This page is based on things I have heard and read but only if the facts are backed up by personal experience or the experience of someone who I trust implicitly. One thing you should probably not do when you're interested in breeding is consulting a book. This could be a gerbil breeder's worst mistake, potentially. Most of the books are largely inaccurate and (contrary to what school librarians will try to tell you) the information on the internet (well on this page at least ;) is in most cases better informed.
Setup: Monogamous pairs
Number of pups per litter: 3-6
Length of (non-nursing) gestation: 24-27 days
Length of (nursing) gestation: 28-50 days
Frequency of litters: every 4-6 weeks
Number of litters per lifetime: 7+
Number of total pups: 30+
Things to consider first:
Do you have goals? Breeding is not, and SHOULD not be, simply about producing lots of furry little wonders. Sure I can certainly understand your wanting that particular byproduct, so I guess what I mean is it is not just a matter of throwing any male or female together and just watching and waiting and seeing what pops up. It is also not about profit. Thoughtful, responsible breeders to not just select mates at random, they decide exactly what they want to breed so that they have focus and order to their plans. Also it is impossible to make a profit off a breeding operation without seriously neglecting the animals, either physically or emotionally. Breeding gerbils need interaction, as do their young that you will be responsible for taming, more than just pets. Therefore having 50+ breeding pairs is clearly out if you want to have a quality program! It is also excessive and unnecessary. If you want to breed, you should plan to keep the pair together FOR LIFE. Gerbils breed monogamously and it's not unheard of for them to waste away and die when separated. So if you think you want to breed, be sure you're ready for the 30-some babies they'll have.
Do you have time? Time is not just a matter of having time to play with pups and clean cages and shop for any necessary equipment, it also includes time for sitting down and carefully laying out your plans. You also may need to spend time searching for the right breeder that has the right colors for you, and finding the right homes for pups. Breeders who set out with the "I will sell them to pet stores" mentality are more often than not rather irresponsible. Selling gerbils to pet stores, although sometimes necessary, is in essence leaving your responsibility to someone else. It is rather like breeding a litter of puppies and dropping them off at the local shelter. An honest effort should be made at finding homes for the pups should be made on your part, and, if unsuccessful, then the pet store, if it is good quality, is a reasonable alternative. But it should be a last resort, not an easy way out. Also bear in mind some pet stores breed their own gerbils, whether intentionally or because they fail to separate sexes, so they may be too overstocked to take your pups, leaving you with lots of babies.
Do you have money? Unless you are charging $30 per gerbil, you will not make any money off of breeding gerbils. Indeed often you lose quite a lot. Initial investments include the founding pair(s), the aquarium and other equipment associated with a gerbil home, and then regular expenses such as food and bedding. So be prepared for the fact that gerbil breeding is a hobby, and one that you will likely spend a fair bit of money in and only gain a little back.
How To Begin
Now that (I hope) you have carefully considered the pros and cons of breeding, you're ready to start out your first pair = ) I recommend starting with one pair, and progressing SLOWLY from there. If you start out with too many pairs you might easily become overwhelmed with pups and you won't have enough of a reputation (meaning, not enough people would know you existed & were breeding) to place them all. Thus you can quickly get in over your head which is not only stressful it's also very discouraging, and is getting off on the wrong foot. So its best to test the waters with a pair or two first before launching into 5 or 6 breeding pairs. Of course, it's really at your discretion.
Another recommendation of mine is to become familiar with gerbil genetics. Many breeders get along okay without knowing this or having a complete understanding of them, but it does help if you will take the time to learn. It's really a lot less complicated than it seems (*says the self-taught 15 year old*). I think a lot of people are simply daunted by all the "alphabet soup". If you'd like to learn about them, take a look at my color spectrum page for the genetics of individual colors and my Gerbil Owner's Guide To Genetics which explains a bit of inheritence. But if you're still baffled, there is a gerbil genetics calculator available for those who use PCs that you can download of the 'net. You will find a link to the page on the genetics guide page. It was created by Joerg Eberbeck and is downloadable from his page.
