Over 5 million American households have welcomed small animals like gerbils into their homes. It’s easy to see why, too. These pets cost less for care than when compared to dogs, for instance, that can cost you well over $1,000 a year. Gerbils are another example of an animal that has evolved both naturally and with the assistance of selective breeding.
The range of colors reflects the fact that gerbils are domesticated animals. Evolution selects for color and patterns that give these rodents the best competitive edge. After all, camouflage is the key to success and survival. Many of the variations that you’ll see are not adaptive. Instead, they are aesthetic choices that sometimes are the result of mutations.
Selective breeding is an evolving practice. You’ll likely see more variations come on board as soon as the stability of the color emerges. Trends and fashion often dictate the changes and drive the price of gerbils. It’s a vital consideration if the cost is an issue. Let’s delve into the range of options if you want something different than the run-of-the-mill gerbil.
The 12 Gerbil Colors and Patterns
If you’d find a gerbil in the wild, agouti is the color you’d likely see. Its coat is a combination of white and brownish hairs. The advantage of this pattern is that it provides excellent camouflage. After all, it is a prey species and benefits from being less obvious. This coloration allows the gerbil to blend into the background to escape detection.
The word argente means silver in French. However, it also forms the basis for some variations on this theme.
2. Cream Argente
This gerbil has a white underside that is offset by its lighter color on the rest of its body. Its skin starts as pink before it morphs into its namesake shade. The animal’s eyes are also red, a trait typical of albino animals.
3. Golden Argente
The golden argente color is darker than the previous one, with the same red eyes that define this variation. However, that’s only a temporary characteristic since they will lighten with age.
The term honey describes a warm tan color, reminiscent of the food. It’s a shade darker than the last set with these typical hues.
This variation is two-toned with a deeper honey color on the gerbil’s back. The other defining characteristic is a darker patch on its forehead. While its paws are flesh-colored, the gerbil’s eyes are black.
5. Honey Dark-Eyed
As the name implies, the gerbil’s eyes are black while the belly is white. It’s a deeper honey color that is quite attractive.
Several gerbil colors co-op the names of different gems that are ideal descriptors of the shades. We think that they are appropriately named and show nuanced variations in the colors.
This color describes the undertone more than the actual color. It denotes a cool white that gives the gerbil its bluish hue.
This color variation is interesting. It’s a warm color like the gem. The gerbil has a white belly that accentuates the warmth of the hue. The eyes are red, which is a striking contrast.
8. White Ruby Eyed
This color embraces the contrast between ruby red eyes and a white body that looks fantastic in this small animal.
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The pearl brings warmth to stark cold white. It adds some welcome variation to this hue, with elements of blue, pink, and gold.
Some gerbil colors look to other examples in nature for their inspiration. Some are surprisingly accurate in their patterns, which makes them even more interesting.
The Siamese gerbil has the rich silver color that defines the Siamese cat breed. This variation brings that same beautiful tone to the rodent as it does to the feline.
The Himalayan color pattern is similar to the previous one, with greater contrast between the light and dark colors. The combination works as well in cats as it does in gerbils.
The Burmese also shares some similar characteristics, although the contrast is less stark. It’s a gorgeous variation that works on so many levels.
Our roundup only scratches the surface of the available gerbil colors and patterns. Selective breeding has that wild card of mutations that mixes up the coloration results. In the wild, gerbil colors besides agouti were often a liability. Today, they are an opportunity to expand the profile of this small animal. In any case, gerbils are a lovable pet that can make an excellent choice for a youngster to learn the necessary responsibility.
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Featured Image Credit: Svetlanistaya, Shutterstock