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Other name: Shaws Jird, Shaw Gerd, Shaws
Scientific name: Meriones shawi
Country / Place of origin: North America and Middle East
History: Shaw’s Jirds are found in North America and the Middle East, specifically in Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Libya. Their habitat includes pastures, coaster desert areas, and rural gardens.
Appearance: Shaw’s Jirds are twice as large as the Gerbil. Oftentimes they are referred to as giant Mongolian Gerbils because they look similar in body, face, and ears. Shaw’s Jirds are preferred over Mongolian Gerbils as pets because they are bigger and easier to handle, especially by the small hands of a child.
Average weight: 0 - 0 lbs.
Grooming: Jirds and Gerbils do not need grooming by their owners because they spend a lot of time cleaning their fur and washing their faces. They enjoy sand baths to remove grease from their coat.
Diet: Jirds and Gerbils are natural burrowers and gnawers, as their pointed snout and sharp teeth indicate. They primarily feed on seeds, stalks, and herb roots, but they also hunt insects like beetles, crickets, and moths. They also eat fruits and vegetables, although these should be given sparingly because too much gives them diarrhea (in their natural habitat, they rarely encounter food that has too much moisture content). Branches of fruit trees, birch, hazel, and beech are good for chewing down. Pre-mixed gerbil and hamster food are well accepted.
Housing: Shaw’s Jirds are best housed in a medium to large glass enclosure or aquarium with a secure lid to prevent escape and protect the animals from predators. Because Jirds and Gerbils are burrowers, bedding that is deep enough for digging is recommended. The best bedding is aspen shavings.Sand can be incorporated in the cage, together with twigs and hay to allow tunneling. Otherwise, a sand bowl should be provided for sand bathing, which Jirds and Gerbils often do to remove grease from their fur. Nesting material should also be added, like shredded paper towels or toilet paper. Hiding places like tubes and cardboard boxes provide security and seclusion. A water bottle with fresh water should be available. The enclosure must be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
Health issues: Like other Jirds and Gerbils, the Shaw’s Jird is prone to ailments common to small mammals, like colds (from too much moisture, drafts, or very high temperatures), indigestion (from bad food), or undue stress.
Behavior / Temperament / Activity level: Shaw’s Jirds are like rats, except they have almost no inclination to bite (unless disturbed while sleeping), making them ideal pets. Females are more aggressive than males, and will fight for territory against other females, therefore should be kept singly. Makes can be kept in pairs or groups.