Many years ago, in the land of Greece, Homer wrote a story of warriors who traveled across the empire on a quest led by a hero named Odysseus. How is this related to gerbils? They get their name, in part, from one of those warriors — Meriones. His name lives on in the Iliad and in the name of these cute little “clawed warriors,” Meriones unguiculatus.
The Gerbils’ Story
Gerbils are not from Greece, however. These little guys actually originated much farther to the east in the Mongolian deserts and steppes. There, they forage for seeds and grains, and live in family groups called clans, which are led by a matriarch, a female leader. Gerbils have a short life span in the wild, only a few months. They live longer in captivity, however, usually between two and three years.
For the full article, pick up the 2011 issue of Critters USA or click here to buy the issue.