How Long Do Gerbils Sleep? {Where & When}

Gerbils are some of the most popular pets in U.S. households. These pets are small and do not require a prolonged commitment. 

How long do gerbils sleep? In this article, we’ll discover everting there is to know about gerbil sleeping behavior. 

How Long Do Gerbils Sleep?

Gerbils usually sleep for about an hour or two at a time. This is their sleeping cycle throughout the day and night. However, gerbils living in captivity can quickly adapt to human sleeping schedules. 

Gerbils make excellent pets for children because they can be entertaining and fun to keep. Although it may seem simple and easy to take care of a gerbil, parents should consider various factors before bringing the pet into their homes. An important consideration is the sleeping pattern and schedule of the pet.

Gerbils Sleeping Schedule

Gerbils sleep at two to four intervals throughout the day. On average, a gerbil will sleep for two to four hours then stay awake for another two to four hours. Therefore, gerbils can remain awake for twelve hours in a day.

Several factors affect a gerbil’s sleeping pattern:

  • Age
  • Weather 
  • Breed 
  • Environment

Adult healthy gerbils can be incredibly active for a prolonged period. On the other hand, young and old gerbils are less energetic and usually sleep for most hours of the day. Gerbils use a lot of energy in their growth and development

A young gerbil sleeps most of the time to save energy for physiological development. Aging gerbils have less energy and will spend most of their time sleeping. Gerbils hit their senior years when they are two to three years old. 

Why is my gerbil wobbling? I need to help explain this situation to you as well. 

Gerbils are more active during summer than in winter. In summer, the weather is warmer, and there is plenty of light, which excites a gerbil. Research indicates gerbils reduce their daily activities in low light conditions experienced during winter.

There are various breeds of gerbils. The Duprasi gerbil or fat-tailed gerbil sleeps more hours than the average gerbil.

A gerbil’s environment will affect how much sleep time they get. Some of the environmental factors that affect a gerbil’s sleep pattern include:

  • Presence of other gerbils 
  • Human interaction 
  • Cage conditions 

Presence of Other Gerbils 

Two gerbils living in the same cage are likely not to have predictable or regular sleeping patterns. Wild gerbils are highly social animals and survive better in groups called clans. During naptime, a gerbil clan will sleep in a tiny pile to conserve warmth and foster bonding. 

Two or more gerbils living in the same cage or environment can have different sleeping patterns. One gerbil might be in deep sleep while the other burrows or scavenges for food. 

The presence of a rival can also affect its sleeping pattern. Feuds often happen in a gerbil clan, and some members may end up being rejected by the clan. The rejected gerbil may find it difficult to sleep due to feeling of insecurity without the clan.  

In winter, a lonely gerbil may find it difficult to sleep as it struggles to keep itself warm. A thriving clan guarantees warmth and bonding, which can encourage a gerbil to sleep for longer hours. 

Human Interaction 

Domesticated gerbils tend to adapt to the human lifestyle. Your pet gerbil might go to sleep whenever you go to sleep. Gerbils are active and love to play with their owners. 

The presence of the owner may encourage a pet gerbil to play. In addition, pet gerbils understand that their food and water comes from their owner. The presence of the owner in the room could mean feeding time, which might keep the gerbil awake and waiting. 

In some cases, gerbils may sleep in the presence of their owners. This may occur if the gerbil has been too active during the day. 

Cage Conditions 

The gerbil’s cage conditions determine how much sleep it gets. If there is nothing much to do in the cage, gerbils will likely sleep most of the time. 

Out in the wild, gerbils like to create burrows to sleep in. These burrows help provide warmth and protection from rain, cold, and extreme heat. In addition, a burrow protects a gerbil from predators. If the same environment is guaranteed inside a cage, then the gerbil will feel safer sleeping in it. 


Can A Gerbil Oversleep?

Gerbils are very active animals and seldom oversleep. They will only need between one and four hours to compensate for the exhaustion. Sleeping in these intervals is a gerbil’s way of life.

