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My Gerbil Hates Me: Find Out Why + How To Get Them To Like You

It’s very common for gerbil owners to feel their pet hates them, but it’s more likely that your gerbil is just afraid or other factors contribute to their behavior. 

Gerbils are prey animals and if yours isn’t used to you, he likely thinks you’re a giant predator that wants to eat him. 

His fear may cause him to run and hide from you, or even to bite if he feels he has no other way to escape. 

Let’s find out the reasons behind why your gerbil hates you and how you can get them to like you.

Why Does My Gerbil Hate Me?

Possible reasons why your gerbil hates you are that they are fearful, sick, depressed, hold back due to previous owner mistreatment, are new and still need to adjust to their new surroundings and they have a different personality by interacting differently.

Root Of The Behaviour

Your gerbil may not want to interact with you, hides when they see you, bite, scratch, or may not want to be held. This behavior can indicate that they don’t like you.

It is helpful to consider various factors that could have contributed to this behavior.

First, look back to when your gerbil first started displaying the behavior. If it started suddenly then it could be because of a recent event that triggered them.

Another consideration is if the behavior started recently.

These timelines can help you pinpoint the actual cause of the ‘hate’ towards you so that you can address the situation.

The underlying reasons behind the behavior can result from:

  • Naturally, you are seen as a predator because of your large size compared to them.
  • They are scared of being handled because of the mistreatment they faced from a previous owner
  • They are new in your home and do not trust you to get.
  • You handle them too much.
  • Their surrounding environment could be creating a lot of noises or you could be the source of noise when you are talking loudly around them, which scares them.
  • Improper handling and not holding them gently.
  • Sudden quick movements from you, your family, pets or children in the home when near your gerbil makes them anxious and frightened.
  • Illness or depression may also make a gerbil be more reserved and not want any interaction. They may act out aggressively towards you because of pain due to illness.

How To Get Your Gerbil To Like You More

The first step to making your gerbil love you is to make sure he has a comfortable cage to live in. 

Adding a hide box, toys, and nesting materials can help your gerbil feel safer in his environment. 

In the wild, gerbils live in small family groups called hordes. They build large burrows with up to 20 tunnels. 

Their burrows are often packed with food and bedding. Having extra stores of food and a comfortable place to call home will help your gerbils feel safer and more adventurous. 

Once their cage is set up the way they like it, the next step to making your gerbil love you is through gentle interaction, avoiding creating fear, and through positive reinforcement by use of treats! 

The following outline will help your gerbil get used to you and will have him climbing into your hand before you know it! 

Step 1: To start, you will want to place a treat in your gerbil’s cage every time you enter the room. 

Try to place it in the same spot every time. Even if your gerbil runs and hides, he will soon start to equate finding a treat after you leave to you coming in the room. 

Step 2: Once your gerbil is watching you place the treat, you can stay next to the cage while he finds it. For this step, you want to use a smelly treat you know he won’t be able to resist. 

A small piece of boiled or scrambled egg or banana is a great option, but be careful not to overdo it with these, as too much fruit or egg can be bad for gerbils. 

Once you place the treat, simply stay next to the cage while he comes out and finds it. If he can eat in your presence without getting eaten himself, he will start to learn you mean him no harm.

Step 3: For this step, you are going to give your gerbil the treat. He may run away after he grabs it, but that is normal. 

Now that your gerbil is comfortable taking treats from your hands, he is likely ready to be your friend. 

You can place your hand palm side up in his cage and he will likely start climbing on it and exploring your fingers and arms. 

Remember to give your gerbil time to adjust, especially if they are new in your home. New gerbils take a couple of days to a few weeks to get used to their new home and owner.


All gerbils have different personalities, but many do enjoy being held and getting out of their cage for playtime. 

If your gerbil isn’t to that point yet, it doesn’t mean he won’t get there, he just may need some help learning how to behave. 

Knowing the reasons behind why a gerbil acts as if they hate you can help in putting in place a plan in order to help them cozy up to you.

By following the tips provided on how to get your gerbil to like you more, you will succeed in getting them more accustomed to you and interacting with you.


Gerbil Care