Tag Archives: nest

How do gerbils take care of their young?

Gerbils are born helpless, blind and hairless and so need the care and attention of their mother from the moment she gives birth to them.

The mother will create a nest for her young pups and then line it with fur from her belly to keep them warm.

A newborn baby pup will instinctively find their way underneath their mother’s warm belly where they will find her nipples that provide them with the nourishing milk that they need.

When a mother is nursing her pups, it is important that the family is not disturbed in any way because any disturbances will distress a nursing mother.

If she is greatly distressed, she may even engage in cannibalistic behavior with some of her young. It has been known before. This will be because of a deficiency in animal protein in her diet.

The pups will be hairless and so will need the continued warmth of the mother for the first few weeks of their lives until hair starts to grow.

Whenever the female leaves the nest, the male may intervene and snuggle up to the young to provide the warmth that they need.

The mother may also provide them with sufficient nesting material to keep them warm without the need of having a parent there in the nest.

When they are born, pups are without hair and will have their eyes closed.

Do not attempt to touch them during this time as they are incredibly sensitive.

Then after about four days, their hair begins to grow and will develop over their body.

It will grow more densely as time goes on.

During the earlier days of their lives, it is easier to determine their sex as there is less fur on their body covering up nipples.

Their eyes will begin to open after about three weeks.

They will then start to explore their surroundings away from the nest.

The mother will keep a close eye on them and bring them back if they happen to stray too far.

They will then start to look for their own food and seek out water themselves.

It is then that they start to gain their first semblance of independence.

It is important to remember that young gerbils become sexually mature at around four months old and so if they are around each other at this age, you may be getting more baby gerbils than you bargained for.

So before they reach this age they need to be separated out, males with males and females with females.

 

References:

Arkive