Taking Care of Baby Gerbils

Looking after baby gerbils

There are certain rules about taking care of baby gerbils. They mainly concern keeping them safe. Gerbil parents are perfectly capable of taking very good care of their babies in the initial stages. But you need to be aware and alert to certain things so that you can take adequate and suitable care of the new parents and their babies. Once you know what to look for and what to expect,  you will be able to take better care of the puppies.

Adult gerbils are excellent parents when it comes to taking care of their puppies. The puppies also depend completely on their parents in the first few weeks following their birth.  However, sometimes the parents may require your support.

Baby gerbils are known as puppies because for the first week after their birth, they look like tiny pups. Most litters have 3-9 puppies, but the number varies from one litter to another.

One of the first questions you probably want answered is when can you first hold them?

Most can be held even while they are still very tiny and fragile. You will notice that most parents don’t really bother. But if they get annoyed or aggressive give the parents plenty of other things to do to distract them. Try to interact with the baby gerbils as much as is possible. Be very careful while holding a tiny pup. They are still tiny so make sure there is something very soft for them to land on  if they fall from your grip.

Gerbil babies are normally very healthy but  there are a few  illnesses that they can suffer from. If you see any health problems take them to your vet as soon as possible.

If a gerbil baby develops respiratory problems you will hear clicking noises when it breathes. In this case take the pup to your vet right away so and get it treated. Don’t leave it without treatment or it may die.

A pup with diarrhea may have either Tyzzer’s disease or E.coli. Both are dangerous. But a proper dosage of antibiotics and rehydration will soon sort it out. Also, make sure that the other pups are not infected.

Most importantly, check whether your pup is getting enough milk.  If this is not the case, there will be certain signs: a bald patch on the back, fur not developing and he’ll be undernourished and smaller than others. In this case, put the other pups in a safe and warm place while you allow the affected pup to feed well or give it extra feeding.

About the Author

I'm a (fairly) old Welsh guy who writes about keeping small pets as hobby. I live in the beautiful Italian Alps with my long suffering partner and three very spoiled cats.

50 Comments on "Taking Care of Baby Gerbils"

  1. Hello I just found out I had a female and male gerbil after about a month didn’t know she was pregnant but now we have 6 babies. Do I need to take the daddy out of the cage. People say they eat their young but it seems as though he is helping take care of them. But my main concern is can she get pregnant right away?

  2. jennifer jackson | May 11, 2010 at 2:05 pm |

    someone gave my daughter three gerbils a mother and two little ones on thursday by friday the mother had three babies now today one of the babies is missing should i take the other babies out what could have happened searched the cage nothing need some help

  3. peanut butter filled elephant | June 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm |

    the mom probly got scared and ate the baby and yes always take the dad away from the newborn babys

  4. I’m going to buy “Blacked Eyed Honey”and both of them would be a girls.

  5. Hopefully they won’t fight over everything,and everything I mean: food and where the

  6. wow peanut butter filled elephant weirddddddddddddddddddddd.

  7. hi i have a new gerbil and i had a boy before so now i have 2. how can i mate them and how will i be able to tell if the mother will eat the babys or not. and how can i tell if it is pregnet or not?

  8. Hey
    my gerb had 5 pups and ate 1. now her four are mainly healthy, but shes kinda occupiedby scratching in a corner…. we put her in a room by herself and now shes feeding them. should we do anything more? my mom is out getting kitten replacement milk and a lamp in case.

  9. everybody read this CAREFULLY gerbils do not eat their babies unless they have died it is their natual instinct to keep the cage clean and smell free so predators do not eat them. and also the average litter size is 4-6 pups here is a link read through it. http://www.gerbilbreeding.com/birth.htm a mom may also eat her pups if there is no water she does this so she can get the fluids to feed the rest of the litter. but if you take good care of your gerbils this shoulds not happen

  10. My gerbils just had a baby but only one. The mother doesn’t seem like she is taking care of the baby at all. She steps on it and ignores it. I want the baby to live so I was wondering If it is okay to feed the gerbil with an water or milk from an eye dropper?? please help me.. I don’t think the baby will last long.

  11. Jake first you say they do not eat their babies then you say they will if they have no water
    We have had two litters and the parents are not caring for them they all died twice.Were going to try the next litter to take the dad out of the cage.They do breed right after she has the babies.So trying this she is not bothered by him.

