Music can make animals excited, calm them down, or enable them to focus more effectively. Gerbils have good hearing and are sensitive to noise, so you may be curious if gerbils enjoy music.
Gerbils can hear frequencies of between 100 and 60,000 Hz. They can hear most music, except lower-pitched sounds, such as bass. Most gerbils enjoy classical music played quietly because it relaxes them. Loud or fast music, such as rock and metal, can be stressful for gerbils.
We’ll look at how sensitive a gerbil’s hearing is. We’ll discuss how gerbils process music and whether they enjoy listening to it. We’ll explore the best, most relaxing music for gerbils and what genres to avoid.
Are Gerbils Sensitive to Noise?
Hearing is one of a gerbil’s most highly tuned senses, along with its sense of smell. A gerbil’s sensitivity to sound is important because it’s how they communicate.
If two gerbils are together, they ‘talk’ to each other almost constantly. It’s how they navigate dominance, boundaries, play, and mating.
Most of a gerbil’s vocalizations are inaudible to our own ears. Gerbils primarily communicate using ultrasonic sound, which is above the range of human hearing.
Research by the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America found that gerbils use 13 distinct ‘syllables.’ The noises they make range between 5 kHz (5,000 Hz) and 50 kHz (50,000 Hz).
Humans can hear up to 20 kHz, but we hear best below 5 kHz. So we can only hear a gerbil’s lowest-pitched squeaks.
Without its hearing, a gerbil would struggle to communicate with other gerbils. A wild gerbil would also fail to hear predators approaching. So, gerbils have evolved to be sensitive to noise.
Gerbils can hear music and most of the other noises that take place in our homes.
How Well Can Gerbils Hear Music?
According to another study in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, gerbils can hear frequencies between 100 Hz and 60 kHz.
This range is broad compared to other small animals. Mice, for example, can’t hear anything below 1 kHz (1,000 Hz).
The human voice registers between 85 and 255 Hz. That means that gerbils can hear most human speech, except some of the lower end.
It also means that gerbils can hear our music. The range of music spans from 60 Hz (the lowest bass notes) up to 20 kHz (the highest harmonics). The majority of musical notes are somewhere between 120 Hz and 2 kHz.
So, other than not hearing bass notes, gerbils hear music the same way we do. They can also hear sounds that we can’t perceive at all.
Many things in our homes emit ultrasonic noise. These include:
- Fluorescent lights
- Stereos and speakers
- Animal repellants (devices that noises to deter stray animals)
- Running water (faucets and pipes)
Though we can’t hear anything, the above devices produced high-pitched noises, which can be stressful for gerbils.
Do Gerbils Like Music?
We know that gerbils can hear music in almost the same way that humans can. But whether gerbils enjoy music just as we do is a different question.
Humans have been creating and playing music for thousands of years. Music can relax us, excite us, help us to concentrate, or make us cry. We usually think of music as uniquely human, but science shows that animals respond to it too.
At present, there has been no musical research conducted specifically on gerbils. However, research has been done on other rodents, such as mice and rats.
A review by Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience found that music can have astounding effects on rodents. It can:
- Help them to relax in laboratory settings
- Improve their immune system
- Positively affect their brain structure and chemistry, e.g. when recovering from a stroke
- Improve their spatial memory
- Help them learn quicker
Most of the effects seem to come from music reducing stress levels in the body. Scientists still don’t know exactly how it works, but the benefits of music on animals are well-documented.
Is Music Good For Gerbils?
Though no research has been done on gerbils, they are related to rats and mice. So we can reasonably assume that gerbils respond to music similarly.
That’s not to say that music is an all-powerful drug that can cure illness and make your gerbil a genius. However, it does suggest that it might have some positive effects.
Many gerbil owners find that slow, relaxing music, such as classical music, helps their gerbils calm down. It can relieve tension in the gerbilarium and help gerbils fall asleep.
Other gerbils respond differently to music. They may run over to the side of the cage to see where the noise is coming from. Some gerbils may stop what they’re doing and appear transfixed.
Gerbils can develop a taste for certain genres of music, certain instruments, or specific artists. Play around with different styles of music to see how your gerbil responds to them.
What Kind of Music Do Gerbils Like?
Most research on how music affects rodents has used classical music. The positive effects of classical music have been reported in many animals, and rodents are no exception.
Classical music contains many relaxing and calming elements. It’s usually slow-paced and played using softer instruments like piano and strings. There are many harmonies produced by several different instruments playing at once. Usually, there are no vocals.
Rhythm seems to be important for rodents, too. Songs with steady, slow rhythms have more positive effects than songs with irregular or fast rhythms.
Rodents typically respond better to higher-frequency music than lower-frequency music. This is probably because they can hear better at higher frequencies. But gerbils can have a wider hearing range than other rodents, so they might enjoy songs of varying pitches.
That being said, extremely high-pitched music can stress gerbils out. This may be because it interferes with how they communicate with other gerbils.
Gerbils’ hearing is also more sensitive to high-frequency sounds. So high-pitched music played at a normal volume for us may sound unbearably loud for your gerbil.
No matter what kind of music you play, keep the volume low. Most gerbils dislike loud music and can become anxious or stressed in response. One study found that loud rock music can even impair rodents’ immune function.
What’s the Best Calming and Relaxing Gerbil Music?
If you want to play music for your gerbils, opt for music that’s soft, steady, and slow. Some good genres include:
- Classical music. Mozart, Chopin, and Bach are all good examples of composers to try. But avoid songs that have a cacophonous crescendo, which is common in the classical genre.
- Easy listening or mood music. Many gerbils enjoy instrumental piano or strings pieces.
- Chill-out music. This is a form of pop music with a deliberately slower tempo.
- Meditation music and sleep music.
Of course, some gerbils prefer more upbeat songs. You may find that your gerbil develops a liking for country music or pop music.
It’s best to avoid music that is loud and chaotic or with a fast tempo. This includes genres such as rock, heavy metal, and punk.
To be on the safe side, you can always wear headphones while listening to music. That way, you can listen to whatever you like, and your gerbil will be none the wiser.
How to Tell If Your Gerbil Likes Music
Not all gerbils like music. Some enjoy it, whereas others are stressed or frightened by it. And some gerbils don’t react at all.
Whether your gerbil will like listening to music depends on its personality. If your gerbil is anxious or nervous by nature, music might stress it out. This is likely if the music you listen to is loud or fast.
Gerbils that are confident and happy in their environment may not mind music or may enjoy it. The only way you’ll be able to tell is by experimenting. Put some music on at a reasonable volume, and watch your gerbil’s body language.
If your gerbil likes the music, it may stop and listen to it in a relaxed or curious pose. If you’re holding your gerbil, you might be able to feel it purring (vibrating) gerbil. It may even fall asleep.
Your gerbil may not react to the music at all. If it seems indifferent, it probably isn’t bothered one way or another. Be on the lookout for these signs that a gerbil is stressed or scared:
- Thumping its feet
- Running quickly around the cage
- Peeing and pooping a lot
- Going up onto its hind legs, with its front paws pressed together (alarm pose)
If you notice any of the above signs, turn the music off. You can always try a different type of music, but wait until your gerbil has calmed down first.