FIND OUT WHICH PETS ARE RIGHT FOR YOU..

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Gerbils

Lifespan
Nutrition
Housing
Bedding
Toys
Handling

Company
Introducing Gerbils
Males vs Females
Sexing
Illnesses
Breeding

Pictures
Videos
Polls
Comments
Discussions

Company

Short Answer - Gerbils love to live together and will be unhappy if kept alone. Keep in same sex pairs or groups.

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Long Answer - Gerbils are very social creatures and love to live in pairs or groups. Gerbils really shouldn’t be kept alone; it decreases their life span, they are less active, unhappy and actually less easy to tame and handle. Even if you are around lots of the day, the gerbil will still have no one to play with, eat with, sleep with or groom. Although human companionship is fantastic, it shouldn’t be a substitute for getting your gerbil a friend – it is no harder to keep two gerbils than one, and they will still need to live in the same size environment – a cage too small for two, is too small for one! There is nothing better than watching your gerbils play together and interact with one another.

Introducing Gerbils

Short Answer - Try to introduce gerbils when they are young as it’s easier. Swap bedding over to get used to each other’s scent. Always introduce on neutral territory. Separate if they fight. Not always likely to work out.

Males vs Females and what to look for when you buy

Short Answer - Keep gerbils in same sex pairs or groups to prevent breeding. Buy gerbils all at once as it’s not always easy to mix them after 8-10 weeks. Look for healthy gerbils; shiny coat, bright eyes, inquisitive and easy to handle.

Long Answer - A pair or group of females or males can be kept together. A male and a female will also get on well but beware – they are keen breeders, so same sex groups are better. Gerbils that have been living together since before 10 weeks old or are siblings should get on well for life. Obviously like any animal, when they hit maturity they may begin to scrap (more common in males). If this is the case, extra food bowls, beds and toys should be put in. If they continue to fight or have drawn blood, you may have to consider separating them – but this is rare. When you purchase your gerbils, make sure they look healthy – look for a smooth, glossy coat, bright eyes, alert and friendly gerbil. Make sure they are kept in a clean and appropriate environment, and they should be in same sex groups. The seller should be able to sex the gerbils for you so you can see you are getting what you think you are! They should usually be around 6-10 weeks old. When you get your gerbils, go for ones which are already living together as it can be difficult to mix them after this time.

Sexing

Short Answer - Can sex gerbils from 4-6 weeks old. Males have larger gap between urinary opening and the anus. More mature males will also have testicles sitting either side of the openings.

Long Answer - Gerbils should be fairly easy to sex from around 4-6 weeks old. To determine the gender of your gerbil, turn it gently on its back – look above the base of the tail. A male gerbil will have a wide gap between the penis and anus, and as they start to mature, there should be a pair of testicles which sit either side of the two vents. Female gerbils have the two holes, very close together. They may sometimes look like one area, and when compared to a male gerbil the difference should be very clear. Take a look at the pictures for a more detailed understanding.

Penis

Urethra

Testicles

Anus

Illnesses

Short Answer - Look out for lethargy, dull and ruffled coat, mucus or crusting round eyes or nose, diarrhoea, tilted head, itching and lack of appetite.

Long Answer - Gerbils can suffer from various illnesses. Signs of ill health may include, but are not limited to; lethargy, dull and ruffled coat, mucus or crusting round eyes or nose, diarrhoea, tilted head, itching and lack of appetite.
Epilepsy affects between 20-50% of pet gerbils, which can lead to epileptic fits. The fits can be brought on by a new environment, frightening sounds or actions, and handling. Usually the epileptic fits are not severe and are should not have any long lasting effects. In rare cases if the seizure is severe it may lead to death. Apparently, seizures can be brought on by blowing in your gerbils face so be sure never to do this. Tyzzer’s disease is another is an infectious illness which can be brought on by stress or an excess of certain bacteria – symptoms can include diarrhoea, ruffled fur and a hunched position. It can spread quickly so any potentially infected gerbils should be isolated and seek veterinary treatment. Gerbils can sometimes get diarrhoea if they have too much fat or carbohydrates in their diet, so extra hay and other fibre should be added and fatty treats reduced. If your gerbil is tilting its head it could possibly have an ear infection. Mites can also be caught from infested hay – use a spot on to prevent infestations. If handled incorrectly or if attacked by another animal a gerbil may lose its tail - be sure never to pick up a gerbil by its tail. If you are concerned for your gerbil’s health you should seek advice from a veterinarian.

Breeding

Short Answer - Gerbil’s gestation is about 24 days. Give female extra bedding and nesting area a few days before birth. Pups are born as pinkies and open eyes around 3 weeks old. Sex the gerbils and start finding good homes from 6-8 weeks.

Long Answer - Gerbils are prolific breeders and a female gerbil can become pregnant within 24 hours after giving birth – resulting in a litter once a month if you let them so only keep a mixed sex pair if you intend to breed. Make sure breeding pairs are healthy, friendly and unrelated. A gerbil’s gestation period is usually around 24 days. You may notice her abdomen expanding after a couple of weeks if she is pregnant, but usually it is most visible a few days before the birth. Your gerbil may also be less keen to be handled and become more aggressive or territorial about her cage. Clean the cage out and put a nest box and extra nesting material in to the cage a few days before the birth and remove the wheel. Once the gerbil has given birth there is nothing for you to do. Leave her alone with her young – occasionally if a baby is born deformed or dead the mother will eat it – this is just nature so you should allow her to do this. The pups are born as pinkies – they are hairless and born with their eyes and ears shut. Make sure that at around 3 weeks, when the pup’s eyes start opening that you are handling them lots – this gets them used to lots of human interaction. If you handle the young before this, make sure you have clean hands, as any unusual scents can cause the mother to reject her young. The gerbils need to stay with their mother until they are fully weaned which should be at around 4-5 weeks old. At this time it is advisable to sex the gerbils, and remove any males in to another cage, as they can potentially impregnate their mother if left in too long. The females may stay with mum until all the gerbils are ready to find new homes from 6-8 weeks old. Aim to re-home your gerbils in pairs or groups rather than by themselves. They should never be kept as mixed sex as they are siblings – this will not stop them breeding but is not good for any potential pup’s health. Ask friends or family, list them on websites/newspapers or small pet shops may also sometimes take young gerbils from you. Always make sure your gerbil is going to a responsible owner.

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