Pet Mice and Gerbils – Can They Live Together?

Mice and gerbils are both rodents, and they look quite similar in appearance, which leads many people to believe these animals will easily live together. But is that really the case?

No, pet mice and gerbils are not the best mates for each other, and for many different reasons.

Even if they look similar and they might appear as if they are similar in nature, they both have different needs and there are some key differences that mean you should not keep these two animal species together.

They are different species to begin with; gerbils are larger in size, and they also get more territorial than mice.

This can lead to problems with your mice, as they won’t be comfortable next to the aggressive gerbils, and they won’t be able to resist as well, since gerbils are larger in size.

These two animal species also have slightly different needs to survive. Their diets are slightly different, and they might interfere with each other’s feeding windows.

In this article, we’ll take a look at why mice and gerbils are not the best mates for each other, and what you should know about these two species.

5 Reasons You Should Avoid Mice and Gerbils Together

So we’ve established that you should not keep these two species together, but we haven’t actually looked at why yet. So, there are the top 5 reasons why mice and gerbils are not the best mates for each other.

1. Gerbils are Bigger in Size Compared to Mice

One of the biggest differences between the two species is their size. Gerbils tend to grow much larger than mice. Gerbils will grow to about 4 inches in size, while mice will measure 3 inches at most, maybe sometimes slightly more.

Still, that’s quite a difference in size, and it’s not a good omen for the mice. Because gerbils are larger in size, they will have the freedom to bully mice and intimidate them, and mice might get scared by gerbils.

This makes it harder for the mice to survive and even get food, since gerbils are likely to be aggressive and territorial against other species, especially towards the smaller species near them. And mice definitely fall into that category.

While you can keep more mice in the same cage than gerbils as they are smaller, this doesn’t always mean that it’s good for the mice if there are more of them.

It means more work for you, and more opportunities for the gerbils to steal the food and be aggressive towards the mice.

2. Gerbils are Very Territorial

This point ties nicely with the previous point. Since gerbils are the larger species, they will be more territorial towards mice, and might steal their food and prevent them from living normally.

And mice won’t be able to fight back, because they are much smaller in size, and it might even result in injuries for the mice and death.

Mongolian gerbils are most commonly kept in home aquariums instead of wire cages since they are the friendliest gerbil species, but they are still a very territorial species.

They won’t go well together with other similar species, including mice, where they will feel empowered because of their size.

Male gerbils will also fight each other at times, and you should do everything you can to avoid these fights. They can result in injuries and in the worst-case scenario, deaths.

3. Gerbils Can be More Aggressive than Mice

Here’s another point that makes sense and ties well together with the previous two points. Mice are smaller and less powerful, while gerbils are larger in size and will get territorial.

At times, they will get more aggressive towards other animals that they recognize as a threat, so they will potentially get aggressive towards mice.

They are an aggressive species on their own, though. As they will fight with other species, they will also fight with each other. That’s especially true for males.

Gerbils are just more aggressive in their nature, and that’s something we simply can’t do anything against. All we can do is keep our mice and gerbils separate and make sure there are no fights between them.

4. Both Species Can Carry Diseases Lethal to the Other

Yes, this is also another issue of keeping gerbils and mice together, or any species, to be honest.

Each species might carry some diseases that other animals are not immune against, which can potentially result in health problems and in the worst-case scenario, deaths.

So even if you vet the animals before you get them, you can’t do much against this from happening. Because your animals might develop diseases as they are placed in the cage, it might be harder to prevent this from happening.

And just one disease that your mouse can get can be lethal for your gerbils, and vice versa. This is not great since you want your pets to stay healthy, and these diseases can potentially be deadly for your mice or gerbils.

5. Mice and Gerbils Have Different Needs

Mice and gerbils are not the same species, even if they might appear relatively similar in appearance. They do have different needs, and you should keep that in mind if you want to keep gerbils and mice together.

Their dietary needs are slightly different, and mice will require slightly less food than gerbils. Gerbils, on the other hand, will behave differently than mice, as they will normally get aggressive towards mice and everything else they might encounter in their way.

They also prefer different temperatures and habitats, which makes it harder for you to keep these together. Mice prefer to live in larger groups, while gerbils will do better in smaller groups.

And gerbils, especially, the males, will often fight between each other, which cannot be a good thing for your mice.

Can Gerbils and Mice Breed?

Mice and gerbils cannot breed as their genetics are very different. While they appear similar and they are both rodents, their genetic material is very different, meaning they can’t reproduce. In order to reproduce, animals must have the same or similar genetic material, and that’s the primary requirement for breeding.

So even if you force them to breed, you won’t get any results since they are genetically different. But breeding is made practically impossible by the fact that these animals will likely not get on well together.

Gerbils and mice might fight each other, which makes breeding practically impossible. And pair that with different genetic materials, and you get the fact that you cannot breed these two species together at all.

Can a Gerbil Kill a Mouse?

Ok, so we’ve established that gerbils can get aggressive, but can a gerbil actually kill a mouse?

Yes, gerbils can injure or even kill a mouse, because they are much stronger and they are larger. Gerbils are likely to get aggressive and territorial against your mice, which can potentially result in injuries and in the worst case scenario, death.

So be careful that you don’t put these animals together. However, there’s another way a gerbil can kill a mouse – and that’s through diseases they can transfer to mice.

You will have to be very careful not to allow this to happen. Mice are not immune to gerbil diseases, just like gerbils are not immune to mice diseases.

Mouse or Gerbil – Which is a Better Pet?

So you can’t keep these animals together, but which ones will you choose?

If you only had to choose one, you would have to take a look at what exactly it is you prefer. These animals are slightly different in character, even if they look quite similar.

Firstly, mice will prefer to be kept in slightly larger groups, and they are much smaller in size. They will only grow to about 3 ½ inches in size, and they are normally much smaller than that. That’s why they prefer to be kept in larger groups.

Gerbils, on the other hand, are slightly larger and prefer to be kept in smaller and confined groups. They can get aggressive towards each other, especially the males, though.

Their behavior is also slightly different. Gerbils are much more gregarious and they can be easily taught new things and they can also be friendly.

Mice are much more shy and timid, and they are more likely to be afraid of you at first. But once they get used to you, they can be just fine, and they can even learn some tricks!

So think about these things when you’re picking your animal. Both are great and both have their own unique features, but you will have to evaluate what it is you want – you can’t keep both, though.


Mice and gerbils should not be kept together, and for several reasons. Gerbils are larger in size and can get aggressive towards mice, and mice are timider and they are also smaller in size.

So that makes them not the best mates, but both animals are great if they are kept separately.

avatar Jane
Jane is an experienced animal care specialist with a focus on rodents and small mammals, with over 10 years of experience in the pet industry. Her articles provide practical guidance on choosing the right pet and managing common health issues. Jane is an advocate for animal welfare and supports organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife. read more...

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