Let's get one thing clear - if you keep the sexes apart, pregant gerbils will not be an issue!
However, if you are breeding gerbils - and that's not something a novice should take lightly - there are different ways of figuring out whether or not they are pregnant. Some of the signs, though, only become apparent in the late stages of the pregnancy. Gerbils are excellent at hiding their pregnancy, going about life in a business-as-usual manner. So the imminent litter isn’t always obvious until a few days before they are due to appear.
Business as usual? It's not always obvious whether or not your gerbil is pregnant
Clues That a Gerbil is Pregnant
Has your female gerbil been around any males lately? If so, it doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to work out what might have taken place... Remember, gerbils are able to have babies at just three or four months old - some even earlier. So, if your female is this young, it's still possible that contact with a male - including an equally young one - has resulted in pregnancy.
How Much Does Your Gerbil Weigh?
Gerbils might be good at hiding their pregnancy, but they can’t disguise weight gain. If your female gerbil has been in contact with an unneutered male and has since gained a lot of weight, then all those things you know about the birds and the bees may indeed have come to pass...
Gerbil Shape Changes
Some pregnant gerbils take on a ‘pear-shaped’ appearance when pregnant - i.e. the bottom half of their body becomes larger than the top bit. Try looking at your pet from above and see if she’s gained weight around the bottom half.
Gerbils exhibit nesting behavior when the birth of a litter is imminent
If your gerbil has gained weight and has been in contact with a male recently, nest building is sure to follow. They leave this to the last minute, so it is a sign that the birth is imminent. Gerbil mothers collect lots of bedding material to form the nest, and it’s here that she will give birth to her pups and nurse them.
Gerbil moms need to be left alone at this time. Do not disturb the nest - not even for a quick peek - until the pups are at least two weeks old. Any disturbance could be disastrous, as the mother can easily become very stressed and may then abandon or even eat her litter.
Remove Male Gerbils From the Cage
Most owners advise removing male gerbils from the enclosure before the female gives birth. This is because she won’t like any disturbance, and also because he could make her pregnant again just a few hours after she has given birth. That will jeopardize her health, and may make her milk supply dry up.
Consult the Vet
We strongly advise that you take your pet to the vet if you suspect that she is pregnant. As well as confirming the pregnancy, your vet can check that everything is proceeding as it should.
If you are thinking of breeding gerbils, we strongly advise getting as much advice as possible, including buying a book on the subject and learning how to support your pet through the process.