If you believe your gerbil might be pregnant, there are a few steps you will want to take to support your pet during her pregnancy. The first step in caring for a pregnant gerbil is providing her with enough food to support her growing litter. You will also want to provide the gerbil with enough materials to nest and get ready for her pups. In the later stages of her pregnancy, handle the gerbil gently, keep her away from foreign smells, and prepare for the birth of the litter.
Before making an additional effort to care for your gerbil, first make sure she is pregnant. Signs of gerbil pregnancy include increased hunger, weight gain and abnormal lumps in the stomach. If your female gerbil has been left alone with a male gerbil, there is a very good chance she is pregnant. Healthy adult gerbils typically conceive after mating only once. If your gerbil is pregnant, expect her to have gerbil babies within 21 to 28 days.
Once you have determined that your gerbil is pregnant, begin supplying her with extra food. Pregnant gerbils should be given additional protein and calcium to support their development. Dry puppy food, kitten food, cooked eggs and chicken are all good sources of protein. To ensure that she has enough calcium, you can also give your pregnant gerbil small amounts of cheese and unsweetened plain yogurt.
During pregnancy, your pet might want to prepare for her gerbil litter by nesting. It is not uncommon for a female gerbil to build and destroy several nests during her pregnancy. Some gerbils also wait to build a nest until the pups are born. In case your gerbil does want to nest, make sure she has the materials to do so. Sawdust, wood shavings, hay and newspaper are all sufficient nesting materials.
In the last days of her pregnancy, check on your gerbil frequently to see whether she has gone into labor. Handle her very gently and make sure she has enough water. You will also want to keep her area free of foreign smells. Foreign smells like new pets or garbage can make a pregnant gerbil act aggressively toward her litter. Not having enough water can also cause a pregnant gerbil to behave abnormally.
While caring for a pregnant gerbil is not usually difficult, it can get a bit more complicated once the litter is born. In most cases, gerbils are attentive parents. Still, you must understand that you might have anywhere from one to eight pups that will need food, adequate shelter and possibly new homes. It is also possible that some of the pups will not survive. Preparing yourself for these possibilities will make it easier to cope once the litter is born.