|In the order Rodentia, the family Muridae includes over 600 species of true rats, mice, gerbils and relatives. It is the largest family of mammals and its members are distributed throughout the world.|
Gerbils belong to the subfamily Gerbillinae, which includes approximately 110 species of African, Indian and Asian rodents, and they were once known as "Desert Rats".
The first known mention of gerbils came in 1866, by Father Armand David, who sent "yellow rats" to the Museum of Natural History in Paris, from northern China.
In 1954 they were brought to the USA for use in research by Dr. Victor Schwentker, after which they were introduced to the pet industry. They were brought to the UK in 1964 and they now feature in pet shops throughout the Europe and the USA.