Gerbils reproduce up to three times per year. A gerbil litter usually consists of two to seven pups. Gerbils make squealing noises and thump their feet in excitement when mating.
Reproduction is the natural order of the world. Every single animal species breeds to produce offspring. This is how a species survives.
Gerbils are small rodents that have short lives. This also means they breed fast and exponentially grow in numbers.
Gerbil breeding can be done several times during the year. In the wild, they are mostly mating from February to October.
This article discusses the method of gerbil breeding and gives you tips on how to prepare your gerbil for reproduction.
Gerbils mature quickly and can start breeding from the age of three months. Females mature faster than males and ovulate spontaneously, making mating easier.
As with most rodents, gerbils rapidly grow in numbers. This allows people to breed gerbils fast, producing gerbil babies with favorable traits.
Gerbil babies are called pups, and each litter has around two to seven pups, but it is not uncommon for gerbils to give birth to a single pup.
Gerbils mature fast and are ready to breed at the age of three months. Males usually mature around 90 to 100 days of age. Females mature faster than males and can start breeding at the age of 75 to 90 days.
It is not always safe for females to start breeding at such a young age.
If you have pet gerbils, you should let them reach six months old before breeding them. At the age of six months, most gerbils are fully grown, and their bodies are capable of giving birth to healthy babies.
How Long Are Gerbils Pregnant?
Gerbils have a gestation period of around 24 days. The gestation period is the time between conception and birth. It is difficult to tell when your gerbil is pregnant as there are little to signs.
After around 20 days, you can start to notice a small baby bump. After this, it’s only a matter of days before your gerbil gives birth to a litter of pups.
Pros and Cons of Gerbil Breeding
Too many gerbils cannot live comfortably in a single cage. If you want to breed gerbils, you need to upgrade your cage or buy another one to accommodate offspring. Gerbil breeding allows you to produce desirable pups with selective breeding.
Reproduction is an important part of a gerbil’s life. The species needs to breed to survive.
As for reproduction in captivity, selective breeding is used to produce pups with desirable characteristics.
Before breeding your gerbils, you should know about the pros and cons.
Gerbil Breeding Pros
Some of the advantages of gerbil breeding are:
- You can produce more aesthetic gerbils via selective breeding.
- Gerbil pups are fun to play with.
- Getting a baby gerbil allows you to have pets longer, as gerbils have short lives.
- Gerbils are happy when they get to reproduce, as it is in their nature.
- Prospecting gerbil owners can adopt a gerbil directly from you instead of paying heavy amounts to breeders.
Gerbil Breeding Cons
Some of the disadvantages of gerbil breeding are:
- New gerbils need accommodation, meaning you need to get more cages.
- Female gerbils are ready for mating soon after giving birth leading to exponential growth.
- Some gerbil pups are stillborn, which can be depressing to witness.
- You need to invest more in food, bedding, toys, and other equipment.
How to Breed Gerbils
Gerbil breeding is a long process. It takes about four months from conception to when the gerbils become adults. You need the proper equipment to support the breeding process. Make sure the male and female gerbils have been properly introduced and are not from the same litter.
Gerbils breed several times a year. Female gerbils can give birth to as many as 50 pups in their lifetimes.
But breeding gerbils takes time and patience. You also need to invest time and money into caring for your pregnant gerbil so she gives birth to healthy pups.
Gerbils are great parents and don’t need help. But, there are some things you can do to make the breeding and raising process easier.
Before breeding gerbils, you should have the proper equipment.
Some of the most important gerbil breeding supplies are:
- A big gerbilarium for the parents and the litter.
- A wire mesh to separate the female and male gerbils during the introduction phase.
- Nesting material is made of hay or tissue paper.
- Another water bottle so pups can drink from it when they grow up.
- Extra accommodation for the pups when they grow up to avoid inbreeding.
Introducing the Couple
The first step in breeding gerbils is to introduce the male and female gerbils. Check the gerbils carefully to ensure their sex. Both parents should be healthy and between 6 to 18 months of age.
House the breeding couple separately from the rest of the gerbils. Female gerbils often eat pups from other gerbils due to their protective instincts.
Set up your gerbilarium using a split cage method. Use a wire mesh to separate the male and female gerbils. Each part of the cage should have its own food bowl and other supplies.
After every few hours, you should exchange the places of the male and the female, so they get used to each other’s scent.
You can remove the mesh after a few days.
It is possible that your mating pair will start fighting. Females tend to be more aggressive than males and attack them if they do not want to mate.
Gerbil Mating Behavior
If all goes well and the couple accepts each other as mates, you can expect to see signs of mating. Female gerbils mate every four days. Within the first 2 to 3 days, the female invites the male to mate with her.
Here are common signs of mating:
- Foot thumping
- Raising rear end by the female
- Excited squealing
- Male chasing the female
- Male mounting the female
Pregnant Gerbil Care
Pregnant gerbils have an increased appetite which is why you should increase the amount of food you give to your gerbils. Growing several babies takes a lot of energy and protein.
Here are good foods to give pregnant gerbils:
- Seeds and nuts
- Hard-boiled egg in bite-sized pieces
You should also keep the water bottles full to keep the female gerbil properly hydrated.
Near birth, female gerbils can get aggressive and uncomfortable. You should not handle your gerbil during this period as it can bite you.
Preparing the Gerbilarium for Pups
Prepare the gerbilarium for pups soon after the gerbils mate:
- Place extra nesting material in the gerbilarium so your female gerbil can create a softer nest.
- Remove any heavy toys that can hurt the pups.
- Remove the exercise wheel. Baby gerbils have small feet which can get entangled in the exercise wheel.
- Keep the temperature of the room at around 75-degree Fahrenheit. Adult gerbils can regulate their body temperatures on their own, but the pups have no fur on their bodies to warm them.
Gerbils mate several times every year. The mating period usually lasts from February to October. Gerbils must be introduced before they are put together in a single gerbilarium to mate.
Gerbils give birth to two to seven pups per litter. After successful mating, female gerbils give birth in their nest 24 days later. The young pups are solely dependent on their mother for food and protection for the first six weeks of their lives.
Gerbils breed fast, so you should separate the male and female gerbils to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
How to Tell if My Gerbil Is Pregnant?
Increased appetite and steady weight gain are the two most common signs of a pregnant gerbil. You will also notice a slight bump on the stomach, but it is only visible a few days before the gerbil is going to give birth.
When Should You Remove the Father Gerbil?
Remove the male for the first few days after the female has given birth as she gets used to the pups. Male gerbils are great parents and care for their pups. Put them back inside the cage unless you want to avoid further breeding.
Do Male Gerbils Kill Gerbil Babies?
Yes, male gerbils kill gerbils of rival males. This behavior is rare and is more present in females. Male gerbils can also kill their own pups to put the female in heat again.