Why learn genetics? It's simple. How would you like it if you got beautiful pairs of gerbils, and were so sure that you would get the most gorgeous offspring . . . and all you get is just ONE color from ALL of them (agouti, for example). It could happen, if you do not take genetics into consideration. If it's a particuarly nice color, well then fine, but variety is always fun to have and also gives pups a better chance at finding homes.
Now . . . you have to decide what you want to breed. Some people pick a particular color (or more often, colors) they're interested in trying for. Others just want to breed their pets to get more nice cuties. Either one is good, as long as the gerbils involved are in good health. Coat color is really a luxury but it makes the pets all the more appealing to prospective adopters! You also have to decide if you will go for whatever colors and gerbs are available in your area at local pet stores or (better) a breeder if that's possible, or if you're willing to pay $20-30 to have a pair or just a single gerb shipped from out of state to get some of the newer colors. That decided... it's time to pick your pair! ;)
Picking A Pair
The best place to get a pair is from a breeder. You can check my breeder listing to find one near you, or you could have some shipped from someone who ships. If you live near Delaware (or are wanting some shipped) see my adoption page to see what I presently have available. If a breeder can't be found near you, and you can't see spending $20 to get a gerbil or two, then a pet store (if it's well maintained) is the natural option.
Make sure the pair is in good health and, if they're siblings, aren't too inbred. "too" inbred is about 3 generations. After 3 generations of inbreeding (brother to sister or parent to child breedings) you're running a high risk of some unwanted genetic traits popping up. If you find two you really like, but they're 2 generations inbred, then that's okay, as long as you never sell any of their pups as breeding pairs.
By now you might be thinking: Do I have to have a breeding PAIR? Some people, especially those who have read gerbil books or have bred mice int he past, wonder if you can't keep a harem (multiple females with one male) and breed that way. The smart answer? NO. Some people have done this with success but more often the other females will fight with each other, steal and/or kill babies, or only one might breed. I imagine you don't want to find out the hard way which path your gerbils will choose. You also might wonder if you can't have a colony set up, with a couple males and a couple females. Again, no, because fights over breeding and territory rights (especially amongst females) are very likely to occur, as would cannibalism of litters. Also, you would likely need a large tank to keep them comfortably in. This might confuse you, because "don't gerbils breed in colonies in the wild?"
Well, yes they do. But, only one female will breed. The other females in the colony are all her daughters from previous litters, that do not become sexually mature until 6 months old because their mother surpresses their growth. Once they do become mature enough to breed, one of two things will happen. 1. the mother will chase the female off, which in captivity isn't possible so the female will likely be injured or perhaps killed; or 2. the young female will chase off (kill, in captivity) her mother in order to be dominant. And also remember that in the wild gerbils live to at most 8-12 months of age so we probably don't want to mimick their natural environment too closely!
Now, if for some reason you want 2 or more males in with a female, that will work. They might fight, but it's not as certain as with multiple females. All the males will breed the female. So, you will never know who the father of a given litter is, which is why I don't favor this setup.
One other option is the technique commonly used with rats. You take a male, place him with a female in heat, and let them breed. Good idea or bad idea? In my opinion, bad idea, because it creates lots of problems. First of all it's been my observation that it can take months of living together for a pair to get around to breeding. Thus, it's not terribly practical. Also, the mother would be forced to raise her litter on her own which is quite stressful (she could not have any other female cagemates because they would likely try to steal her young). Not to mention that many females (In heat or not) will not accept new company without a split tank introduction which takes 7 days. And after all that getting used to their mate, wouldn't it be hard on the female to separate them just hours after mating? Gerbils are social. They breed best in monogamous pairs so unless you are fond of headaches, I would stick to that ;)
A breeding pair (as with any pair of gerbils) will require at least a 10 gallon tank to breed in. More space is, of course, always welcome ;) I recommend you stick to aquariums rather than cages or plastic Habitrail-type setups for a couple of reasons. First of all a cage is likely to be drafty, which might harm pups that are born when it's chilly out. Also there is a chance they could be kicked out of the bars or otherwise hurt on them. As for the plastic habitats, these I've found make it difficult to get ahold of the young pups, therefore making them harder to tame, but if you're already using one it will probably do.
