If you have a female gerbil spending time with other male gerbils, there is a high chance she will end up pregnant. Gerbils are quite the sexually active rodents as they will take around four days to come into heat. This means they also get pregnant a lot, and if not careful, you may get overrun.
So, if your pet gerbil gets pregnant, how can you tell? Several symptoms can alert you, including fattening, mood swings, making a nest, and more.
It is odd that a huge number of people still get surprised to find a litter of gerbils in the cage one day, yet they had no clue the pet was pregnant. This article will look at tell-tale signs for a pregnant gerbil, plus a few tips on handling them while pregnant and after giving birth.
Let’s jump in!
How Will You Know That Your Pet Gerbil Is Pregnant?
Like many other mammals, gerbils reproduce sexually, with male and female gerbils mating to create offspring. Upon intercourse, the male gerbils’ sperm will fertilize the females’ ova to create embryos which will create an embryo that will subsequently develop into a pup.
Gerbils will normally reproduce between three and six pups, with a chance of going up to eight in one pregnancy cycle.
A unique thing about gerbils is that they do not get fertile at a certain time of the month; rather, they are fertile throughout. They undergo spontaneous ovulation, which means their eggs respond to mating.
Gerbil’s chances of conceiving are quite high and will get pregnant the first time they mate, meaning placing a female gerbil near a male one is a likely chance of pregnancy. Even pups can get offspring of their own at very early periods of their life. Although they are usually considered adults after they reach six months of age, they can get babies earlier.
Females gerbils start conceiving fro as early as nine weeks which means if not kept in check, you can get a huge number of gerbils in a short period, which in extreme scenarios may be unhealthy.
It is quite difficult to tell if your gerbil is pregnant, especially in the earlier stages of their pregnancy, as there is no change in behavior or body. Most people will wake up one day and find a litter of pups in the gerbils’ cage.
The best time to tell whether your gerbil is pregnant is a few days before giving birth. This is when the mother’s belly is fully swollen, and there is a change in the gerbils’ behavior, as it is around this time they experience hormonal changes.
However, if you are keen enough, there are certain tell-tale signs during the gestation period.
Subtle Signs of Pregnancy
- Increased Weight
- No Mating
- Increase Appetite
- Body Shape
- Personality Changes
- Nesting Behavior
Gerbils and Weight during Pregnancy
A gerbil will continuously gain weight throughout their pregnancy cycle but will lose it after giving birth and during weaning. Most of the extra weight is due to a couple of factors which include:
- Fat storage, which will be converted to milk for the pups
- Water retention, which essential to making amniotic fluid and help in increasing blood supply for the sake of the litter
- The number of pups being held in the mother’s womb
Gerbils will gain between 1-3 grams of weight daily, with a rapid increase in weight as they approach birth. You can keep track of the weight gain if you continuously weigh the pet. You can also tell the pet is pregnant n the last days of their pregnancy, as the gerbil will look like a pear, all fat and round.
It is advisable t weigh all your gerbils simultaneously as if all of them are constantly adding weight as opposed to only the female gerbils; then it may mean you are overfeeding the gerbils.
Can a Gerbil Mate while Pregnant
When female gerbils are not pregnant, they come into heat every four days, at least four times a month. While in heat, females are fertile and will mate a couple of times as long there is a male present. You can tell your gerbils are mating if you see:
- A gerbil grooming genital area after parting from partner
- The male mounts the female, she allows it to happen
- Female comes to the mate
When pregnant female gerbils do not mate with their male counterparts, this is a great tell-tale sign for pet owners.
However, there is a behavior called dominance mounting where gerbils mount each other to show dominance. Do not confuse this with mating, meaning you will need additional signs to tell your pets are mating or pregnant.
Pregnant Gerbils and Food Intake
While pregnant, gerbils will slowly increase their food intake. Although this may not count for much to the general quantity of food you provide, you may notice the pet is eating more than usual as the pregnancy progresses.
Suppose you become aware your pet gerbil is pregnant. In that case, it is always advisable to add the quantity of food you provide to ensure it has a healthy pregnancy, with all the nutrients to ensure the pups are growing healthy in the mother’s belly.
