Posted: March 13, 2011, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: My son had a pair of male gerbils for about a year and a half. One of them died last night. I read your information on possible friends, and it seems that getting two more baby gerbils is the best solution. However, how big of a cage do they need to have? We have two cages that are connected together with tubes. Will this be enough? When we are first introducing them, should we confine them to one cage? This was my son’s second pair of gerbils. When one died from the first pair, we did not get another one and the second lived for more than a year alone. My son is very affectionate with them and gives them a lot of attention. We just want to do what is best.
A: Sometimes an older male gerbil will take to two young gerbil pups about 5 or 6 weeks old. Wear a pair of thick gloves when you introduce them and watch them carefully. If the adult gerbil goes after the babies, you want to be able to intervene before he hurts them and you don't want to get bit in the process. If he doesn't take to the babies right away, try introducing them in a "split cage" — a 10-gallon aquarium separated in half with a sturdy mesh-wire divider.
When you keep a trio a simpler, one-cage set-up is best, not two cages connected by tubes that could allow them to set up separate territories. A good housing set-up for three gerbils is a 20-gallon aquarium with a wheel hung on the top, a nest box, deep litter for digging and cardboard to chew. If you really like the two cage set-up, try putting the adult gerbil in it with one baby and keep a gerbil pair.
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