  12. They do no usually eat the babies but if there is no water or the water bottle isn’t working properly the mother will sacrifice one baby to provide for the others, she will also do the same if there is a lack of protein in her diet. You should buy a lamp and shine the light in the cage so they can get warmth if the parents are not interested. You can use human formula or puppy formula to feed the pups with at about double the normal concentration, as gerbil milk is very concentrated. Like human babies, gerbil pups need warm milk, so make sure the milk is the same temperature as the inside of your wrist. When you place a drop there, you shouldn’t be able to feel it. You can put the milk in a small beaker or glass, but test it every once in a while to make sure it stays warm. Use a small eye dropper and while holding a baby in your fingers — somewhat upright so she/he can’t choke — place a drop on the mouth. The milk will take a few seconds to drip into the mouth, but if the baby is hungry, he/she will begin eating as soon as the milk is tasted. It will only take a few mouthfuls for the pup to become full.

    Large litters may need some supplemental feedings to help the mom out. Be aware that sometimes a mother will not have enough milk for a large litter (more than six) and if you don’t give her a hand some of the babies may die. However, in MOST cases, mom does just fine by herself. Don’t interfere unless it is obvious the pups aren’t getting enough. A few feedings a day should be fine. If you are raising a litter completely on your own, you will probably have to feed every hour or two and you might lose quite a few. After you have fed the pup you should wipe the milk away with a bit of tissue or a cloth as it can dry really hard and become very unpleasant for the little one.

  13. I bought a gerbil from the pet store and a few days later she gave birth to 8 puppies and i have another female that i put in a cage with a male gerbil and she is pregnant and when i stick my hand in the cage to hold her she bites me. What does that Mean? and should i take out the male just incase she has her pups?

  14. I had two gerbils. Then i went camping and came home and one of them was very sick.She was a small black gerbil named Bella. So me and my mom toke her to the vet. He gave her some meds and then we went home. The next mornimg I found her dead in the tank. Then I only had one gerbil and I read on some gerbil websites that a gerbil can die of lonelyness. So 4 days after my gerbil turned one. She is a very very sweet gerbil and her name is Rosey. So one her birthday I got her another gerbil. She is a tan and gray gerbil named honey. She is super mean to me! I used the split cage method and at first they fought. One mornimg scared the heck out of me. So when I looked in the cage honey was not in her side! She was in Rosey’s side!!! I found them sleeping cheek to cheek. But one day when i was playing with them in the bathtub(Its their playpen!) I thought honey was a boy. But then i thought it couldnt be. cause a first i thought bella was a boy but she wasnt. Any way a couple days later I saw them Mating! The birth should be between august 7th and august17th. Yesterday I saw her stomach moving twice. her stomach is some what bigger. What do i do now!!!!!??????!!!!!???

  15. Well, first you should take her to the vet and ask if she’s really pregnant, and if so, ask how many babies will she have, the possible date that she will have them, and what to do when they’re born. DON’T seperate the babies from the parents. Unlike hamsters, they are very loving parents and will only eat they’re babies if they sense something wrong with them, or if they feel there isn’t enough food for all of them, and wouldn’t you want the babies to die a short, painless death rather than slowly dying from a painful death of dehidration or starvation? And NEVER touch the babies before they have fur. Then the parents will abandon them, and nobody wants that. They are old enough to leave their family at about 4-5 weeks, when they are weaned. And only call the vet during the birth if you sense a baby is stuck or dead, or if the birthing takes more than an hour. A gerbil gives birth by standing on her hind legs and pulling the babies out of her butt. Happy Birthing!

  16. Poor Bella. 🙁

  17. Can 2 males be in the same enclosure or would they fight to the death?
    what about 2 females?

    I DO NOT want babies!!! not now or ever in the foreseeable future. it’s just not something I want to deal with.

  18. I have two gerbils, Lexi and Katie. I was told they were both girls. I’ve had lexi for 2 years and Katie for 1 year. I noticed katie has gotten very big and looks like she’s making a bigger nest and acting funny. She did get out and was lost for about a week. Is there a possibility shes pregnant? either by lexi ( if shes not a girl) or a mouse if thats possible when she was lost… I am confused, if she has pups should I take lexi out or not? I am hearing many different things..

