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Gerbil vs. Mouse: Which Is the Better Pet? (Key Differences)

The main difference between gerbils and mice is their color as gerbils are light brown and mice are darker. Mice are more active than gerbils but are significantly more aggressive than the latter. Gerbils also live longer than mice.

Gerbils and mice are both kept as pets by many. They are small rodents, often no more than six inches long.

At first look, gerbils and mice look the same. They have similar physical features making it easy to confuse them for one another. 

In this article, you will learn how to distinguish between the two rodents.

Gerbil vs. Mouse

Gerbils and mice belong to the same Rodentia group. Gerbils are slightly larger than mice and can live almost twice as long as the latter.

Length4 to 6 inches3 to 4 inches
Weight4.2 oz. (120 grams)1.76 oz. (50 grams)
Lifespan2 to 4 years2 years

There are many similarities between gerbils and mice. Both animals belong to the same Rodentia group, along with other rodents such as chinchillas, hamsters, rats, and degus[1]

They also both have short fur, long tails, and large eyes.

Gerbils and mice are found in abundance in the wild. Gerbils are considered exotic pets, while mice are sometimes classified as invasive rodents. 

The Mongolian gerbil is the most common type of gerbil, while the House mouse is the most common type of mouse kept as pets.

Gerbil vs. Mouse: Physical Differences

Gerbils and mice have similar body shapes, with gerbils having smaller ears than mice. Gerbils also have stronger hind legs, which help them stand straight, while mice do not stand up straight often and lack strong hind legs.

Physical differences between gerbils and mice are hard to notice at first glance. 

The biggest differences between them are their tail, size, and face shape.


Gerbil vs. Mouse Size

When it comes to size, both rodents are small and vulnerable. If you observe carefully, you can see that gerbils are slightly larger than mice. They are also heavier than mice.

On average, gerbils grow 4 to 6 inches in length, while mice grow to around 3 to 4 inches. 

The weight of an average adult gerbil is around 4.2 ounces, while mice weigh around 1.7 ounces.


Gerbils and mice both have long tails, as long as their bodies. The biggest difference is that gerbils have flat tails with fur, while mice have furless, pink, and rounded tails.

If you have a fat-tailed gerbil, you can expect a tail more than twice the thickness of a mouse due to its food-storing behavior.


Gerbil vs. Mouse Fur

Gerbils and mice both have short and soft fur. Gerbils usually have a golden agouti coat color, while the most common color of a mouse’s coat is dark gray.[2]

Both mice and gerbils occur in nature in many different colors.

Several breeders mix different color variations breeds to produce babies with desired characteristics. 

Gerbils are usually found at breeders in the following colors:

  • White
  • Black
  • Brown
  • Chocolate
  • Charcoal
  • Mosaic brown
  • Velvet

Mice are also found at several breeders in different colors:

  • Fawn
  • Lilac
  • Bluish grey
  • Dove
  • Champagne
  • Silver fox

It is not uncommon for gerbils to have a white underbelly, while mice are generally in solid colors throughout their bodies.


Gerbil vs. Mouse Face

Mice and gerbils both have long, pointed faces with large round ears that stick out of their heads. This helps them hear predators coming their way and run away.

Mice have larger ears than gerbils which means they also possess better hearing abilities than gerbils.

In contrast to mice, gerbils rely on their eyes more than their hearing. Gerbils have smaller ears compared to mice but have large eyes to identify danger from afar.

Gerbil vs. Mouse: Habitat

Wild mice live in forests and near human residences, while gerbils live in deserts and grasslands. Pet gerbils and mice should live in large tanks or cages with bedding. This allows them to road and nest.

Natural Habitat

Gerbil vs. Mouse Habitat

Gerbils in the wild live in deserts, grasslands, and open fields. They prefer living in hot and dry conditions. Their bodies are adapted to survive the harsh climate, and they can live long periods without much food and water.[3]

Wild mice usually live in the forests or near human establishments. They do not burrow as much as gerbils but make nests near food sources containing multitudes of mice. They are considered invasive species and are present in almost every country in the world.

Cage Requirements

Pet gerbils should be kept in cages of specialized tanks filled with bedding material. They need bedding to burrow and nest. 

Mice should also be kept in cages or tanks measuring around 10 gallons. They should have enough space to run, explore, jump, and play with other mice.

You should clean your pet cages and tanks regularly to avoid bacteria buildup and diseases. Mice smell bad and produce a lot of waste. Gerbils are clean animals but are as bad as mice when it comes to smell.

Pros and Cons of Having a Mouse

Mice are easy to find and don’t cost a lot. They are nocturnal, meaning they are most active during the night and sleep during the day. Mice have a short lifespan and can be åaggressive.

Mice are one of the most found rodents in the world. Some people hate them while others love them. 

Most mice species commonly found in the wild are not kept as pets due to their aggressive nature. Fancy mice are tamer and friendlier than their wild counterparts and are highly social animals.

Pros and Cons of Having a Mouse

Below are some of the pros and cons of having a mouse.


  • Mice are cheap and available at pet stores across the globe.
  • They do not need much maintenance and clean their fur on their own.
  • Mice do not need a lot of space.
  • They are active throughout the day.
  • Their diets are simple and the feeding costs are low.


  • Males smell a lot which can be irritating
  • They have a short lifespan compared to gerbils.
  • They do not make good pets for children due to their aggressive behavior.
  • Mice are extremely fragile and should be handled carefully.

Pros and Cons of Having a Gerbil

Gerbils are low-maintenance rodents, but they smell a lot. They are highly affectionate creatures and love socializing with their owners making them great for children.

Gerbils make excellent pets. They are highly active at night, making them a great pet for individuals working during the day.

Pros and Cons of Having a Gerbil

Some of the pros and cons of having a gerbil are listed below.


  • Gerbils are low-maintenance rodents.
  • They are extremely affectionate.
  • They love socializing and interacting with other gerbils and their owners.
  • Their diet contains inexpensive gerbil pellet mixes and fresh food.
  • Gerbils are highly docile.
  • They can live long periods without food and water.


  • Gerbils smell as bad as mice.
  • They don’t like to be touched for long periods.
  • They are nocturnal and can disturb your sleep if kept in your bedroom.
  • You need to get at least two gerbils to keep them happy and satisfy their social needs.
  • They are noisy at times.


Both gerbils and mice are excellent pets. They are easy to keep and do not require much attention. Proper cleaning and nutrition are all it takes to keep them happy and healthy.

Gerbils are more social than mice and need at least another gerbil with them. The other gerbil should preferably be from the same litter to avoid fights. 

Mice do not have such needs, but it is better to get more than one mouse for your cage as it fulfills their interaction needs.

The maintenance and nutrition requirements of both rodents are generally the same, but gerbils need more bedding than mice to fulfill their burrowing needs.

Other comparisons:


Can Gerbils and Mice Live Together?

No, gerbils and mice should not live together. Both rodents are highly territorial and get aggressive against an intruder. Gerbils are bigger and stronger than mice, and keeping them with mice can result in fights which can be dangerous.

Is Gerbil a Rat?

No, gerbils are not rats. Gerbils and rats are different species of the rodent family. The biggest difference between the two is that gerbils have fur on their tails while rats have furless tails that appear pink.

Are Gerbils Rodents?

Yes, gerbils are rodents belonging to the Rodentia group of mammals. They are in the same group as other rodents such as rats, mice, chinchillas, capybaras, hamsters, and degus. 

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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