I would also like to warn people about the dangers of pine and cedar bedding. Cedar is bad for ALL gerbils, regardless of age, but my own experiences have led me to believe that pine is also largely responsible for respiratory problems (fatal) in young pups. Read my pine article for more info.
When you're breeding (or owning gerbils for that matter) there are some basic things you ought to have around. You'll want at least polysporin or neosporin (a topical antibiotic) for sore noses and cuts, and tetracyclene (available from your vet in Europe, and sold as Ornacyclene for birds in the US) for respiratory problems or to prevent infection. I would also recommend, just to keep things neat, getting a couple of shelves. This is nice if you have 2 or 3 tanks and then miscellaneous things (such as food "bins" and bags of bedding) regarding gerbils all in one room. The best shelves, IMO, are called "5 tiered basic shelving units" that you can find at WalMart or Bed, Bath, & Beyond and other home warehouse stores. They're cheap ($20 for 5 levels of shelves), lightweight, easy to construct, and the perfect size for 10 gallon tanks.
I wouldn't use commercial bedding (such as "Sleep Stuff", etc.) because it is quite possible that a baby will get tangled up in the fibers and die, or else have its limbs badly severed. Sorry to be so graphic but it's true. The same goes for cloth. Just give gerbils tissues if you want them to have a soft nest. Cardboard also works.
Once you have the 2 gerbils, they need to be living together. Maybe you got ahold of 2 that are already together (whether they're littermates, or were just put together at a young age) or maybe you didn't. If you didn't, you'll have to introduce them. Two gerbils between 5-8 weeks of age will likely get along without any special introduction. Just put them in a tank together and keep an eye on them. Some scuffling may occur but unless they get hurt don't separate them. Now if you have 2 adults, or one adult and a young pup, you'll want to employ more cautious methods.
The split tank method is the generally recommended form of introduction. What it involves is this. Take a 10 gallon aquarium, and put a metal grid or screen through the middle of it, to "split" it. Put food and water on both sides, and a gerbil on each side (make sure they can't escape!). Then, switch the gerbils from side to side twice every day for a week (or two; depending on whether or not you think the introduction is going favorably. If they show aggression through the screen at each other, then go for the 2 weeks). Once that is done you have two options. 1. simply remove the divider and watch what happens, or 2. put them in a neutral territory and watch what happens. I personally have done a little bit of both and I have had few introductions fail. However some people insist that the neutral territory ruins the intro (I don't agree with that, though, because it doesn't make sense). So that's up to you.
In any case, watch the couple for 3-4 hours after placing them in their tank together. Be prepared to break up a fight if one should occur. Expect a little bit of scuffling, and lots of grooming, perhaps some chasing, but there shouldn't be any behavior that could injure the gerbils. If they do fight (they'll roll up in a ball and try to kill each other) separate them and put them back in the split tank for another week or two and try again. By the 3rd try, if they haven't gotten along, they aren't going to. But usually all goes well and you have your new pair = )
It should be mentioned that this method DOES NOT work for introducing established groups. It can be employed when introducing male to female, female to female, male to male, but you CANNOT introduce a group or pair to any group or individual gerbil. Introductions only work on a one-on-one basis. This is because introducing a newcomer into an established pair or group, no matter the method, will disrupt the "chain of command" and chaos and fighting will likely ensue. The only exception is a pair of 5-8 week old males to a lone male. That usually works out.
Now that they're together....
Once your pair is together, you just have to wait. Breeding takes a lot of patience. Maybe the pair will mate the week after they're together. But, maybe it will take months. By now I'm sure you can see why the "in and out" breeding technique (ie using stud males only to breed the female & then separating them) would not be terribly successful! ;)
Female gerbils go into heat every 4-6 days, in the evening, so that is when mating will occur. Gerbils are sexually mature at 8-12 weeks old but they won't necessarily start breeding then. Young females who are placed with mature males often come into heat sooner (at 7-8 weeks instead of 10 or so). Typically, a female is never "too young" to breed because she won't breed until she is capable of giving birth without ill effects. There are sometimes exceptions, though, but there's no real reason to wait to pair a female up until she is older.
