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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-09-2005, 12:59 PM Thread Starter
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Question New Gerbil, need advice?

My son has gotten a gerbil from a girl at school who could not care for it, her mom said it was ignored most of the time. We brought her home and she seems to like us always comes to greet us when we enter the room and loves her cotton bedding we gave her. I would like to get her a companion of the same sex and need advice on introducing a new gerbil to her. I have a spare cage and thought I could place the new gerbil by her for awhile and then put them together? or should I place them both in a new cage at same time? Any advice would be really appreciated, I'm going to get her some new toys & house and book for me this weekend, should I get her friend too or wait awhile?

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-09-2005, 01:30 PM
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Congratulations on your new gerbil! Gerbils are social creatures and it's great that you want to get her a friend! However, gerbils are also highly territorial so they are tricky to introduce. Females are even more territorial than males, and can fight easily. The correct way of introducing 2 gerbils is the split cage method. What you have to do is get a divider to split the tank in two. This divider should be strong and sturdy enough so that the gerbils can't pass to the other side, yet it has to have holes so that they can see, smell and, to some extent, touch each other. The holes must not be big enough so that the gerbils can grab the other through the division and hurt it, so the best thing to go is with a screen divider. I've heard that many people use a screen lid turned to it's side, but I haven't tried it. What I have is a divider I build with wood and screen mesh that fits just a tiny bit bigger than the tank so it get's stuck and the gerbils can't move it. Here are pictures of my divided tank:

The divider is removable, so I only put it in when I want to introduce 2 gerbs or if I want to keep 2 pairs separated in the same tank. This tank is a 20g long, but you can do the introduction in a ten gallon too.

After you have 1 gerbil in each side, you have to switch them once or twice a day, so their smells mix and they get used to each other smell. Be careful when doing so, use one hand for each gerbil and don't change, or they can bite you cause you have the smell of another gerbil on you. With females, you'll prbably will have to do this for a month or so, as they are a bit stubborn. You'll see signs of friendship when you see them sleeping by each other near the division, trying to groom each other through the division and stop attacking the division. It will be easier for you to introduce a 6 week old pup to an adult, as pups are less territorial (cause they are not sexually mature yet) and adults tend to be less territorial around them, but still do the the split cage!
When you think it's time to put them together, do so in a neutral territory (like an empty cage or bin that none of them have been before, or a bath tub). Wear gloves, in case you have to separate a fight (I've only been bitten by gerbils twice and both times it has been separating fights, the sweetest gerbils, but they are just doing what their instinct tells them to do). I've also read around that a dab of vanilla on their noses and bums helps disguise the smells and makes the introduction easier, I've never tried it, though.
Even though this seems like a lot of work, your gerbil will thank you in the future for getting her a friend. Lonely gerbils tend to get depressed and in general live a shorter life than a gerbil that has a cage mate. Good luck with your new girl!

PS. what's your gerbil's name? Do you have any pictures? 8)

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-09-2005, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the good advise, I will start prepping for new friend, I hate leaving pets solo it seems only natural that they would want someone to spend their days with while we are at school or work.

My son named her Cutie (she is very cute) and I will try to take a pic of her later this afternoon, she wakes up when he comes home from school. She is really friendly with him, I was surprised how quick they got along. I usually study up before adding pets to the family but the other mom said she had to get rid of gerbil ASAP and had it in her car so we took it with us and have been trying to make her comfy in her new home as best we can til we get to pet shop this weekend.

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-09-2005, 01:56 PM
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good luck with Cutie!! that's nice of you to give her a family and a home!!

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-09-2005, 04:35 PM
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Oh, I forgot to add! You can check for more info about them. 8) Or just ask if you have a question! 8)

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-09-2005, 05:43 PM
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I also heard that if u spray vanilla(non-toxic) perfume in the cage, and/or mix vanilla and water and put it on their nose and down their back, they can't smell each other and they get used to eachothers sent as it whares off. I don't know if this really works...

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-09-2005, 07:23 PM
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Good luck. I agree with Padfoot, the split cage method is the best.

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cage mate, pet shop, split cage, split cage method

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