A gerbil is a small rodent commonly kept as a pet. There are over a hundred species of gerbil (sometimes called "desert rats"). Gerbils are small, typically between 6 and 12 inches long including the tail (which makes up approximately half of their length), and are omnivorous making them easy to feed. Pet gerbils have an average lifespan of two to four years although they have been known to live longer.
Gerbils make an ideal pet for small children as they are non-aggressive and rarely bite unprovoked. Unlike many rodents, they are not nocturnal which makes them fun to watch during the day. Gerbils love to burrow and will build, elaborate networks of tunnels if given an environment that allows for it (such as a sandbox). Gerbils (like some hamsters) are naturally inquisitive and will explore new areas and pay attention to their surroundings. They are very sociable and are easy to handle and play with.