The extra supplements, protein, and food ratios go a long way in helping the mother also get the nutrients to provide healthy milk once we are born.
One of the ways you can tell the mother gerbil needs more food is their constant checking of the food bowl. Also, if the mother gerbil’s roommate is losing weight, it may mean the gerbil eating more may be pregnant, signaling you to add the food ration.
How a Pregnant Gerbil Looks Like
A gerbil will look streamlined and slim on normal occasions, with the body’s width being roughly similar from the neck to the rump. However, once they become pregnant, the body’s shape will start changing as the babies grow in the belly.
It will not be as pronounced during the first half of the pregnancy, and most people will not even notice it. This is because the ups are still too small to be noticed on the outside.
In the third trimester of the gerbil, the pregnancy will become obvious as the gerbil will get rounder and rounder with each passing day. In the last stages of the pregnancy, the gerbil appears like she is about to burst, all pear-shaped and round.
However, you should be aware that a bulge in the stomach does not necessarily mean that your gerbil is pregnant and may be a symptom of other problems, including
- Heart failure
- Bacterial infection
- Impacted gut
It is advisable to get your vet’s advice once you notice the swelling of the stomach to ascertain whether it’s a pregnancy or a disease.
How Pregnant Gerbils Act
As the pregnancy cycle continues, the gerbil will experience hormonal changes necessary for the development of the pups in the belly. The hormones produced inside the gerbil are estrogen and progesterone, which help trigger the development of the pup’s organs.
Apart from aiding in pregnancy, these hormones can also cause your gerbil to change behavior. They can trigger mood swings and some personality changes, where a once docile gerbil may become increasingly aggressive.
For the first part of the pregnancy, the gerbil will not be as moody during the first two to three weeks. You may not notice any temperamental changes, but as the last days of the pregnancy come around, the behavior change will become increasingly obvious.
Your gerbil may become anxious and even bite when you try and handle her. This is a natural reaction to protecting her pups, a defense mechanism used in the wild. She may even be aggressive to other gerbils, which may require you to separate them.
Gerbils and Nests while Pregnant
When your gerbil notices she is about to give birth, she will start building a nest made up of soft materials, chew them and use them to create a nest with a hole in the middle.
When gerbils are born, they cannot control their body heat, creating the necessity for a nest to help keep them from freezing to death. The mother gerbil will build a deeply warm and soft nest where her pup can stay as they develop.
She will use anything to build a nest as long as she deems it secure and comfortable for the pups.
This is one of the most obvious ways of telling that your pet gerbil s pregnant.
What to do if a Gerbil is Pregnant
For first-time gerbil owners, the idea of caring for a mother gerbil or a pregnant gerbil may be tricky for you but is not a hard job.
Gerbils make good mothers s, and as long as you provide them with what they need, they can pretty much take care of themselves.
However, to help make the gerbil even more comfortable while pregnant, there are a couple of things you can do, including:
Remove the Male Gerbil
If you know the father to the pups, ensure you separate him from the female gerbil, as it’s common for gerbils to mate immediately after giving birth, which may lead to the gerbil conceiving immediately.
If you own several gerbils, you will have to ascertain which are male and female through sexing or getting the vet’s advice.
Also, ensure you keep the male and female gerbils separated to help prevent uncontrolled breeding that can leave you overrun by gerbils.
If you want to have the male and female gerbils coexist in the same area, get the male gerbils neutered. However, this proves a bit difficult as several vets refuse to perform the procedure due to the risk posed to the gerbil.
Go for a Vetinerenian Checkup
It may not be a must but taking your pet to the vet once you realize its pregnant is a great idea, as you will get certainty that’s it’s no other reason the belly’s swelling, plus the vet will estimate how far along with the gerbil is t help you better serve it during this time.
The vet will also ensure her overall health is okay and answer any questions you may have
You can also take all your gerbils to the vet before the female gives birth to ensure he ascertains all their sexes to ensure there is no rogue male inside the cage with the female gerbils.
