Skip to content Skip to footer

Do Gerbils Eat Each Other for Food?!

do gerbils eat each other

This might sound strange, but do gerbils eat each other?

If you own a gerbil as a pet, you might have come to fear this.

We do see animals eating their counterparts in the wild all the time and it can be scary, but it appears quite normal.

Gerbils are certainly friendly and adorable creatures, but they also have unique attributes that make them interesting pets. 

They are social animals and thrive in pairs or groups, making them great companions for those who want a pet that can interact with them.

 They are also active and agile creatures, known for their energetic play and love for climbing, burrowing, and running. 

If you want to discover if gerbils eat their own kind, read on my friend!

Do Gerbils Eat Each Other?

two gerbils in bowl

Gerbils are social animals that live in groups in the wild, and they often form close bonds with their cage mates in captivity.

 Still, it’s not uncommon for gerbils to exhibit aggressive behavior towards each other, particularly if they are of the same sex or if they are introduced to a new cage mate.

 In some cases, gerbils may even resort to cannibalism, which can be a shocking and distressing behavior for pet owners to witness.

Though it might be considered rare for gerbils to eat each other, it can happen in certain situations. 

Reasons Why Gerbils May Eat Each Other


Gerbils, like all animals, can experience stress. In cramped or noisy environments, they might resort to nibbling as a form of stress relief.

 This behavior resembles how humans might chew their nails when anxious. Creating a calm and spacious habitat can reduce their stress levels and minimize this behavior.

Territorial Instincts

Gerbils are known to be territorial creatures. When they are in the process of establishing dominance or marking their territory, they might resort to nipping each other.

This behavior helps them define personal space boundaries within their shared environment.

Hunger and Scarcity

In cases of food scarcity, gerbils may explore unconventional sources of sustenance, including nibbling on each other.

 This behavior is a response to their survival instincts, as they seek alternative food sources when their usual options are limited.

Sign of Sickness

Gerbils may exhibit nibbling behavior when one of their companions is unwell.

This reaction could be due to their heightened senses, allowing them to detect changes in scent or behavior. Nibbling might be a way of trying to understand or “help” their sick cage mate.

Watercolor gerbil

Say What!

Gerbils are best kept in pairs or groups of the same sex from a young age. Introduce them early to minimize territorial disputes.

Do Gerbils Eat Their Own Babies?

Gerbils are known for being excellent parents and are usually very protective of their offspring.

 There have been instances where gerbils have been observed eating their own babies. 

This behavior is not common, and it typically occurs when the gerbil senses that the babies are not healthy or if there is a shortage of resources.

Gerbils are instinctively wired to survive in the wild, where resources are scarce, and predators are abundant. 

In such harsh environments, gerbils must make tough decisions to ensure their survival.

 Sometimes, this means sacrificing the weaker members of their litter. In captivity, where resources are abundant, such behavior is rarely necessary. 

However, if a gerbil senses that resources are scarce, or if the babies are sick or weak, they may consume their offspring to conserve resources and increase their own chances of survival. 

As a pet owner, you must provide adequate resources, such as food, water, and nesting materials, to prevent such behavior from occurring.

Watercolor gerbil

I Need Space!

Provide a spacious habitat with plenty of hiding spots, tunnels, and toys. This helps prevent territory disputes and gives gerbils space to avoid each other if needed.

Will One Gerbil Eat Another Gerbil?

Gerbils are social animals that naturally live in groups. 

Introducing a new gerbil to an established group can be a delicate process. 

In some cases, gerbils may become aggressive toward each other, potentially leading to injury or even death. 

So, the question is- will one gerbil eat another gerbil?

Gerbils are not known to eat each other normally. 

While they may display some aggressive behavior, such as biting or chasing, this is usually part of the normal process of establishing a hierarchy within the group.

 You have to introduce new gerbils gradually and monitor their behavior closely to ensure that they are getting along. 

Providing plenty of space, hiding spots, and resources such as food and water can also help reduce the likelihood of aggression.

 If you perform the introduction process properly, gerbils can live together peacefully and enjoy each other’s company.

dead gerbil

Do Gerbils Eat Each Other When They Die?

They are known for their playful and curious nature, and they often exhibit a high level of affection toward their cage mates.

Do gerbils eat their dead kin? 

They do have a natural instinct to survive in the wild.

 This instinct drives them to eat anything they can find, including their own kind.

