Why Do Gerbils Fight? Understanding the Aggressive Behavior of Gerbils

Sometimes we earn commission from qualifying purchases through affiliate links - at no extra cost to you.

Gerbils are cute and popular pets that are often kept in pairs or groups. However, despite their small size and innocent appearance, gerbils can be quite aggressive towards each other. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind gerbil fights, the signs of aggression, and how to prevent fights from happening.


Gerbils are social animals that naturally live in groups in their natural habitats. However, when kept in captivity, gerbils can exhibit aggressive behavior towards each other, leading to fights and injuries. Understanding the causes of gerbil fights is crucial for their well-being and happiness.

Natural Instincts

Gerbils are territorial animals that use scent marking to define their boundaries. They also have a natural hierarchy within their group, with dominant individuals asserting their authority over subordinate ones.

When two gerbils are introduced to each other, they may engage in aggressive behavior as they establish their roles within the group. This behavior can include chasing, biting, and boxing.

Environmental Factors

The environment in which gerbils are kept can also contribute to aggressive behavior. Gerbils need a large living space with plenty of hiding spots, toys, and food/water stations. A cramped or inadequate living space can lead to stress, which in turn can trigger aggressive behavior.

Additionally, gerbils should not be kept with other rodent species, as they can see them as a threat and become aggressive towards them.

Sexual Aggression

Male gerbils are known to exhibit sexual aggression towards other males, especially during breeding season. This behavior can include biting and chasing, and can result in injuries if not managed properly. To prevent sexual aggression, it is recommended to keep male gerbils separate during breeding season or to neuter them.

Signs of Aggression

Gerbils that are fighting will display several signs of aggression, including:

  • Chasing each other
  • Biting
  • Boxing
  • Loud squeaking or chirping
  • Flattening their bodies to the ground
  • Raising their tails

How to Prevent Fights

Preventing fights between gerbils is essential for their well-being. Here are some tips to minimize the risk of aggression:

  • Provide a large living space with plenty of hiding spots and toys
  • Keep gerbils in same-sex pairs or groups to prevent sexual aggression
  • Introduce new gerbils slowly and gradually
  • Separate gerbils that are fighting immediately
  • Neuter male gerbils to prevent sexual aggression


Gerbil fights can be a common occurrence in pet gerbil households. Understanding the reasons behind gerbil aggression can help prevent fights from happening and ensure the well-being of your pets. Providing a large living space and separating gerbils that are fighting are crucial steps in preventing aggression.


Can gerbils be kept alone?

Gerbils are social animals that should be kept in pairs or groups. However, if a gerbil cannot be kept with others for any reason, it is possible to keep them alone with plenty of toys and stimulation.

Can gerbils be trained to stop fighting?

Gerbils can be trained to a certain extent, but their natural instincts and behavior cannot be completely eliminated. It is best to prevent fights from happening by providing a suitable living environment and separating gerbils that are fighting.

Can female gerbils be aggressive towards each other?

Female gerbils can also be aggressive towards each other, especially if they are not properly introduced or if there is not enough space in their living environment.

Can gerbils be aggressive towards humans?

Gerbils are generally not aggressive towards humans unless they feel threatened or scared. It is important to handle gerbils gently and calmly to avoid triggering their natural instincts to flee or defend themselves.

What should I do if my gerbils are fighting?

If you notice your gerbils fighting, it is important to separate them immediately to prevent injuries. You can try reintroducing them gradually after a few days or keep them in separate living spaces permanently.

Leave a Comment