How to Care for Baby Gerbils | A Helpful Guide

How to Care for Baby Gerbils
How to Care for Baby Gerbils

Are your Gerbils matured and close to their breeding season? Do you wish to know how to take proper care of your baby Gerbils when they arrive? This guide will take you through the preparatory steps on how to care for baby Gerbils after birth.

Let’s dive into the essential points to take note of when caring for newborn Gerbils.

Taking care of baby Gerbils requires attention because they are fragile. Start by preparing the housing with suitable substrates and clean the cage at least once a week. You will also have to provide them with wood to chew on, a water bottle, and some entertainment.

Gerbils are mammals; hence, they also show parental care to their babies. Therefore, you should also provide the mother with extra food, water, and suitable bedding. Ensure that you keep their cage warm and clean.

The below video shows you how baby gerbils grow in the first eight weeks

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How Long Does It Take for A Gerbil to Get Pregnant?

Gerbils have typical characteristics and features that are similar to other mammals. Gerbils will grow to full maturity before they can get pregnant. It takes 2 to 3 months old for a Gerbil to get pregnant.

This period is enough for Gerbils to grow into full maturity and handle pregnancy. Male Gerbils need about 70 to 85 days before they can impregnate female Gerbils.

The gestation period is usually between 25 days. The only exception to this case is if the Gerbil bred again during a nursing period. In this case, the gestation period might take longer than 25 days.

If the Gerbil is lactating while another fertilization occurs, the gestation period can take up to 40 to 45 days. Hence, it is best to regulate the breeding of Gerbils to control the way they get pregnant.

Likewise, you shouldn’t keep two matured Gerbil in the same cage. They will fight themselves, possibly to death, over male Gerbil. Gerbils can also get pregnant multiple times in their lifetime.

How Do I Know If My Gerbil Is Pregnant?

Several indications will let you know your Gerbil is pregnant. One of the biggest indications is from the shape of the belly. The belly of a pregnant Gerbil is usually swollen.

Gerbils are quite good with hiding pregnancies. But they cannot hide their weight gain, and it takes careful observation to figure it out.

Some pregnant Gerbils will even take the shape of a pear. In this case, the lower part of the Gerbil’s body will be obviously larger than the upper part. You will have a clear view of this body change if you observe the Gerbil from the top.

Another way to know when Gerbils are pregnant is nesting, and it usually occurs when delivery is imminent. The pregnant Gerbil will start preparation by gathering a lot of bedding materials to create a nest. This nest’s essence is to create a suitable place for birth and take care of their children.

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How to Tell If Your Gerbil Is in Labor?

Gerbils can be very discreet when it comes to pregnancy and labor. You might not know when these two stages are on if you are not observant. You can know your Gerbil is in labor when it isolates itself, becomes restless, and less active at the same time.

You can start preparing for imminent delivery when the Gerbil starts nesting. You don’t have to interfere in the nesting process. The only thing to do is to prepare the cage and make it suitable for Gerbil’s delivery.

Also, ensure that you evacuate the male Gerbil from the cage when the female is about to go into labor. This decision is necessary because Gerbils can mate multiple times during labor if a male is present.

How Many Baby Gerbils Are There in a Litter?

The gestation period of Gerbils takes 24 days, and a litter can consist of 1 to 8 pups. Once the pups are born, you should leave them to their mothers and not make obvious changes until a few days. It would help if you didn’t even change the beddings.

It might be relatively difficult to figure out the number of pups or baby Gerbils that will be delivered until the labor is completely over.

What Are Gerbil Babies Called?

Like every other animal, Gerbils have a name given to their young ones. Gerbil babies are called pups. They will retain this name until they are a few weeks old.

What Do Baby Gerbils Look Like?

Baby Gerbils do not appear like their parents or other mammals immediately after they are born. Within the first few days, when baby Gerbils are born, they are tiny and appear completely hairless.

