Posted: December 13, 2010, 5 a.m. EST
Q: We have three male gerbils that all got along very well together until one became ill. We had to split him from the others for a week, and although not completely better now, we decided to let them out together as he is no longer contagious and is missing the others. However, they ended up fighting each other and we had to separate them again. Is there anything we can do?
A: Unfortunately, once you separate gerbils for more than a day or so they lose scent memory for each other. You can introduce gerbils one-on-one using a "split cage," which is a tank divided by sturdy wire mesh where the gerbils are swapped between sides frequently. This method is described in detail in the American Gerbil Society’s online care handbook. But, since you have three gerbils this method won't work: it is difficult to get an established clan of two or more to accept another gerbil.
I recommend that you keep your pair together and find a new friend for your single gerbil. Males usually love gerbil pups and take to them right away. So you might decide to get a baby. You could see if the older male gerbil takes to him right away with a direct introduction in a clean tank. Just wear a sturdy glove in case it doesn't work out and you need to do a more gradual introduction. If your male gerbil is older, you might consider introducing him to two babies so they will have each other once he passes. If he is elderly, you also can contact a gerbil breeder via the American Gerbil Society and see about getting him a past-breeding age female. These older gerbil mixed-sex pairs bond well and are very sweet together. Good luck!
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