Gerbils are bigger than mice but smaller than rats. Unlike rats and mice, their tails are fully furred with a tuff at the end. Gerbils were once desert creatures, meaning they lived in the desert. Pretty cool, huh? Unlike hamsters, gerbils thrive on company. Gerbils dont do good by theirselves unless they have enough to occupy them, however, some are different. Gerbils, when with one or more gerbils, will groom each other and sleep together.Gerbils love being held and rarely bite. They bite out of fear! They must have a sweet side or something special because they have captured the hearts of many people in this world.
Feeding~My gerbils eat a fair amount of food. Its amazing for such small animals. I always make sure my gerbils have food in their cage. I pick out the fatty parts of the food such as the sunflower seeds and peanuts. If you really can't afford to be buying gerbil food all the time then feed them once in the morning and and once at night.
Treats~Every Monday and Thursday I give my gerbils a treat. Treats can be a frosted flake, a few dry oats, 1 sunflower feed, 1 dab of yogurt, a cherry, a piece of carrot, or a cheerio. Don't overfeed your gerbils with these fatty foods.Make your own treat schedule..Don't give too many.I also give my gerbils veggies, but once again not too much.You should provide your gerbils with lots of toys, whether it be expensive toys you buy at a pet shop or a cereal box. Gerbils are very curious animals and will usually like any toy they are provided with. Some toys can be dangerous. Get to know what toys are safe, what toys can be modified to be safe, and ones that are extremely dangerous!
Wheels~ Gerbils love to run on wheels and will do so at all hours they are awake. You should first read this list about wheels before buying your wheel. Know what kind of wheel to get. Don't go for the cheaper price. Do it the safe way.Are plastic wheels safe? Most don't have spokes.It all depends on the wheel. We all should know as gerbil owners that gerbils will chew or try to chew anything they are given. If you buy plastic wheels you will be cleaning out chunks of plastic within a day, or week, or even months. Gerbils will chew it. The plastic wheels are not safe. We all know plastic can be very light. If your gerbil would run on the wheel and do a strange movement on the wheel it could cause it to tip over and hurt your gerbil. We all think plastic wheels are safe because most dont have spokes, but hopefully this will make you think twice.What about metal wheels? They are heavier.It all depends on the wheel. Metal wheels are dangerous but can be modified to make them safe. The spokes are very harmful to gerbils if their tails would or legs would happen to get caught in them.
My gerbil died with a broken neck from a spoked wheel.Sorry to hear that. Gerbils can die from very mild injuries or very serious injuries from wheels. If you are lucky to see the accident happen them you can get your gerbil to a vet immediately, although we all don't have gerbil vets in our area.How can I make my spoked wheel safe?There is only a few ways. The method I use is very simple. I take a piece of foil and wrap it tightly around the outside of the wheel. Any excess foil hanging off the outside of the wheel I curl under to hold the foil on. This will protect your gerbils tails, necks, and feet.
Next I hang the wheel from the side of the cage so it won't fall on the gerbils. My wheels came with hooks to do so. If yours doesn't have hooks I recommend using duck tape. Wrap duck tape under the bottom holder of the wheel and hang it securely from the side of the cage.My wheel is metal with no spokes.Some people are lucky to find such wheels.They do cost a little more than the average dangerous wheels but these wheels are pretty safe. I would still hang it from the side of the cage though to be sure. I don't believe you. My gerbil has a plastic wheel or spoked wheel.I am only giving my opinion on the subject. Just because a gerbil is fine with their wheel for a day, month of even a year doesnt mean that wheel is safe. It depends on the gerbil. Don't wait for an accident to happen or not to happen. You arent proving anything. Do it safely.
Rocks and Wood Can a gerbil die from wood?Yes, gerbils COULD die from wood. The wood could send off a fume when soiled on or if the wood has been furnished then this could send off very toxic fumes. The wood could also fall and crush your gerbil. I use unfurnished wood and I sit my wood flat in the cage so it can't be knocked around that much.I use rocks. My gerbil loves it!When using rocks I prefer buying petshop rocks instead of using the ones outside. If you do use ones outside you should wash them thoroughly and dry them well before placing them in the cage. Make sure they aren't that havent and that they don't have any sharp edges. I dont use rocks.I don't either. Its not a rule that you have to have rocks in order to keep a gerbil.I were to use rocks I'd use petshop rocks. They are made for animals and have been treated with the proper materials for the animals safety." Do you know how to care for your gerbils? Know how to love them? It takes more than feeding them. You need to spend time with them at least twice a day.I'm scared to touch my new gerbils.Don't be scared. Gerbils usually dont bite unless they feel they are being attacked. Wash your hands with soap and dry them. Sit your hand in their cage and let them smell you. Eventually they will get used to you picking them up. Just dont chase them or they will be scared of you.
