Gerbil Physical characteristics
The Mongolian gerbil is a small animal. It is approximately twelve centimeters from nose to the base of the tail. Its furry tail adds another six to twelve centimeters. The male has a slightly sturdier posture than the female. It weights between some 53 and 133 grams. The gerbil’s body is slim and has a tight skin. The head is short and wide, with a pointed nose. The wild color of the Mongolian gerbil (the so-called agouti) is achieved by a slate grey hair base, a yellow color in the middle and a black top. The belly and the paws are beige to white. The coat should have a silky shine. This shine is the result of discharge from a gland on the belly. Both sexes have such a gland, with which they can spread their smell on objects and other animals of their kind. During the cleaning, they spread the substance, which contains pheromones (aromatic hormones), over their coat. Each gerbil has its unique smell, which helps the animal to identify each other. The gerbil’s body temperature is between 37.4 and 39 Celsius. Its respiration rate is 70 to 120 per minute, and the heartbeat is 260 to 600 per minute. Gerbils live for about three years; in some exceptional cases they can reach the age of five. The underside of the female is slightly rounder, and the anus and the vagina are closer together than the male anus and penis. You can see the scrotum at the base of the tail on a (almost) grown male.
Gerbils are often considered to be mice. There are, however, many differences between there two rodents. Gerbils dig holes, which mice do not. They both have shiny red or black eyes, but the gerbil’s eyes are rounder and bigger. The gerbil’s head is rounder and wider (like a squirrel’s). Its back legs are longer than the front legs, whereas the mouse’s legs are all the same length. Another unique characteristic of the gerbil is a small hairless spot on the otherwise completely fur-covered sole of the back paw. They also have a long, furry tail with a wisp of hair at the end. Mice have naked (hairless) tails. One difference that cannot be noticed at first sight is that the upper incisors of the gerbil have a groove lengthways, which is lacking on mice.