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Baby Gerbil: What They’re Called & Care Guide

Baby gerbils are called gerbil pups. They are born after a gestation period of 24 days. They are blind at birth and are reliant on their mother for protection and nutrition.

Are you looking to buy a baby gerbil? Then you need to know how to care for it, how fast it grows, and what it needs to grow strong.

Gerbils are fast growers. They don’t stay small for long. But there are still some risks they face as younglings.

This article talks about everything you need to know about gerbil babies and gives you tips on how to care for them properly.

What Is a Baby Gerbil Called?

What Is a Baby Gerbils Called
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Baby gerbils are called pups. They reach adulthood quickly as their lives are short compared to other rodents.

Gerbils reproduce quickly and give birth multiple times a year to a litter of pups.

Pups are helpless at first. They are unable to regulate their body temperature when they are born. They are reliant on their mother to provide them with nutrition and care until they become adults.

Gerbil babies are born completely pink with no hair on their bodies. Their eyes and ears are closed, and they are completely blind. They open their eyes after a couple of weeks of being born.

In the absence of the father, female gerbils sometimes eat their children.

How Many Babies Do Gerbils Have?

Female gerbils give birth to around one to eight pups at a time. The litter size can be higher or lower depending on the circumstances. The average litter size hovers around five to six.

How Many Babies Do Gerbils Have
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Gerbils are born in litters with multiple pups. A litter can have as many as ten pups, but female gerbils usually give birth to around five to six.[1] 

After the pups are born, gerbils start mating almost immediately again.

Pups from the same litter can be kept together when they grow up as there is less chance of fighting.

At the age of around three months, gerbils start mating, which goes on for the rest of their lives. They are monogamous and usually stick to one partner at a time.

It is difficult to identify when gerbils are pregnant as their bellies do not bulge much. You can observe slight bulging in your gerbil’s midsection if it is pregnant.

What Is the Gestation Period of Gerbils?

The gestation period of gerbils is around 24 days. Gerbils mate quickly, and female gerbils start mating on the same day they give birth. This frequent mating and birthing results in an exponential growth of your gerbil population if left unchecked.

Do Gerbils Eat Their Babies?

Yes, female gerbils sometimes kill and eat their babies, but it is not common. Gerbils eat their babies under the following circumstances:

  • When the mom is too young and does not know how to care for her pups.
  • Constant changes to the environment or constant handling of its babies by people makes mother gerbils develop anxiety and stress, making it kill the babies.
  • If the pups are weak or diseased, mothers kill them to care for the healthier ones.
  • If the mom cannot feed too many babies, it kills them to reduce the litter size.
  • Lack of food and water can make gerbils eat their babies for nutrition.
  • Still-born gerbil pups are eaten by their mothers right after their birth.

Baby Gerbil Development

Baby gerbils are born helpless and rely on their mother for the first three weeks. They are weaned between weeks three and four and become independent after the fifth week of their lives. 

Gerbil babies are extremely small and helpless. They are about an inch long when they are born. They are also blind and furless, leaving them completely dependent on their mothers.

Even though they are born small, they grow quickly, reaching independence after five weeks.

Newborn Gerbil

Newborn Gerbil
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In the first week, the mother gets used to the babies, which is why you should not touch them during this period[2]. Gerbil babies are highly vocal and make lots of squeaking sounds in the first few days of their life.

Pups begin growing their fur in the first week. The mother usually moves its litter around the cage in the first week and huddles them together to keep them warm.

You should not change anything inside the cage during the first week as the mother will get distracted and stop caring for her pups.

She also kicks the father out of the nest in the first few days. He is allowed to come back to the nest later.

One-Week-Old Gerbil

After around 10 days, baby gerbils fully develop their coat. They are still blind at this point but start moving around a little. They use their smell to explore their nest and cage. 

You can try handling the pups at this age, so they get used to picking touched by human hands from an early age.

Gerbil babies are delicate and sensitive, which is why you should handle them with care. Improper handling causes accidents, resulting in injuries and possibly death.

It is easy for baby gerbils to wiggle out of your hands when you hold them and fall to the ground, which is dangerous. Always hold the baby gerbils in both hands to avoid accidents.

Two-Week-Old Gerbil

Two-Week-Old Gerbil

Important changes happen in the third week of baby gerbils’ life. This is when they start opening their eyes. They usually start opening one eye at a time. Some pups open their eyes quickly while others take longer.