My gerbil never stops biting me. Is it because he's black? I've heard black are aggressive.NO! Not at all! Color has nothing to do with it! Some are just more aggressive than others. Try to tame him using seeds. Does he take food from your hand? If he continues to bite try Bitter Apple. When he bites you he'll taste that nasty taste. Pretty soon he'll know that you taste nasty and he'll stop biting you.
Thumping~Male gerbils thump when sexually excited. This is a sign that they want to mate. Mating thumps are different than danger thumps to the trained ear and to gerbils!Gerbils thump whenever something alarms them. They thump their big back feet over and again to alert the others of danger. When a gerbil is doing a danger thump usually all gerbils in that area stand on their hind legs and investigate.
Fighting~Like humans, gerbils fight, too. Adult gerbils will fight when a new adult gerbil comes into their home. You must never bring two unfimilar adult gerbils together because of fighting. Its hard to distinguish playing from fighting, but there are a few ways. If they are rolling around in a ball and there is squeaking then you must serperate the two immediatly. This means they are trying to kill each other. Also, if you see signs of blood they really need to be seperated quickly.
Making their territory~Gerbils have scent glands and these are used to mark their terriotory.They mark their terrioty by what looks like stretching.You should check these glands to make sure they haven't developed a tumor..
Digging madly in the corner~Alot of gerbils dig in the corner. The first reaction that comes to mind is that they are trying to escape and so we take them out to play.Gerbils love to dig so this may not be the case.
Fighting over the waterbottle~Sometime gerbils fight over the waterbottle. If their water bottles have been empty for quite some time then you should expect that. But if they have been filled and they are fighting over it then it is because they both feel the need to have a drink. Sometimes when my mom gets a drink I say to myself, "A drink sounds good right now." Gerbils do the same thing.
Sexing gerbils is very simple. The characteristics between them are so different, that you probably don't even need this page for help, but in case you do, it's all here!
-Males have a bump underneath their tales. This is called the Testes. It is totally absent in females.
-The anus and the urinary tract openings are farther apart then females.
-Males are usually bigger
In the beginning when the pups are young it will be very hard to determine male or female by the ways above but there are ways to tell!
-Males have a smooth stomach, no signs of nipples.
-Females do not have the bump under the tail that the male has.
-Females anus and urinary tract opening are closier together.
-Females are usually smallier.
In the beginning its pretty easy to pick out females from males because females have nipples, even when young.
Gerbils homes are very important, but the main thing is to keep it clean. In this section I will tell you about the kind of cages you should have for your gerbils.
The wire cages are not a good choice when choosing homes for your gerbils. Gerbils love to dig so there would always be litter flying out of the cage. Also, they love to chew plastic, and most wire cages have a plastic bottom. Also, the gerbils run their noses off the wire and this can cause their noses to become raw. The ventilation in these cages are wonderful but yet they aren't the right choice, or at least not for me.
The plastic homes with all the tunnels are really great, too, but I wouldn't use them. The ventilation in these aren't really that good and they'd also be hard to clean. Also, most are plastic and once again your gerbil will chew through. It may take some time but they most likely will chew through.
Aquariums, for me, are the best choice of cage. The gerbils can't chew through them or throw bedding everywhere. The ventilation in these aren't as good as in wire cages but my gerbils are living just fine. When choosing an aquarium you need to think about how many gerbils your planning on having. For 3 gerbils a 10 gallon tank is perfect, but for each additional gerbil you should add 5 gallons to the tank. If you are planning on breeding you need to make sure you have a good size tank. You don't want to have over crowding.
I think most cages should have lids for the top, especially if you have cats. Cat's will do anything to get to these tiny gerbils.
Don't use pine for bedding, wanna know why, read this:
Breeding gerbils is a big responsibility. Its not something that you should take lightly. Before you start breeding you need to think about a few things.
Its very easy to place a male and female gerbil into a tank and provide them with their daily essentials: food, freshwater, and chews and then wait for them to mate. But it takes something very important to make the process successful for not only the gerbils but for you also. You want to have a great expierence with the animal each time and rushing into this without enough time isnt a good thing. If you don't take the time to handle your gerbils then they wont trust you enough to handle their babies. It only takes 10 minutes at the most to give your gerbils some taming sessions. If your schedule is too busy to squeeze in 10 minutes then you should reconsider breeding your gerbils. It takes time for your gerbils to get to trust you. When the babies are born you'dd need double the 10 minutes to handle each of the babies individually to tame.
