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Why Is My Gerbil So Jumpy? Reasons + Things To Consider

As a gerbil owner, you may have noticed your small pet becoming startled, jumpy, or frightened at times. 

This happens because of several reasons.

Here we will look at some reasons your gerbil may be feeling on edge, and what you can do to help your little furry friend calm down. Let’s get into the reasons behind this jumpy behavior.

Here’s What Makes A Gerbil So Jumpy 

The reasons why your gerbil is so jumpy include when they’re frightened by loud noises, or exposed to new environments, people, pets, or people. Past negative traumatic experiences or mishandling can also make a gerbil jumpy.

Reasons Your Gerbil Is So Jumpy

Each gerbil is different, so the reasons why any given gerbil is jumpy could vary. However, there are some common denominators of what triggers your little small pet.

Unfamiliar with a place

It can be scary and stressful to move into a new home, can’t it? Now imagine you are a tiny gerbil who has been purchased by giants and taken to their domain. I’d be shaking in my little gerbil paws too!

It is not uncommon for a new pet gerbil to display signs of fear like jumpiness when brought back to a new home. 

The shock of being brought to a brand-new home can do quite the number on a gerbil’s nerves.

Unfamiliar with you

Remember the giants I just mentioned above? That’s us.

If a whole new environment wasn’t enough reason for this poor gerbil to be nervous, now there are these giant, unfamiliar beings who want to pick that gerbil up and hold the poor terrified thing in their huge meaty hands.

This, as you can imagine, can be stressful for our little gerbil friends.

Natural instinct

On top of everything being giant and new and scary, gerbils are just naturally skittish animals! Gerbils are rodents, and like most rodents, they are natural prey for larger animals to eat.

Since most things are larger than a gerbil, nature endowed these little furballs with a top-notch fight-or-flight response; and boy, do they fly.

Even the slightest noise or smallest movement can send them scurrying to the safest place they can.

How Can I Help Them? : Things To Consider

Ultimately your gerbil will adjust to its new home, but there are some things you can do to help them adjust more smoothly.

Cozy Up their Home

Wherever your gerbils are living (a cage is the traditional housing), make sure to have as many amenities for them as possible.

Have their food and water in a convenient place to get to. Set up little hideouts for them to go to when they get nervous. 

Also, have a wheel for them to blow off steam by running on it and put some toys in there for them to play around with. The cozier, the better.

Create for them a peaceful environment 

Place your gerbil in a room that is comfortable or peaceful without any distraction or noise. 

Ensure that your gerbil is in an environment that is not disruptive especially when they eat, sleep, or rest. This will cause less anxiety and stress.

Loud Noises + Sudden Movements = Unhappy Gerbil

The quickest thing you can do at the moment to help your gerbil? Seriously cut down on the loud noises and sudden movements. 

Nothing will send gerbils scurrying to hide more than these two things, so keep them in check. Even a TV turned up too loudly or an excitable conversation can have them worrying their tails off!

Don’t startle your gerbil with sudden movements of noise when around them. Talk calmly without shouting and make your movements less noisy and dramatic.

Get Them Used to You (Very Slowly)

Your gerbil can’t just hide in their spot forever so getting them used to your presence helps. Talk to them more! Get them used to your voice. 

Once you feel they are no longer startled by your voice, introduce physical touch. Gently present your fingertips for them to come to sniff if they wish. 

When they’re comfortable with sniffing your fingers you can upgrade to petting them, and so on.

It will take time, but with patience, your gerbils will feel safe and love you before you know it.

Show affection through proper handling and care 

Display your love to your gerbil by handling them properly and providing them with the care they need to thrive.

By being affectionate to them they will be less jumpy and scared of you especially if they had a traumatic experience with a previous owner. 

This helps to calm them down and be more comfortable around you.

Consult your veterinarian

Consult your veterinarian if the jumpy behavior continues for a long time. This will help determine whether your gerbil has a behavioral problem or they need medical attention because of an underlying condition.


A gerbil can be jumpy or scared sometimes and may even avoid playing with you. This does not mean that they hate you. There are reasons behind this jumpy behavior.

By understanding the reasons behind your gerbil’s behaviour, you can put measures in place to help them be comfortable.

By following the tips provided above, you can help your gerbil feel more comfortable and less jumpy.