Supplement the Gerbils Diet
A gerbil’s appetite will increase once she gets pregnant. As the pups grow inside her, she will require more and more nutrients to help nature the pups and ensure they are healthy. She will also need to reserve a lot of fats to convert to milk for the pups once they are born.
You should provide supplements with your pregnant gerbil’s food to help boost different nutrient levels inside her.
- Small pieces of boiled chicken
- Nuts and seeds
- Small pieces of scrambled eggs
- Your gerbil will also likely take in more water during pregnancy.
Provide Nesting Materials
Before she gives birth, your pet gerbil will make a nest for her young ones. This means you should provide enough bedding material, including soft materials, to help keep the baby pups arm and comfortable.
Baby gerbils are born without regulating their body temperature, which means they may die from environmental factors within the cage or the wid. This is why gerbils build nests to keep their pups warm, comfortable, and protected.
Some of the bedding aerials you provide include:
- Plain white tissues
- Toilet paper rolls
- Paper pulp bedding
Stick to paper and wood while providing nesting materials as they are safe for digestion.
After your gerbil has built the nest, do not add or change the cage, plus avoid handling the baby gerbil too much as it may lead to developing unnecessary stress.
Monitor Pups Closely
Gerbils are pretty vulnerable in the first few weeks of their lives, as they are born blind deaf and with no control over their body temperature. This means they depend entirely on their other for survival.
For the first few weeks after birth, the mother will need more food to care for her pups’ also ensure the cage is away from direct sunlight and is at a warmer place.
Caring for the Baby Gerbils
Throw a towel love the cage to help calm the mother gerbil, which will, in turn, spend more time with her pups ensuring they are fed and well taken care of.
Handle The Pups After They Are A Week Old
You can only handle the pup after they are a week old to prevent the other from rejecting them. After they have grown a layer of fur, then you can handle them.
It’s essential to start handling them when they are young to get used to humans and get domesticated. Give the mother cardboard to chew on to allow you some time with the pup.
Gerbil babies may be surprisingly quick and can jump out of your hand to the floor and get injured. Ensure you are careful as you handle them as they are also delicate, and too much strength may injure them.
Take Them To The Vet If You See An Issue
Young gerbils may develop some respiratory issues or stomach-related issues that may lead them to diarrhea. it is a good thing to take them to the vet if you suspect anything wrong with them, as they are quite vulnerable when young
Watch out for Malnourishment
Some young pups may not be getting enough nourishment either due to competition or odd feeding habits. To help such pups, you can separate the rest of the litter for a while and let the malnourished pup suckles by herself.
Remember not to separate the litter for long periods as the mother may reject them once you return them.
Introduce Solid Food
Introduce solid food to the pet after it has reached at least three weeks. They will continue to nurse and start eating the solid food you provide as they slowly transition into a normal gerbil diet.
Some of the food you can introduce include cheerios, cornflakes, canary seeds, and regular gerbil food.
Place A Water Bottle Somewhere They Can Reach
At around three to five weeks of age, gerbils will start to drink water. Ensure you adjust the water bottle so that the gerbils can reach it. You can also spray the side of the can with water to help the pups find their way to the water bottle.
Do not place a bowl of water in the cage as the p may fall in and drown
Separate the Pups and the Mother at around Six Weeks
A female gerbil with proximity to a male gerbil will have a new litter in approximately six weeks. This means by then; the current litter should be separated from the mother. This is also to help prevent the current litter from breeding with no control whatsoever.
If possible, separate the male gerbils from the female gerbils or have the male gerbils neutered.
Reasons for Infertility in Gerbils
Having seen how fertile a gerbil can be, it may come as a surprise when you notice your pet is not getting any children even after getting introduced to a male in the cage. This may be due to infertility.
Although not widespread, infertility will affect a few gerbils due to several factors, including:
- Ovarian cysts
- Old age
- Sexual immaturity pesticides and toxins
- Nutritional issues
The more time you spend with your gerbil, the better you will notice any changes, which will help you decide what is happening with the gerbil. All in all, there are a few ways you can tell whether they are pregnant and if they are take great care of them to help them give birth and take care of their pups successfully.