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The head of baby Gerbil is almost half of the rest of the body within the first few days. The pups are tiny, and the entire body is about half an inch long.

The pup’s eyes will remain shut, and their ears are closed as well; hence, they can neither see nor hear. The tail is distinct from the rest of the body, and the body is reddish-pink, and it appears like their body has no covering.

The initial appearance persists for a few days before the body morphology starts to change. After the first three weeks, they will be able to open their eyes completely. The hair on their body will start becoming obvious.

Also, the size of the head will be in the correct proportion with the rest of their body. And they will start appearing like the smaller version of their parents.

What to Do When Your Gerbils Have Had Babies?

There are two possibilities. You are either expecting the Gerbil babies, or they have unexpected babies. In either case, the first thing you should do is to leave the pups with the mother.

If it is an unexpected delivery, the first thing you need to do is evacuate the male Gerbil from the cage (if any).

Within the first week, the pups huddle together, and the presence of their mother keeps them warm. They will have to maintain this setting until the pups grow their soft downy fur coats.

Summarily, there is little or nothing you can do to help the pups in the first week. The best you can offer is to optimize the litter’s temperature and ensure proper feeding for the mother.

Here are some of the things you need to keep in place if your Gerbils have had babies.

1. Keep the Babies Warm

Warmth is essential for baby Gerbils, especially during the first week. The puppies are without fur coats; hence, they huddle together close to their mother to tap some warmth.

You can improve the temperature by moving their cage to a warmer part of the room. Move it away from doors, windows, and other areas where external cold can easily affect them.

2. Give the Mother Extra Food and Water

Lactating mothers require adequate feeding. Gerbils are not an exception to this rule because they also breastfeed their babies like other mammals.

Remember that your pups cannot yet feed directly. They get all their nutrients and diet from their mother. Consequently, if the mother is poorly fed, it will affect the pups’ growth and development.

It is best to feed the mother with highly nutritional food to help the growth of the babies. You should also expect them to eat more at this time because they are lactating. Clean water and a great diet will keep the mother healthy enough to take care of the pups.

3. Monitor the Babies Movement

Pups usually remain blind until the third week. However, they will start moving around to explore from the second week.

It is best to monitor their movement and ensure that they don’t move too far away from their mother. A single pup should also not move too far away from the pack.

Clean their cage and ensure that you don’t leave anything in there that can trap the pups. If you don’t remove potentially dangerous materials, the pups might injure themselves because they are still blind.

Similarly, you can also cover some opened parts of the cage with a blanket or other thick clothing. This might have to continue until the pups grow their soft downy fur coats.

How to Handle Baby Gerbils Safely

During the second week, it is expected that the fur of the baby Gerbil will start growing. You can now handle the pups, but you have to be careful because they are still fragile.

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It is a good idea to start handing Gerbils frequently while still young to help them get used to humans. However, it would be best if you were cautious while handling pups. Here are some of the tips that can help you handle pups safely.

  • Distract the mothers the first time you want to pick their pup because they might want to react to protect the pups.
  • Form a cup with your hand and gently scoop the baby Gerbil on top.
  • Ensure that you properly enclose the baby Gerbil with the cup formed with your hand. Baby Gerbils are surprisingly quick; hence, they can make sharp movements that can make them fall off your hand.
  • Only hold baby Gerbils over a flat soft surface, so they won’t injure if they fall off.

When Do Baby Gerbils Open Their Eyes?

Baby Gerbils will remain blind and deaf for the first two weeks. They will start opening their eyes gradually from the third week. Their eyes will open one at a time in a gradual fashion.

Although baby Gerbils will start moving around from the second week, it doesn’t mean they are no longer blind. You can tell that they can properly see when they start weaning and showing a level of independence.

Likewise, their dark, shiny eyeballs will become visible, and they will become more active. But it takes a longer time for their ear to open.

When Do Baby Gerbils go onto Solids?

