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The Day I Became a Dad – for My Gerbils!

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This post was sent to me by a close friend and I thought I’d share it with you guys 🙂

For a young man living on his own in the city, being a father was the last thing on my mind. I just wanted to live a nice life with my two gerbils and get my career on track. However, when I went to the tank a few days ago, I found a surprise.

Six forms appeared where only two should have been! My two gerbils had had babies, and now four little forms were huddled next to their mother. Apparently, gerbils don’t show too much in the way of signs when they are pregnant, which is why I was unprepared.

If taking care of a human baby was far off in the future for me, then taking care of gerbil pups was a little unexpected. Still, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

If I was going to care for some babies, I had to know what the gerbil parents could do and what they needed me for. After reading some books and web articles I found there were three things I had to do.

Consistency

First I needed to keep the environment stable. The two gerbil parents had enough to worry about without me adding or removing things from their home. They needed to focus on their babies, not on where their water bowl was supposed to be. Both mom and dad would be caring for the young, especially during the first week.

I also kept the cage dark during that week, using a blanket to further reduce the gerbil’s stress, and I didn’t handle the babies until they got a little older.

Being a doctor and a nutritionist

I then had to monitor all the gerbils for health issues. This included looking for blobs of throw up and listening for clicking noises that could indicate breathing problems, as well as signs of malnourishment.

I’d seen vets feed baby animals by hand before, but I wasn’t entirely sure I could do it. Thankfully the four pups had gotten nourished, and all were perfectly healthy.

Then at three weeks, I was giving the gerbils solid food (mostly cheerios and gerbil feed) to get them used to eating other things than their mother’s milk. I also added another water bottle to the cage that was gerbil sized, allowing them access to water.

The gerbils weren’t done!

Right as the four baby gerbils were weaned and growing up, the mother gerbil had another litter! Four more babies, so I neutered the father and placed the older gerbils in a separate and larger tank, before doing the entire process over again!

Now I have ten gerbils living in one big tank and, since I didn’t want to separate their family, I’m caring for them all.

Being a gerbil dad has been like being a human father. There has been research, trials, and stress, but when I see all ten gerbils cuddled up together in a fluffy cute pile, I know it’s all been worth it.

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