Overview of Gerbils and Jirds
All Jirds are gerbils, but not all gerbils are Jirds - the mongolian gerbil for example, is also known as the clawed Jird and has the furred feet, ears and tail that help identify this. Gerbils are related to mice and rats, and more distantly, squirrel-like rodents. Almost all are omnivorous and salthough most diurnal, and active during the night and sleeping in the day, pet gerbils and jirds can exhibit crepuscular behaviour where they are most active at dawn and dusk.
Bushy-tailed Jird (Sekeetamys calurus) are simimilar in size to a mongolian gerbil but with a more elongated build. They have a bushed tail similar to a dormouses and are curious and friendly in nature.
Fat-tailed Gerbil also known as a Duprasi (Pachyuromys Duprasis) are long-lived, medium sized rodents that can exhibit more hamster like behaviour than typical burrowing, curious nature of a gerbil. There is some confusion over algerian and egptian imports. Their distinct rounded tail is used to store water and is a good indicator of health.
Greater Egyptian Gerbil (Gerbillus pyramidum) is a medium sized gerbil with a pointed head and small ears. It measures around 24cm long and has a dark agouti colour. It is rarely available in the pet trade.
Libyan Jird (Meriones libycus) were initially more popular than Shaws Jirds, until the later were found to be easier to tame and handle.
Mongolian Gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus) also known as Clawed Jirds are very friendly, inquisitive and hardy rodents. They are the most commonly available gerbil, should not be kept alone, although adults do require a split-cage to introduce.
Pallid Gerbil (Gerbillus perpallidus) is a small gerbil with pale orange fur and white underbelly, forelimbs and feet. They average 22-27 cm and weighing in at 26-49g.
Persian Jirds (Meriones persicus) are a large agouti-coloured rodent with large eyes and ears. They are graceful, excellent at climbing, and more docile in temprement than the mongolian gerbil.
Shaws Jird (Meriones shawi) look very similar to Mongolian Gerbils but are closer to the size of a rat, with an adult male reaching up to 14 inches in length, half of which is their long elegant tail. They are very intelligent.
Tristram Jirds (Meriones tristrami) is a medium sized jird that is not commonly seen available.
Pygmy Gerbils such as the baluchistan pygmy gerbil or the charming dipodil have become practicularly non-existant in the pet trade, at least in the UK. If you know differently, please contact me!