The gerbil is originally from Africa and central and southern Asia.

It lives in desert, semi-desert regions, steppes and savannahs in the wild.

Gerbils are adapted to desert life. They do not urinate or sweat much, and so conserve moisture.

They have been called desert rats, although they do not belong to the same family as true rats.

Gerbils range between six inches and one foot long.

Mongolian gerbil

A gerbil has a furry tail.

Gerbils are omnivorous. They eat insects, as well as of seeds, roots and leaves.

The Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus), also known as the clawed jird, has become a popular household pet. It is known for being quite and good-natured.

Jird is an Arabic word for a large rodent that lives in the desert.

In the wild, Mongolian gerbils live in extensive burrows with different chambers for storing food and for nesting.

Although most species of gerbils are diurnal (active during the day), the Mongolian gerbil is crepuscular (mostly active at dawn and at dusk).

Gerbils breed quickly and can become a threat to crops.