  19. Katie is also usually very fast and hard to catch while lexi is the more slow one and right now katie is sitting there letting me pet her and lexi is being hard to catch, very fast…

  20. hello i am going to have two gerbils .One girl one boy .i think thir going to have about 6 babies bye

  21. Hi, I have two female gerbils that get along just fine. I seperated them recently because one of them is having pups any day now, but I have the cages right next to each other and I let them visit daily so they still know each other. I was wondering if after the pups are born, if I would still be able to let the mom visit the other one in the other cage for about ten minutes a day just to keep them aquainted and if that would affect the pups in any way…

  22. Just today, I reached into my gerbil cage to grab on of them, and when they ran away, there was a mound of pink on the soft wood chips. At first I thought it was like a heap of insides or something, but then I realized they were moving and they were baby gerbils! I seriously thought I had two male gerbils. My dad was kind of freaked out, but I was very freakied out. I was just like, “What the heck!? How do we take care of like, 5 gerbils!?” Thank you for this site.

  23. Same deal here. We got home. Heard a squeaking sound and my son said “they must be fighting”. I went over to the cage and the mama was squeaking so we thought she was sick. She moved and I thought her organs were out or somethng and it was 4 ugly little pups. I did not them so we made sure the store gave us two boys, so they said. grrrrr. We took the male out. The female did make a nest but it’s right under the wheel. She tends to them then runs on the wheel. Can we move them to a better nest or shouldn’t we touch them? Also, I’ve read that if you seperate the adults longer than 3 days, they no longer know eachothe so how do I make it so they don’t kill eachother? I spose I can keep the cages next to eachother, does that work?

  24. No do not take daddy gerbil out , the father will help keep pups safe and warm while mum eats,drinks and plays.

  25. my gerbil had babies about 5 days ago, i think there are 5 or 6 of them. she had them in the observation globe. she carried them down to the bottom of the cage. she keeps moving them around the cage. i always see 1 all by itself and now she seems to be burying them under fer bedding, is this normal? i dont know what to do????

  26. clare in respose to the august
    12 sounds like my ex-wife lol

  27. My gerbil had 6 babies and eat two so now she has four. Three of the babies are developing normally but the fourth one is very small and like this post say has no fur on its butt. I am just wondering how long to leave the little baby with the mom away from the other babys?

  28. I have Barbie geribals I am scared the is going to eat them

  29. I have three gerbils in the same cage one male and two females.The females both just had babies and there all mixed togather will they raise them even though they mixed the babies up

  30. Belina Dover | June 4, 2013 at 7:51 pm |

    Lucy, you should not be keeping 2 female gerbils together! You are lucky that no injuries have been caused because usually 2 females will fight for dominance. Personally I would separate the 2 girls and split the pups into equal numbers between the 2 moms. You do realize that they will likely be pregnant again? They mate almost always the same day as giving birth. If you don’t want to breed them again remove Dad before the next litter is born. If you keep your gerbs like this, then they could fight to the death for mating rights. So here is what I would do, if you are going to carry on breeding leave one of the females in with the boy. Remove the other female into a separate cage with her pups as soon as it’s possible. Honestly don’t risk it, I know from experience and through other people that have had disasters like this one waiting to happen. I know you may not want to split them up, but you will save yourself a lot of heat ache in the future. I know it means having 2 tanks but it’s a safer option. I am guessing it was your intention to breed or you wouldn’t have gotten a mixed group. I can’t tell you how good it feels when you have helped raised pups, but please think about what your doing in regards of cage mates.

  31. I bought two same sexed gerbils July 10.(Males i was told) One had 4 pups this morning. I checked the sex of the other gerb and it appeared female as well. So now I have a litter of pups and 2 females. So far the other female has had little interest other then smelling the pups. Should I go ahead and serperate them?

  32. My gerbils just had babies and people keep telling me to take the dad out but he takes better care of the babies she will feed the she lays with them at night but he checks on them he keeps them warm 24/7 but he seems to do better than her what should I do

  33. help! I live in independence, mo. I have two newborn gerbils, just born. mother and dad got out and was killed by cats. I need someone with a mother gerbil who will take them in right away. trying to keep them alive. please call me at 816-716-9219. they are very hungry, keeping them warm. trying to feed them, not working very well.