If the pregnancy is successful you will usually notice some swelling by the 18th day. There are exceptions, like if the litter is very small. Some females are already very large and plump by day 18, others are barely noticable. This isn't necessarily a sign of litter size, as some can stay quite small and have large litters while others balloon with only 3. It's largely an individual thing. By day 23-25 they are very "pear shaped" and will be obviously pregnant.
Once a pair mates, you can expect the litter to be born 25-27 days later. They're almost always on time. Sometimes they'll mate a week or two later, though, if the pregnancy didn't take. Sometimes it will take a number of "practice tries" before the female gets pregnant, so don't be discouraged. When the babies are born (which usually happens in the early, early morning although births at all times of the day are possible) you do NOT have to remove the male. He makes a perfect daddy and helps mom out with the pups. Some dads even make better "moms" than the females do! ;)
Babies usually arrive in the early morning hours although they can be born any time of the day. After each baby the mom will eat the afterbirth (placenta) so if you happen to witness the event, to not become alarmed if you see her eating something. The male usually retreats during the first 24-72 hours of the litter's life, but will eventually be welcomed back into the nest. The mom will go into heat usually the evening after the birth. This is normal, and it will not distract her from her maternal duties. She and the male will mate, and in between she will tend to the babies. The embryos for the next litter will not implant until the current litter is several weeks old so don't worry that the mother will get exhausted.
The babies are born deaf, blind, and hairless. If you check out any of my litters you can watch the development of babies day-by-day. If you want to know if mom is feeding them or not, wait a couple hours after the birth and then peek at the babies. Fed babies will have a white substance (milk) in their bellies that you can see through their skin. When they're born you can immediately tell what color their eyes are. Black eyed colors will have dark eye splotches, and pink eyes will have no visible splotches. In a day or two, dark furred colors such as agouti and black will have darkly pigmented skin, and pink eyed colors will be bright pink still. If you have a pup with bright pink skin, dark eyes, and dark points of skin resembling a siamese pattern, you have an ee or e(f)e(f) pup (dark eyed honey, nutmeg, schimmel, or champagne).
The first question that will probably come to mind is "When can I hold them?" Many people think you can't hold gerbils until their eyes are open or else the mom will eat them. Not true. (although I learned firsthand at school, that this IS true with hamsters...) If your gerbil mom is comfortable with your presence (as almost any properly looked after pet gerbil will be) she will likely not mind at all. At school I cleaned the cage of a mother gerbil (who wasn't very familiar with me at all and had only been at school about 2 weeks) and her 8 two day old babies and nothing bad came of it.
Of course, until they have hair there's not much reason to touch them anyway. But if you need to move a pup because it's too far from the nest, etc. then you'll want to know. You should probably wait a week to clean the cage, unless it's absolutely necessary, just because the mom's don't like having their nests destroyed and will spend a good 45min reconstructing it while her babies grow chilly. But if you absolutely must, try to conserve a good portion of the nest so the babies have something to snuggle in.
Mom usually builds a big nest for the pups, especially in the cold winter months. This nest can move every now and then, sometimes every day. If you notice that a new mother keeps moving her pups all over the place this might be a sign that you're bothering her and should put her someplace quiet for a while. But usually a mother moves her nest according to where she is comfortable at a particular point in time. The parents will often bury their pups, especially when it's chilly, and if none of them are on the nest. Sometimes one parent will bury the other, or themselves, so they can keep warm along with the babies.
Babies have their ears opened at about 3 or 4 days old. By day 4, if you have any ee or e(f)e(f) animals they will be quite obvious because of their siamese pattern. The contrast between dark eyed and pink eyed will also be very obvious. By about day 10, the babies should have a fine coat of fur all over their bodies. Usually by then you can tell for sure what color they are, although there are exceptions. At this age they begin bumbling out of the nest if given the opportunity, and are much more active. You must be very cautious holding the little ones, because they can startled and jerk out of your hands at a moment's notice, and you could kill them if they fall too far. So it is best to hold them in their aquarium, or over a bed.