Money The 2nd thing is money. Ask yourself if you have enough money to supply food, waterbottles, food dishes, chew toys, hide-outs, bedding, space and treats? Sure, it doesnt seem like much but once they start to breed you'll find that out. Once they start breeding and turning 6 weeks old you'll need to seperate them, males in one tank, females in the other. If you want to breed one of the pups do not use a sibling. Inbreeding can be bad. Space
Do you have space? Your gerbil family will grow very fast! Do you have space for your newborns? Overcrowding can be very dangerous. It causes stress and even severe fighting. You need to prevent this from happening by providing space. Two gerbils fit comfortably in a 10 gallon. For each additional gerbil add 5 gallons. You'll also need space to keep your tanks. I recommend making a room just for your gerbil tanks.
Since you've read all that your not ready to learn all about gerbil breeding and reproduction!
Its important to know genetics before you start breeding. If your just breeding to get more gerbils then it really isn't an option but if your planning on selling the gerbils then you need to know genetics and colors so you can predict what colors you will get from the litter. This is very important. There are several sites that help with that:
Gerbil Calculator-This is a nifty program that gives you an idea of what your gerbils will produce.
Dani Clans Genetic Page-Really good right here. Knows a lot about Genetics.Now lets get started. If you have one gerbil and are going to buy another gerbil of a different sex you need to learn how to introduce the gerbils to one another. Whatever you do make sure you don't put them together within the first day. It takes a lot of time for them to get to know each other. What you do is divide the cage in half with a divider that can be found at pet stores. Divide the gerbils and leave them that way for about 1-2 days. Then switch the gerbils onto the other side and leave for 1-2 days. Then return them to their regular. This way they have gotten to know the scent of the other gerbil. NOTE: The divider should be see-thru and so they are able to sniff to each other. Now you should let the gerbils together but supervise for an hour or so. If any signs of fighting occur then put the divider back in and do repeat the process.
Gerbils become sexually mature around the age of 3 months, although if a gerbil is placed with another mature gerbil of the opposite sex this could occur sooner. Once your gerbils are sexually mature you just wait. By waiting I don't mean sitting in front of the cage. It may take weeks to even months before your gerbils decide to become parents. Don't get impatient and force them mate; it isnt possible. Once your gerbils are ready they will mate.
Females have a estrus cycle ever 4-6 days usually. This is usually the time when you notice and hear the male thumping his back feet. This is a mating call, he's sexually aroused. He will begin chasing the female around the cage and will sniff her genitals. This process can be interesting to watch; depends on the person. I myself saw the process and thought it to be interesting but gross. If the female accepts the mate she will lift her hind quarters and let the male mount. He will mouth for about 3 seconds. Each mount only lasts a few seconds. After each mount he will check himself and wash himself and then continues the mating process. Once they both check and wash themselves he has ejaculated. The mating process varies in time for each breeding pair usually. Mine usually stop after 3 hours, while another pair may go at it for 24 hours. It depends on the gerbil.After they mate mark your calendar 21-25 days down along the road and start to prepare for pups, but don't be disappointed if no pups arrive; this happens. Hopefully they will try again.Once they have completed the mating process the waiting process hops right in the way again. Around 10-15 days you may start to notice some differences in your females behavior and eating habits. She will be eating and drinking more. She may also not be doing the usual gerbil activities: digging, playing, etc. She may also be very concerned with getting a good nest. Her nipples may be more prominent and her belly will look and feel like a sack of marbles.
The number of pups depends on the number of eggs that are fertilized. The usual is four to five but this will vary. Sometimes an egg may split to create twins. The record for most pups in gerbil births is 14 so far. Hopefully someone will break that record soon.
The gestation period of a non-nursing female is 21-25 days. The pair will mate again immediately after the female gives birth, but implantation of the egg will be put off for a bit so that the female will not have to nurse two litters. The gestation period for a nursing female is 25-42 days. The egg is delayed so she won't be stuck with raising two litters.
During the pregnancy the female should have more treats than usual and her protein and fat intake should be increased a little. You can give her sunflower seeds, a little more than usual. Provide her with plenty of fresh water.