Unless a gerbil is too young or very old, they are unlikely to over. However, gerbils under certain circumstances may oversleep:

  1. Boredom 
  2. Loneliness 
  3. Illness 

1. Boredom 

A bored gerbil will have nothing else to do but sleep almost all the time. While sleep is healthy to conserve energy, oversleeping is not suitable for an adult gerbil. Therefore, gerbil owners should provide them with toys in their cages to play with. 

Consider adding a sand bath in the cage for the pet to dig and create burrows. In addition, install an exercise wheel inside the cage. The pet may play on the wheel, which leads to the expulsion of energy. 

Chew toys provide excellent playthings for keeping the gerbil busy. If you cannot buy new chew toys, old toilet paper rolls will do. It gets lonely inside the cage too. Let the gerbil out of the cage occasionally to explore the world beyond. 

Ensure the gerbil plays in a controlled environment with few chances of escaping. You might have to supervise the gerbil, especially if you have a cat or dog in the house. 

Want to learn more about keeping your gerbils happy? Read this post next.

2. Loneliness 

Gerbils are social animals, which is why they thrive in clans in the wild. A gerbil that is left alone can suffer from loneliness and depression. 

A lonely gerbil will spend most of its days sleeping. It is essential to get your gerbil a playmate to avoid loneliness and boredom. Gerbils are best adopted in pairs. Ensure you adopt your gerbil pair from the same litter. 

Gerbils from the same litter are bonded and less likely to be rivals. It is also possible to adopt gerbils from different litters and teach them to coexist.

You can bond two gerbils using the split cage technique. This involves dividing a large cage with a wire mesh in the middle. 

As the two gerbils stay on either side of the “fence,” they slowly become used to each other. Within two weeks, the gerbils will have bonded, and then you can remove the cage divider. 

3. Sickness 

Gerbils may sleep for prolonged periods if they are sick or wounded. Sleeping helps them to conserve energy, which can speed up the healing process. 

Gerbils can sleep for prolonged periods if they develop health complications such as:

  • Digestive issues
  • Dental diseases 
  • Respiratory problems 
  • Injuries 
  • Infections to limbs or internal organs 

Older gerbils are vulnerable to seizures and stroke. In a clan or gerbil pair, a sick gerbil will isolate itself and not share in cage activities. 

How Do Gerbils Sleep?

The temperature affects how gerbils sleep.

  1. They often sleep on their backs with their legs up if the temperature is higher than 86° F.
  2. They lay on their sides when the temperature is 77 °F.
  3. They snooze with heads tucked between their back legs when outside temperature is below 77 °F.

Age can have a big impact on gerbil sleep patterns. As their bodies and minds are still growing and developing, baby gerbils often sleep more than adults do.

Setting up a regular sleep schedule takes some time for young adults. These little rodents frequently sleep together. They build elaborate nests from hay, grass, and other materials, where they contentedly wrap up in a small group.


Gerbils Sleeping Together

Gerbils do not always sleep together, especially when they stay in pairs or a clan. One of the gerbils may want to sleep while the other does not. Therefore, the one that feels like taking a nap may do so in a burrow. 

In a clan, some gerbils may sleep while the rest remain awake. The ones that sleep will probably do so in a pile. 

Some gerbils may sleep for about an hour and stay awake for about two or four hours before sleeping again. This sleeping pattern may continue throughout the day and night. If this sleeping pattern continues, the gerbil may find itself sleeping alone most of the time. 

Gerbils that sleep alone are quite normal. Their sleeping pattern is not an indication of animosity in the clan; it is natural. However, a gerbil that always sleeps alone could have fallen out with the clan. 

On average, a gerbil can sleeps in intervals of between two to four hours. Age, activity level, cage conditions, and human interaction can affect a gerbil’s sleeping pattern.




My name is Anna and I work full time in my local pet shop where we sell many animals that I write about on this site. I love all animals and love writing about them.