Also, around 10 days you can tell the gender by the "dot method". If you flip the babies over on their backs, you will notice that some have little dimples on their bellies and some do not (this is assuming you have some males and some females in the litter). The ones with "dimples" (nipples) are girls, the ones without are boys. Boys also have a larger scent gland patch on their belly than females. This method will only work up until the time their eyes open, because then there will be too much fur.
It's very important to start handling and taming the pups from an early age. After they're 6 or 7 days old I take the babies out of the tank and put them into a little plastic bin with a cloth on the bottom for about 5-10 minutes. I examine them carefully to determine gender (when they're old enough) and fur color and make sure nothing is wrong with them. Also once they're 10 days old and bumble around a bit more, I let them crawl on my hands. It's very important to pick them up and hold them and "pet" their fur with your fingers, to get them used to being played with by humans.
Around day 16-21, the eyes start to pop open. Some babies take longer than their siblings. At this age they start to nibble on food, but don't take this as a sign that they're ready to be weaned! While they could possibly survive after 3 weeks of age, on their own, it is absolutely unnecessary to wean them at such a young age, when they lack socialization and could succumb to "childhood illnesses" without access to their mother's milk and antibodies. Babies shouldn't be removed from their mother until they're at least 5 weeks old (although there are exceptions--see "What could go wrong?" below).
You don't really have to remove the pups until they're 8 weeks old, when it would get somewhat crowded in the tank, but usually you'd take them out at about 6 weeks. You can keep them all in a communal tank, and put them with other litters if the newcomers are between 5-8 weeks old. Sometimes there is scuffling when new pups are placed together, but it's usually harmless. Of course if someone drew blood, you would separate some of them. At 5 or 6 weeks it's generally very easy to tell the gender by the "traditional" method as described on the NGS page.
By 8-10 weeks of age it's a good idea to separate the sexes. Mating usually doesn't occur among pups until 10 weeks old but it's kind of silly to take the chance. If you want to breed the pups, separate them into whatever pairings you've decided on, and the others may go their new homes.
What might go wrong?
Sometimes unforeseen circumstances pop up. Here is what you can do in some of them.
Neglect or cannibalism of a litter
Sometimes first time mothers will neglect their first litter, but this isn't often the case. It also can take them a few hours to settle in. So wait til the pups are several hours old and check their tummies for milk before deciding to foster. Small litters of 1 or 2 are especially prone to abandonment but this isn't always the case. As for cannibalism, you first want to be sure you're not overreacting. Sometimes new gerbil breeders mistake a mom or dad eating a dead pup for cannibalism. Unless you see them tackle the live pup and consume it, don't assume she killed it because that will probably do more harm than good. If you did see the act, or a mom has repeatedly eaten her young after several litters, then you have two options. 1. foster them - which is by far the most favorable. If you have another mother with babies born within a day to a week or two of the pups, you may be able to give them to her. Just take mom and dad out of the tank, rub each pup in their soiled bedding, and bury it amongst the other siblings. A gerbil mom can probably handle up to about 10 pups. Most mothers will take to new young pups but this isn't always the case. I have had mothers kill other mother's pups even when they're rubbed on and buried. However if circumstances are that dire, the pup would have died if left with its original mother anyway. Option 2, you could try to hand feed them yourself. This will probably not be successful. You can try feeding them KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) from the pet store. But hand-rearing baby rodents is very rarely successful if they're newborn. You'll need to keep them warm under a heat lamp (NEVER put them directly on a heating pad or they may get burned, even on "low"), or if mom just isn't feeding them, dad might keep them warm enough between feedings. Also you'll need to feed them every 2 hours, including in the middle of the night!
If a mother gerbil eats or doesn't feed a litter, give her one or two more chances. Sometimes first-time mothers don't know what to do, and sometimes they eat their babies, or don't know how to feed them. They may learn next time. But if this behavior continues, separate the pair and do not breed this female.