When the pups are about 5 days from being due this should be the time to change the cage and clean it out very well. If you can, try to leave the nest she has built in the cage. She may move the nest to another corner after this changing though. I think this is better than working around pups.
Baby gerbils are born blind, hairless, deaf, and unable to regulate their body temperature. They are, however, able to squeak. It is possible to tell eye color at birth. Black-eyed gerbils will have black spots underneath where the eyes will be. Ruby and pink-eyed gerbils will not, and their eyes will somewhat blend in with the skin. If your gerbil is going to be a light colored gerbil the skin will be pink, where, usually, dark colored gerbils will be slightly darker.
3-5 Days Old: The ears will open at this age. A very thin coat of fur will start to grow.
7-10 Days Old: The fur will become slightly heavier and cover more of the body. It is possible to determine what colors the pups are. It is also possible to sex the pups at this age. Females will have little dots on their bellies which are nipples. The pups may start to leave the nest at this time. But don't worry,..mom will take them back.
11-16 Days Old: The teeth will start to grow in at this age. Once the pup starts to get teeth, it may start trying to chew on things and eat solid food. However, the pup will still nurse for another 2 weeks. The pups will start to explore the cage at this age also. The fur will be getting heavier.
17-20 Days Old: This is the average age at which the eyes open. It may be a few days sooner, or it may be a few days later. The eyes usually do not open at the same time. It is common to see a pup with one eye open and one still shut. The other eye should open within a day or so after the first one opens. By this age, the pup should be able to regulate its own body temperature as well. The pup should also have a full coat of fur by now. However, full ticking may not be present, and those fur colors which involve a change in the color (ex. nutmegs and shimmels) will not have changed yet.
28 Days Old: The pups will probably be weaned by now, and will be very soon if they haven't already. It is a good idea to keep them with the mother for at least another week (preferably 2 weeks), so that they can grow a little more and to make sure they are healthy. This is especially important with larger litters where the pups may be slightly smaller and weaker. If there are any runts in the litter, it is absolutely necessary to keep them with the mother until they are at least 6 weeks old.
If the mother has another litter when the pups are 4-6 weeks old, it is usually okay to keep the older litter in with the younger one. Studies have shown that pups that help raise younger siblings make better parents. However, if the mother starts attacking the older pups, it is best to remove them.
6 Weeks Old: It is generally okay to separate pups from their mother at this age. The only exception might be runts or a sickly pup.
8-10 Weeks Old: The pups become sexually mature and may begin to mate if there are gerbils of the opposite sex in the cage with them.
It is at this age that any changes in fur coloring, such as with nutmegs and schimmels, will become complete.
12-16 Weeks Old: The gerbil will reach its full grown size at this age. Sexually mature.
Thanks "Gerbil Development for some great information on how gerbils grow after birth!
When should I handle the cuties?.
I say at least 3 hours after birth although probably any time is possible. Mom may get upset with you moving her babies from the nest.
My mommy gerbil bit me when I tried to pick up her babies.
She doesn't want them bothered. They are very protective with their babies. Try later.
One of pups isn't in the nest with the others.
Carefully stick it back in the nest with the others.
My gerbil isn't nursing the pups.
Wait awhile. If their bellies don't show any milk then use replacement milk. Your local pet shop can help you find the perfect kind.
My female gerbil was eating something right after birth but all the pups are still there.
Was she trying to eat one?
She was eating the placenta sack. Placenta is: The vascular organ in mammals except monotremes and marsupials that unites the fetus to the maternal uterus and mediates its metabolic exchanges through a more or less intimate association of uterine mucosal with choronic and usu. allantoic tissues; also : an analogous organ in another animal. Nothing to worry about.
Should I remove the dad?
No, he is sometimes a better mom than the mom. He keeps them warm while mom is busy. If he is trying to harm them than remove him. Remember, you will need to use the Introducing Gerbils method before putting him back in with the others.
I held the pup and it flew out of my hand and died.
Gerbils don't fly. Sorry to hear that your gerbil died from falling from your hand. When you hold them please cup your two hands together to make a little shelter in the palm of your hands. This will protect the baby from falling.
...they mated forever and still no PUPS and its the 35 day!
Is this her first litter? Is she nursing another litter? It could be none of the eggs were fertilized.
I cant find homes!
You should have thought of this before breeding. Pet shops usually take gerbils, but you honestly don't know what kind of home they are going to. They may even be dinner for a snake. Don't give your babies to pet shops. Put an add in the newspaper and interview the person before giving them your pup. If you cant find homes then pet shop is an option, but I dont recommend it.