Baby Gerbils might not be ready to go into solid foods until after 5 weeks. You don’t have to rush this stage because the mother has enough nipples for every pup. The best time for weaning is after five weeks of birth, and it is a natural process.

You can figure out that the baby Gerbils are ready for solid when the mother starts rejecting their advances for breast. This action will teach the babies to start gnawing on solid foods.

It is best to start feeding them highly nutritious food that will favor their growth. Avoid food that has high sugar, acid, or water content. Consider feeding them with dried vegetables, wheat grains, soybean hulls, sunflower seeds, etc.

Gerbils are capable of digging and finding their food. Therefore, it is not advisable to offer them food in a bowl because it will encourage fight and competition. It is better to sprinkle the food all over the cage.

Gerbils also love digging substrates to find food. No need to hand over the food to them. They will find it and feed on it appropriately.

Does the Dad Help to Raise Baby Gerbils?

Gerbils are mammals; hence, it is normal for them to show parental care. Both parents actively help in raising baby Gerbils. In fact, older babies, sisters, and brothers of the mother can also help to raise baby Gerbils.

Gerbils make superb parents, including the father. They do a great job in caring for the baby Gerbils until they wean at five weeks. They can care for the pups with minimal human intervention, particularly in the first week.

Male and female Gerbils will take turns grooming the pups. They stay around to take care of the baby Gerbils and keep them warm. Contrary to the belief of many, Gerbils will not eat their babies except they get seriously disturbed.

Therefore, you can leave the baby Gerbils with their parents until 6-8 weeks when they are fully developed. Ensure that you separate them after eight weeks (particularly opposite sex) to prevent unexpected pregnancy.

What Solids Can You Feed A Baby Gerbil?

Baby Gerbils will be ready for solid foods after weaning. The weaning process usually happens after five weeks. Once they are ready for solid foods, you can feed them with dried vegetables, wheat grains, soybean hulls, and sunflower seeds.

Other suitable options include;

  • Roasted peanut bits
  • Uncooked oats
  • Canary seeds
  • Cornflakes or Cheerios
  • Fruits (E.g., apples, banana, and pears)

You should avoid feeding your baby Gerbils with foods that have too much sugar, acid, and water. It is best to avoid fruits like pineapple, orange, and other similar acidic and sugary fruits.

When Can You Separate Baby Gerbils From their Mom?

You can separate baby Gerbils from their mom two to three weeks after weaning. This period is usually between six to eight weeks after birth. Six weeks is enough for the pups to complete all mental, physical, and emotional development that they need with their parents.

A baby Gerbil can live completely independent of its parents after six weeks. They can look after themselves and fend for food. However, you will harm the baby Gerbils if you separate them earlier than six weeks or before full weaning.

Female Gerbils can have another baby six weeks after their last delivery. It is best to prepare for this, particularly if you did not separate the males at the initial stage.

Why Has My Baby Gerbil Died?

It is not usual for baby Gerbil to die. There are several reasons that can cause your baby Gerbil’s death, and the most common of them is the lack of proper care. Inappropriate temperature, poor feeding of the mother, dirty cage, death traps in the cage, and other health complications are also notable causes.

The bad news is that baby Gerbils might not show any observable sign of illness or health complications. They are usually too small to show an observable symptom. Hence, it is best to keep everything in place to protect them.

Ensure proper temperatures in the cage and keep it clean. Feed the mother appropriately with good food and clean water. Also, avoid handling the pup within the first week or before they grow their fur coat.

Conclusion

Gerbils are amazing animals with an easy breeding process. Like every other mammal, Gerbils show parental care for their pups. They keep their babies around for the first five weeks before complete weaning.

Gerbils need only 2 to 3 months to start breeding, and the gestation period usually takes 25 days. It is best to move the baby Gerbils to a different cage after 6 to 8 months. Don’t forget to feed the baby Gerbils with an appropriate diet once they move to eat solids.

With this guide, you can be sure of a successful breeding and development of your new born Gerbils.