There are lots of different ways to figure out whether or not your gerbil is pregnant. However, quite a few signs won’t become apparent until the late stages of the pregnancy. Gerbils are excellent at hiding that they are pregnant, and so usually it isn’t obvious until a few days before they are due to give birth.
Although there are a number of different indicators of pregnancy, a lot of them won't be obvious until very late, if they show at all!
- Who has it seen?
Has your female gerbil been around any fertile males recently? Gerbils are able to have babies at a very young age. Male and female gerbils can reproduce at approximately three or four months old - some even earlier, so if your female is around this age and has been in contact with a similarly-aged male then she could be pregnant.
- How much do they weigh?
Gerbils are very good at hiding that they are pregnant, but they can’t disguise their weight gain. If your female gerbil has been in contact with an unneutered male and since that time has gained a lot of weight, she could well be pregnant.
- Shape changes
Some, but not all owners report that their pet gerbils took on a ‘pear-shaped’ appearance when pregnant - this means that the bottom half of their body was much larger than the top portion (their head on shoulders). Try getting a bird’s eye view of your pet and see if she’s gained weight around this area.
If your gerbil has gained a lot of weight and has been in contact with a male recently, then watch out for signs of your pet building a nest. This is usually a good sign that the birth is imminent. Gerbil mothers will collect a lot of bedding material to form a nest, and it’s in this nest that she will give birth to and look after her new pups. It’s extremely important to leave her alone at this time, and to not disturb the nest at all until the pups are at least two weeks old. Any disturbance could be disastrous for the little family - the mother will often get very stressed if disturbed and she may abandon or harm her litter.
Most owners advise that it’s best to remove the fathers from the cage before the female gives birth. This is because she won’t like any disturbance, but also because he could make her pregnant again just a few hours after she has given birth.
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 your gerbils, we strongly advise purchasing a book and learning how to support your pet through the process.