Small litters (1 or 2)
Again, if you have the opportunity to foster, do so. Several of my females have successfully raised litters of 2, but I have never had a litter of one survive. If you have a litter of 2, and one pup dies, that isn't a good sign. In that case you should definitely try to foster the remaining pup. If you can't, hope for the best, or try to hand feed it (as I described above).
Runts usually do just fine. They catch up to their siblings eventually, and can go about a normal life. So just let mom do the best she can. You might want to help her out by giving the pup a little extra supplementation with rodent milk replacer (or kitten milk replacer if you can't find any of this) to give a runt a kickstart.
Death early in life (1-3 days)
Sometimes very young pups die, for reasons we may never know. Usually mom or dad will bury the body or sometimes eat it. Don't be alarmed, they're trying to keep their "burrow" clean. If mysterious deaths continue, though, you may have a cannibalism situation going on (see above).
Sometimes it takes up to 24 days for the eyes to open. Usually it's 17-21 but not always. But if after day 24 they're still tightly shut, try wiping an eye gently with a damp tissue. Be gentle! Sometimes they get "stuck". Also every now and then, you might have a blind pup born. This is sometimes a fluke but if this happens more than once or twice there's probably something wrong with the pair and they should be separated.
Respiratory problems ("clicking", fluffy fur, chilly)
Around 3-5 weeks old, gerbil pups sometimes get respiratory problems. I've been told this is common for this age but I as of 12/30/98 I haven't had any in the past year of breeding, when I've been using aspen. I suspect this is tied to the use of pine bedding (see my pine article). But at any rate, if you get a sick pup you should 1. change to aspen, carefresh, corncob, or plain paper and 2. get Ornacyclene (tetracyclene) from a pet store and put it in the family's water. It may not save that pup but it will prevent the others from succumbing. You can also try to get some tetracyclene-water into the pups mouth with a needleless syringe (like you would use to hand feed) but you have to be careful you don't choke the pup. It's not really infectious, but if you're using something that is aggravating the respiratory problems then all the other babies have been exposed as well. Their weak immune systems can't handle the fumes, but the parents can (it's still not too great for them, though).
I have also noticed that litters raised on pine have a high mortality rate of young pups sometimes as well, or an unusually high number of runts. Depending on the brand of pine you use you could lose anywhere from no pups to entire litters. It's just better not to use it than to play Russian roulette.
3wk+ pups being chased off
Sometimes mothers (especially first time ones) will get sick of their babies and will start to chase them off. This usually occurs after the 3 weeks mark so if you see her chasing a pup and acting like she's trying to hurt it, it's a good idea to remove the entire litter. Put them in with 5 or 6 week old pups if you have any (in a cage without the adults of course!) so they can snuggle up with somebody, or else put them in a tank with a lot of bedding and make sure they stay warm. Also make sure they're eating okay and everything. Usually after 21 days they can adjust to living on their own, if they HAVE to.
If a mom does this once, don't despair. Sometimes first time moms just don't realize motherhood is a 5 week long job. They usually do better with their next litter. Sometimes established moms do this too, I don't know why, but usually they're okay afterwards too. Probably just had a bad week ;) But as with all forms of gerbil child abuse, if they do it more than twice, you shouldn't breed them.
The birth defects I'm aware of aren't too severe. I have seen fixed wrists (one of the paws is bent so that it's largely immovable. This is harmless and the babies will make good pets. I don't know if it's genetic or not, from what I've seen it's not, but you probably wouldn't want to breed such a gerbil anyway. Also I've seen something I call "squint eye" where their eyes look slightly odd. One looks like it's squinting or is a little smaller than the other. This, too, is harmless and probably not genetic but you never know. Sometimes baby gerbils end up being blind. This can be harmless but it also might be a sign of more severe problems and the gerbil may eventually die. If you notice a baby missing limbs or with half a tail, this could be either a birth defect or just an injury as a young pup. If these pop up more than once or twice I would separate the pair because there is obviously something wrong.
The Future Litters
After her first litter is born, assuming they mated right after the arrival of the first batch of pups, you will have another litter usually within 7 weeks (typically after about 5 weeks). Gerbils naturally pace themselves so that they do not get worn out. In general they will not have more litters than they can handle. Sometimes they will have a few litters, and then rest for a few weeks or even months, and then resume breeding. This is especially true of older pairs.
