards their owners. 

They also rarely ever bite.

If you work during the day, nocturnal pets are great. This ensures that your get to interact with them when you come home from work, as this is when they wake up.

Do Fat-Tailed Gerbils Make Good Pets
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Fat-Tailed Gerbil Care Guide

Keep your fat-tailed gerbil properly fed and hydrated. Add chew toys in their cage so they can file their teeth and prevent dental issues.

Caring for a fat-tailed gerbil isn’t much of an effort as they have few essential needs.

Housing or shelter is a basic requirement for any pet. Cages and tanks with safety lids are the best ways to contain your pet. Fat-tailed gerbils are small, so letting them walk around the house can be dangerous.

Aside from a cage, you also need to fulfill the following needs:

  • Food and water
  • Bedding
  • Attention
  • Chew toys

Food and Water Needs

All living beings need energy from food to survive. Fat-tailed gerbils are no exception. 

Fat-tailed gerbils usually eat insects as vegetation is hard to find in the deserts, but they can eat some plants. Gerbil pellet mixes work great for pets as they provide all of their nutritional needs. You can buy pellets from your local pet shop.

Add some fresh fruits and vegetables along with two tablespoons of the pellet mix to your fat-tailed gerbil’s diet. This helps it get additional vitamins.

Exercise moderation when feeding fruits and vegetables to your gerbil.

Fat-tailed gerbils also need water, though not a lot. Hang a water bottle on the side of their cage and change it every few days, or when close to empty.


Fat-Tailed Gerbil Bedding

Fat-tailed gerbils are nesting animals and need bedding to burrow and nest. Bedding for gerbils also keeps their cage clean, as it absorbs litter. It has to be changed weekly, and it has to be soft to protect their feet from the rough cage floor.


While they don’t need a lot of interaction, fat-tailed gerbils do need some. It can take a while for them to get used to your touch, but after they recognize your scent, they become comfortable with your presence.

If your pet does not hide from you but instead comes closer, you can pick it up in your hand. Do it gently as they have delicate bodies.

Chew Toys

Chew toys are essential for most rodents as their teeth grow continuously throughout their lives. Toys help fat-tailed gerbils file their teeth and avoid dental issues. If their teeth are not trimmed properly, they become uneven, making it difficult for them to eat properly.

Do not give them chew toys made from plastic as they easily bite them, which is not good for their health. 

Cardboard and small wood chunks make excellent chew toys.


Fat-tailed gerbils are excellent pets. They are nocturnal and are active during the night. These rodents are affectionate and loving. You can easily keep a fat-tailed gerbil as your pet as they are compatible with children. Fat-tailed gerbils live up to seven years which is a long time for rodents.

They also don’t need much attention and can live on low amounts of water. If you’re looking for a nocturnal and loving pet, a fat-tailed gerbil is a good choice for you.


How Long Do Fat-Tailed Gerbils Live?

Fat-tailed gerbils have an average lifespan of five to seven years. This depends on various factors such as health, hygiene, diseases, nutrition, and dental problems. Proper care and visits to a vet are essential in keeping your fat-tailed gerbil happy and healthy.

Where Can You Get a Fat-Tailed Gerbil?

Fat-tailed gerbils are mostly found in the wild, but they can also be purchased from gerbil breeders. Fat-tailed gerbils are rare and can be difficult to find due to their popularity. Make sure to buy from a professional breeder to get the healthiest pet. 

About Misfit Animals Staff

The Misfit Animals staff consists of animal lovers, pet enthusiasts, veterinarians, zoologists, and other animal experts. Our goal is to provide people with information on proper animal care.

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