Pregnancy and birth
It is not always easy to spot a pregnancy. It is sometimes obvious that the female has become fatter, but in some cases she does not at all. Your gerbil will be just as active during pregnancy as before. She will withdraw discretely for delivery. The newly born young are not yet fully developed. They are naked, deaf, toothless and their eyes are closed. They weight approximately tow grams and three centimeters long. The young are bigger in small litters. The babies are completely helpless in the first stage. They can only squeak when they are hungry or cold, in the hope that their mother will quickly come to help. The first few days after birth are critical. The weak animals usually die during the time. It is advisable to feed the mother extra protein, for example with dry cat food or meal worms. You can judge by heir stomachs whether the young have been feed sufficiently. If it is filled with milk, the stomach looks like a white bean under the abdominal skin.
The first weeks
The father, too, helps with the care of the young, especially when they start to crawl around the nest after approximately ten days. He helps the mother to bring them back. They do this by carefully carrying the young in their mouth. The father also keeps the nest warm. When the young are two to three days old, the ears begin to develop. The first growth of hair become visible a few days later. Gerbils grow quickly. At ten days old, they will try to crawl out of the nest. Their eyes open shortly after the seventeenth day. This is when they also start to try solid food. After about 24 days, they are no longer fed by their mother, but eat solid food. In very exceptional cases, the parents eat their young. They do not do this because they are hungry, but because the young are not viable or already dead. The gerbils follow their instinct and keep the nest clean in this way.