The Mongolian Gerbil comes from the semi-desert regions of Mongolia and northern China. They live in extensive burrow systems in family groups of between 12 and 20. There will be a dominant male and female who breed, several males who will help forage and defend the territory controlled by the burrow, and younger gerbils being raised. Any older males and females that threaten the dominance of the breeding pair will be driven from the burrow. The burrow is very important as it provides protection from predators, which for the Mongolian Gerbil is mainly birds of prey, and also provides protection from the climate. Gerbils in the wild live in a very harsh climate. Summer daytime temperatures can exceed 120°F (50 °C) and in winter temperatures can drop as low as -40 °C/F. The differences between day and night can also be extreme. In parts of the Mongolian Gerbil’s range 86°F (30 °C) can be reached during the day with temperatures of below 32°F (0 °C) at night. Living 3 feet (1 m) or more below ground the gerbils can shelter from these extremes. They also store food in special chambers in their burrow, and also drink the moisture that condenses on the cool walls of the tunnels.
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