The Shaws Jird

Scienfic Name:- Meriones shawi

Jirds are a rodent that belongs to the gerbil family.   The most commonly kept as a pet is the Shaws Jird,   that originates from the coastal deserts of North Africa.   Jirds are bigger in size than the common pet Mongolian gerbil,   with males reaching up to 14 inches including the tail.   They have a sandy coloured coat that may vary in shade.

Jirds have adapted to live in their natural habitat with hot summers and cold winters by having furry ears to keep them warm and furred feet to protect them from the hot sand.   Jirds are very active and curious animals and also very sociable,   which makes them good pets as they are very friendly and rarely bite.   Because they are bigger than gerbils and much slower this makes them easier to handle,   and so are good pets for children.   Although jirds live in groups in the wild,   in captivity the best combination to keep together are two males that have lived together since they were young.   Females should be kept individually as they will fight.

Habitat :- The best type of housing to keep pet jirds in is a glass tank,   with a third of the tank being filled with a substrate such as hay or straw mixed with sawdust to allow the jirds to dig and make tunnels like they would in the wild.   Wooden or plastic cages are not suitable as jirds have very strong teeth and would soon chew their way out of a plastic or wooden home.   They should be let out of their cage for exercise every day but they must be supervised to prevent them chewing through electrical wires.   Jirds should be given toys in their cages such as cardboard boxes and tubes to chew and run through and hide in.   Branches from trees such as apple or willow make good climbing frames providing they are washed thoroughly before placing in the cage.

Diet :- Jirds are omnivores,   so it is a good idea to feed your jirds a complete rodent diet mix such as Harry Hamster or Gerri Gerbil food from pet shops as well as giving a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables,   a variety of seeds and grains and some meat now and again such as mealworms or tinned cat food.   Fresh water must be available at all times,   either in a pet water bottle or a sturdy dish that can’t be tipped over.

Life expectancy :- 2-3 years.

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