During this period, they get used to seeing, and will often see you as a threat. Avoid holding the pups for long periods but keep interacting with them.

Babies start their weaning period during the third week. After relying on their mother’s milk, pups can now start eating other foods in moderation.[3]

Their primary nutrition still comes from their mother, but they can try eating peeled sunflower seeds, pellets, and roasted peanuts.

Pups should also start drinking water. Do not use a large water bowl for them as they can drown. Use a small bottle cap and place it low on the ground.    

Three-Week-Old Gerbil

During the fourth week, baby gerbils start to look more like their parents. Their ears open, and they start listening to sounds for the first time. They also start eating more adult food and rely less and less on their mother’s milk.

Pups also start burrowing and interacting with other gerbils at this stage. 

Continue to interact with them and hold them in your hands. Your baby gerbils should start getting used to your touch by now.

Four-Week-Old Gerbil

Four-Week-Old Gerbil

Gerbil pups are fully weaned after four weeks and can live off of solid foods. They still grow to reach their full size. 

Over the next few weeks, they become mature enough to leave their mother and reach sexual maturity.

Caring for Your Baby Gerbil

You should not care for baby gerbils for the first weeks. Their mother cares for them. In the case of orphan pups, you can start feeding them specialized formula after consulting with a vet.

If your female gerbil has given birth to a litter of pups, you do not need to do anything to care for them. You should only intervene if the mother has rejected the pups or is trying to eat them.

If the mother is unwilling to provide for her babies, you should consult a veterinarian and buy a specialized formula to feed the babies.

While the female gerbil is fully capable of caring for her pups, there are some things you can do to make the process easier.

Maintain the Environment

Do not make any changes to their cage. Doing so can stress the mother and make her abandon her pups. Don’t remove, add, or clean anything in the cage in the first week.

Remove the dad after the first week of birth to avoid further mating. If the mother gerbil becomes pregnant soon after birth, she kills the new babies after they are born to care for the grown babies.

Baby Gerbil Maintaining the Environment
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Look for Malnutrition

Some female gerbils abandon their pups if they are weak or ill. Look for signs of malnutrition in the pups. If you notice a baby looking weaker than its siblings, it’s a sign of rejection. In this case, you need to take care of it.

Some signs of malnutrition include:

  • Slow hair growth
  • Bald patches
  • Small size

You can try removing the healthy pups from the mother and leaving only the weak ones, so the mother gives all her attention to them. 

Put the other siblings back in the cage once the weak pup has fed.

Gerbil Health

Gerbil babies are susceptible to various respiratory and digestive issues. Pups with respiratory issues make a clicking sound when they breathe. 

You should be able to detect the pup with the issue and take it to a vet as soon as possible. Respiratory problems can be fatal if left untreated.

Diarrhea is another common problem with gerbil babies. It is usually caused by E.Coli or Tyzzer’s, which are serious conditions.


Gerbil babies are born after 24 days of gestation and are dependent on their mothers for the first four weeks of their lives. A typical litter contains anywhere from three to nine pups.

For the most part, the mother is responsible for caring for them, but you should take certain measures to ensure the pups grow up in a safe environment. 

Early handling makes the gerbil babies used to human hands and comfortable with being touched.


When Can Baby Gerbils Be Separated From Their Mother?

Baby gerbils can be separated from their mothers after six weeks. They almost become adults and are mature enough to leave the nest. They also leave their mother’s milk and start eating regular gerbil food.

When Do Baby Gerbils Open Their Eyes?

Gerbil babies start opening their eyes in the third week of their life. They open a single eye at a time, and the process takes a few days. By the end of the third week, most baby gerbils have completely opened their eyes.

How Do Gerbils Recognize Their Babies?

Gerbils recognize their babies via their scent. Gerbils have exceptional smelling capabilities. They differentiate between different gerbil groups without seeing them. The smell also helps them recognize their territory and avoid fights with other gerbils.

How to Tell if Your Gerbil Is Pregnant?

There are several hints you can observe to find out if your gerbil is pregnant. Steady weight gain, increased appetite, and slightly bulging midsection are the most obvious signs of pregnancy in gerbils. Pregnant gerbils can also start becoming aggressive and territorial when they approach their due date. 

About Misfit Animals Staff

The Misfit Animals staff consists of animal lovers, pet enthusiasts, veterinarians, zoologists, and other animal experts. Our goal is to provide people with information on proper animal care.

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