  34. I had two of these little rat things o thought they were both male but then one morning I found a bunch of babies in the tank well those little cock suckers got flushed all the parents did was bite even before the babies came so I took both of them and threw them into a bon fire it was funny as hell to watch them burn don’t get them unless ur using them as snake food or as fuel to the fire

  35. Hi I have a boy and a girl gerbil and they had 5 babies we had to separate the dad cause they kept mating and we don’t want more babies the mom hardly comes out to take a drink or eat she’s always in her house should I be worried or not

  36. beaver you have some really bad problems, i hope someone does the same thing to you 😀

  37. Hi, so we got my nieces gerbils, guy had 2 set ups with 2 gerbils each, he claim never had babies, they were supposingly all girls.. Not even a week later, had 5 babies, like hamsters we heard take male out, so we put male with another female, could he be put back in tank with babies &mom.. Another female keeps making squeeky sound, thought might have babies, but we don’t see babies.. Plz help

  38. Can another female be put in with the mom & babies? Can the baby males be put with other makes or, can they all just stay with their mom.. Will they eventually mate with their mom or sisters

  39. A boy and a girl gerbil can be left in the same cage when you have babies.

  40. My family has two gerbils, one female and one male. The female recently had six babies, so we removed the male from the cage. We only wanted one litter. The female has a house in her cage, where she keeps the babies in her nest. I can’t wait to hold the babies once they grow fur. The only problem is that the mom is very small, we are not sure if she can support six babies. The babies were born last night (The female’s name is Sandy, the male’ name is Coal).

  41. I got 2 boysn 1 fem gavebirth last Night 1st time…I dont kno whos the dad. But the older brother calmer so I’d like to think he’s dad. So during birth I took boys out cage, but i read that dad should stay in,but he’s been out for 12 hours, should I put him back in? Also if I do the lil brother would be alone, is that ok? Would baby brother die alone? Or is it ok to put dad in & out temporarily in both cages? Also its a newborn litter of 5, is it ok to keepem in newspaper bedding like I do the adults?this is my most important question

  42. What if the mom attacts the dad when he is in with the babies cleaning him?

  43. Ok so what u wanna do is take the dad out of the cage for about the first week. Just always every day out the dad in the cage with the mother and babies for about 5 minutes or so. Just make sure to let him visit every day. I have a whole lot of experience in taking care of gerbil babies I have seven of them now now and they are 22 days old and if ur wondering the baby gerbils will open there eyes on about day 19 or 20 of the process. And Farkl the mom will never attack the dad when he’s cleaning them. I hoped this helped

  44. Wow I can’t believe what beaver did btw I am calling the animal control and police for abusing

  45. Yesterday my gerbils look perfectly fine I went to a party and stayed over at my dad’s girlfriend’s house but when I came back this morning I was about to feed my gerbils but I see they had had 6 baby gerbils so I started watching them but mom gerbil(nibbles) didn’t seem to care because she keeps on stepping on them and digging around them so it pushes them around ,what do I do?

  46. Isabella | May 5, 2015 at 7:44 pm |

    I love gerbils do you

  47. I was wondering how many girls you can keep together and how many boys you can keep together and I need to know this before August 21 because that’s when I’m getting my gerbils for my birthday and when I first get them should I take them to vet before I take them home and thanks for taking the time to read my very and only special comment!!

  48. I have a question,
    yesterday my female gave birth to 4 pups and a few minutes ago she seperated 1 gerbil from the rest.She put the 3 gerbils together in one corner and the other one alone in the other corner.She lays on top of the one that is smaller from the others.May you tell me what shes doing?
    Im just a little girl wondering :l

  49. Hello. I have seen many mixed perspectives in these comments. My experience is no, the mother will not on a whim eat her babies. It is not their nature. They will only eat a baby if it has already died, is sick and will not survive, if they do not have access to water, or if their diet is lacking protein. Also, you can (VERY GENTLY) pet the babies a day or two after birth. Handle them every day, but be sure not to stress out the parents. Also if anyone is looking for healthy, registerable, show quality, friendly twin red fox female gerbils, email me at TLC.gerbils@gmail.com. Good Luck Gerbiling!

    Macy H.
    Proud AGS Member

  50. Also, Amy your gerbil seems to be an excellent mother. She seems to have separated what I am guessing is the runt and is feeding it separately in order to keep it nourished and healthy. Great Job! You did something right raising your gerbil! 😀

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