When gerbils die, their bodies become a source of protein and nutrients for the other gerbils in the colony.

 This behavior is known as cannibalism and is common among many rodent species.

Some gerbils may eat the dead body, while others may simply bury it.

Apart from providing nutrition, eating a dead gerbil also helps to prevent the spread of disease within the colony.

 Dead bodies can attract insects and other scavengers, which can carry bacteria and other harmful pathogens.

Eating the body of a dead gerbil reduces the risk of disease transmission and helps to keep the colony healthy. 

A dead body can also attract predators which could kill the entire colony of gerbils.

While cannibalism may seem shocking to humans, it is a natural behavior for gerbils and is an important part of their survival strategy in the wild.

Do Gerbils Kill Each Other?

Gerbils can become aggressive towards each other and may even kill each other.

The main reason why gerbils may kill each other is due to territorial aggression. 

This occurs when two gerbils are placed in a small or insufficiently sized enclosure, and they feel like they need to defend their territory.

In such cases, they may fight for resources such as food, water, or nesting space. This may lead to severe injuries or even death.

In the wild though, gerbils are less likely to kill each other as the defeated gerbil has the chance to run away. 

Another thing you’ll need to know is that introducing a new gerbil to an established pair or group can also lead to aggression and fighting, as the existing gerbils may see the newcomer as a threat to their established social hierarchy. 

Remember to introduce new gerbils gradually and in a neutral territory to reduce the risk of aggression and fighting.

Watercolor gerbil

Spring Cleaning

Clean the habitat regularly to prevent odors that might trigger aggression. However, keep some bedding with familiar scents during cleanings to maintain a sense of security.

Is It Normal for Gerbils to Eat Each Other?

Gerbils often establish a hierarchy within their social structure.

In some cases, when gerbils are kept in captivity with limited resources, this hierarchy can become more extreme, leading to aggressive behavior such as fighting and even cannibalism.

 While it may seem alarming to witness gerbils eating each other, it is not uncommon in certain situations.

So on a normal day-to-day basis, your gerbil will not attempt to kill or harm your other gerbils.

But in stressful situations, they might resort to cannibalism. 

Do Gerbils Attack Each Other?

We all know how cute and cuddly gerbils are but it’s not uncommon for them to occasionally fight with one another.

 These fights can range from mild scuffles to more serious battles, and you have to understand the reasons behind these conflicts and how to prevent them.

One of the most common reasons gerbils may fight is due to territorial disputes. Gerbils are naturally territorial creatures and they establish their own personal space within their habitat. 

If two gerbils feel that their territory is being invaded by the other, they may become aggressive and start fighting.

 Another reason gerbils may fight is due to dominance issues. Gerbils establish a hierarchy within their group, and the dominant gerbil may sometimes become aggressive towards others to maintain their position. 

What to Do If My Gerbil Dies?

If you have multiple gerbils in one cage, you should know how to handle the situation if one of them dies. 

The first step is to remove the deceased gerbil from the cage as soon as possible. Leaving the body in the cage will lead to the other gerbils trying to eat the dead body. 

 You can bury the gerbil outside or dispose of it in a plastic bag in the trash. 

After removing the body, monitor the other gerbils in the cage. 

If your gerbil died from a disease, it may affect the other gerbils in the cage. 

If you notice any changes in their behavior or health, such as loss of appetite or lethargy, quickly seek veterinary care.

 It may also be helpful to provide extra enrichment and attention for the remaining gerbils during this time to help them adjust.

How to Avoid Cannibalism in Gerbils

Providing gerbils with a large enough cage or habitat is crucial in preventing cannibalism.

Gerbils may become aggressive if they do not have enough resources, such as food, water, and hiding spots. 

Owners should ensure that their gerbils have access to fresh food, clean water, and plenty of toys and hiding spots.

Another cause of cannibalism in gerbils is breeding. If gerbils are not properly sexed and separated, they may mate and produce offspring, which can trigger aggressive behavior towards each other. 

Do Gerbils Eat Each Other?

Gerbils do thrive in groups. In rare cases, however, gerbils may display aggressive behavior towards each other, including cannibalism. 

To prevent this from happening, it’s important to provide gerbils with enough space, food, and toys to reduce stress and boredom. 

You should also introduce new gerbils to each other gradually, monitor their behavior closely, and separate them immediately if any signs of aggression are observed.

Leave a comment

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Be the first to know the latest updates

[yikes-mailchimp form="1"]