Gerbils and mice look quite similar. So similar that it is easy to confuse them. However, they are not as similar as you might think, even if they are indeed close in appearance. There are important differences between them that you need to know and pay attention to. But do they also differ in size?
Are gerbils bigger than mice? Gerbils are actually slightly larger than mice on average. This is true for both body length and weight. However, not so much that it makes a big difference. A large-bodied mouse can be larger than a small-bodied gerbil. But gerbils and mice also differ in a few other ways.
Let’s take a closer look at the size, weight, and other important differences between the two pets. There are actually some interesting differences between gerbils and mice that you should know.
We will also present some similarities between the two species. Even though there are similarities between the two, it is still important to know that you cannot keep both species together. It could be fatal for one of the species!
What Are the Differences Between Gerbils and Mice?
Although gerbils and mice are relatively closely related and also share some similarities, there are some differences between them. We will take a closer look at some of the differences below.
Gerbil and Mouse Size
We have already written above that gerbils are a little bigger than mice. However, the differences are small from a human point of view.
Gerbils can grow between 4 and 5.5 inches long, plus their 4 to 4.8 inch long tails. So the total length of a gerbil can be between 8 and 10.3 inches.
Mice grow to only 3 to 4.5 inches long. They have a tail that is 3 to 4 inches long. So, in total, mice can grow to be 6 to 8.5 inches long.
So, as you can see, it is actually the case that a very large mouse can be larger than a small gerbil. And even on average, the two small rodents are not far apart in terms of length.
Gerbil and Mouse Weight
The bodyweight of gerbils is also greater than that of mice. This is not surprising, since they are also a little ahead in length. But you might be surprised how big the differences in the weight of these two animals can be.
In gerbils, the males tend to be a little heavier than the females. Male gerbils can get 2.8 to 3.8 ounces in weight, while female gerbils get between 2.5 to 3.5 ounces in weight.
In terms of weight, mice lag well behind gerbils. Mice grow to weigh only 0.9 to 1.8 ounces.
So even though you can’t tell the difference between gerbils and mice purely by size, it is possible to tell them apart by their different weights.
Gerbil and Mouse Body Temperature
Another interesting difference between gerbils and mice is the regular body temperature. In contrast to the weight, the mice are ahead of the gerbils here.
The gerbils have an average body temperature of 100.58° F to 101.1° F (38.1° C to 38.4° C). Still quite warm compared to humans, but as I said, mice are even higher here.
In mice, the average body temperature ranges from 101.3° F to 102.7° F (38.5° C to 39.3° C). So they are a little bit warmer than gerbils.
Gerbil and Mouse Lifespan
One important difference between gerbils and mice concerns anyone thinking about getting one of these animals as pets. This is about the average lifespan of these two animals. Knowing this is important because it is the only way to know how many years you will have to take care of your pets.
So let’s look at how long these two rodents live. In fact, there is a big difference.
Gerbils usually live between 3 and 4 years. In some cases, it can be up to 5 years, but this happens rather rarely.
Mice live much shorter. Their average lifetime is only 1.5 to 2.5 years. It is rare for a mouse to live more than 2.5 years.
So if you are not sure if you really can or want to take care of your pets for many years, mice might be a better introduction to the world of pets. Whereas, you should basically be sure that you can take care of them for their whole life before getting pets.
What Do Gerbils and Mice Have in Common?
Having discussed the differences between gerbils and mice n, we now come to the similarities. And they do indeed have some things in common.
But this is not surprising, since they are quite closely related. Let’s look at some of the similarities in detail.
The Diet of Gerbils and Mice
It is probably not surprising that gerbils and mice have similar diets. Both are omnivores by nature, eating both plant and animal foods.
They both need a varied diet consisting of grasses, seeds, grains, a few vegetables, and now and then some animal protein.
Mice are still a little more open than gerbils when it comes to diet. They are often seen as garbage eaters that really eat everything.
But just like gerbils, they also need balance in their diet. Otherwise, deficiency symptoms can occur.
The Biological Classification of Gerbils and Mice
Gerbils and mice both belong to the order of rodents or Rodentia. I think this will not be news to you if you have studied a bit about these animals.
But the relationship goes even further. Both species even belong to the same family, the murids or Muridae. The members of this family have in common that they have a long tail.
The Muridae is the largest family of mammals. There are about 750 species in 150 genera within the murids. Quite a large family in my opinion.
And two members of this family are our gerbils and mice. But the similarity between the two ends at the family level.
They belong to different subfamilies, which is simply a subdivision level of families above the genus.
Gerbils belong to the gerbils or Gerbillinae subfamily. Mice belong to the subfamily of murine or Murinae.
These are sometimes called Old World mice, presumably because they are native to Europe, Asia, and Africa. However, the fact that they also occur naturally in Australia does not quite fit the picture.
Territorial Behavior of Gerbils and Mice
Gerbils and mice are both very territorial animals. They do not accept conspecifics or foreign species invading their territory.
This is also true for not-so foreign species. Gerbils and mice do not know that they are relatively closely related. If they were kept together, there would be fierce territorial fights that could lead to death.
Therefore, gerbils and mice can not be kept together. They should not even have run together in your home, as this can also lead to fierce attacks.
It is also difficult for both species to introduce new animals into an existing group. You need a lot of experience and patience to manage it. Otherwise, it can be dangerous for the animals if they are not brought together carefully and with the right techniques.
The Coat Colors of Gerbils and Mice
Both gerbils and mice come in a variety of colors. However, most of these colors do not occur in nature but are the result of breeding.
For you as a pet owner, the color does not matter. There are no special rules for gerbils or mice of a certain color. They also do not have different behavior or requirements.
My first pet was a white mouse that I bought secretly when I was in elementary school. I found white mice especially beautiful at that time.
But as far as keeping this mouse was concerned, the same rules applied as for all other mice. These include, for example, that you should not keep mice individually. I didn’t know that at the time, of course, but it led to me getting another mouse.
The Toes of Gerbils and Mice
The toes are a point where the close relationship of the two species becomes visible. The number of toes differs between forefeet and hindfeet in both animals.
Both species have 4 fully grown toes on their forefeet and a fifth toe that is only rudimentary. On their hind feet, however, they have 5 fully grown toes. The middle toe is the longest of the 5 toes on the hind feet.
The Teeth of Gerbils and Mice
Teeth are a point of both similarity and difference between gerbils and mice. We list them nevertheless with the similarities since these predominate in my opinion.
Both gerbils and mice have 4 constantly regrowing gnawing teeth in the front. Both species also have molars on the top and bottom of each side. However, these molars do not grow back.
In gerbils, they have 4 molars on the top and bottom of each side, for a total of 16 molars. Mice, however, have a total of only 12 molars, one less on each side at the top and bottom.
The gnawing teeth are yellowish to orange in color. The reason for this is that they have strong enamel, which makes them appear in these colors. The rodents need strong enamel so that the gnawing teeth do not wear down too much during very extensive gnawing.
Conclusion: Are Gerbils Bigger than Mice?
Gerbils and mice have some things in common. This is not surprising, since they are relatively closely related and belong to the same family Muridae.
However, they also have some interesting differences. The most noticeable differences are their body length and weight. The gerbil is superior to the mouse in both of these factors.
However, the most important difference to remember is that they are both different animals that cannot live together. They are both very territorial and would not tolerate the other species in their territory.
If you take this to heart, you can have a lot of fun with these cute little fellows.