Gerbils have about 7 litters in their lifetime, but I have heard of up to 20-something. They generally start smallish, and then get to their peak about 12 months of age when they have litters of 6 and 7. Then as they get towards 1.5 years old, the litters will get smaller and less frequent, until eventually they'll stop. However I have had 4 month olds have litters of 7 and 2 yr olds have litters of 6 so this is not set in stone.
It is possible to leave a litter in with mom & dad and their younger siblings for a little while. They will help raise the next litter and usually there is no trouble.
Homing The Pups
Now that your litter is grown, you need to find the pups homes! Your first stop should NOT be the pet shop. First there are a few things you should try out. First of all, talk to friends and family (if you think they're trustworthy with a pet). They might be interested in a pair of pups. Then, you can start making flyers and posting them on local bulliten boards, at schools or your office, at grocery stores, libraries, etc. Some pet stores that only sell supplies also might not mind letting you post a litter announcement. Vets as well. You can also place a classified ad in newspapers, I'm told this work very well.
Once the local resources are exhausted you might have to go "national" (as most hobby breeders who have bred for a length of time or have several pairs usually do) and begin to ship. If you want details on that, please email me and I can tell you how it must be done in order to be safe for your pups. To get attention you can post notices on bulliten boards on the internet (this is also useful locally if you can find a local bboard), newsgroups, mailing lists, etc. Run a web search on "pet classifieds" or "classifieds" and you may find places where you can post what you have available. AOL has a bulliten board for rat/mouse/hamster/gerbils looking for homes. If you want to start a website, check out Geocities (free homepages) or talk to your internet provider about webpages. If you need help (especially with respect to graphics ;) you can email me, I'm usually happy to help.
Okay... so you did all that, but maybe you still have some pups left over, and your mother is getting mad at you, and you're running out of space, and you're absolutely panicking, and no one will take these pups... well, there's always the pet store. IF the pet store takes EXTREMELY good care of its animals and you trust them to do right by your pups, then you can consider giving them a few pups. But, don't make a habit of it. Always put a lot of work into finding homes for your pups yourself before giving up. If you find yourself giving several entire litters to pet stores, one after another, then it might be best to consider not breeding. Breeding is fun, but not everyone is cut out for it.
Oh and by the way. Whenever you place pups, ALWAYS sell in pairs, unless they have another gerbil in mind to pair it up with. If this is the case, make sure they know how to safely introduce them. I recommend making a care sheet up with vital information, so they have something to reference. Always give them your phone number so they can consult you if need be. And as the breeder you have a responsibility to take back any babies that can no longer be cared for for one reason or another.
It's very important to keep good records. You can keep them in a notebook, on a calendar, or in a database on your computer. I keep a database of the following things:
2. Every pup I have ever raised - their name, date of birth, parents (or litter they were born in), color, genetics, breeding or non, if breeding who they're paired to, who they belong to now, when they died (if they did) and why.
3. A table of all my pairs - their names, their genetics, what color pups they've had, average survival rate, what age they were when they had their first litter, most recent litter, most recent mating.
4. A table for each of my pairs - the litter #, the number of pups, date of birth, colors, gestation period, survival rate.
5. (this is really optional but I keep one anyway) Database of all pairs descended of mine but not belonging to me any longer - their names, colors, genetics, who they're related to and how, what colors they've had (and how many), the DOB and # of pups in each litter. This might sound silly to include, but I find it's really helpful to see how the genes are passed down in the family and you can check out the pups of your pups, and say "oh look it looks as if Fluffy or Muffy carried e because their son had a Dark eyed honey pup..."
6. Adopters - their name, address, phone #, email address (where appl.), what pup(s) they have, and any comments (like "they have a website").
7. Pedigrees - I found an awesome way to make pedigrees out of forms in MS Access. Just make all the appropriate fields in a database table, and then go to form wizard. Then alter the design by clicking "design" after you make the form in wizard, and moving the boxes around to form a "pedigree". BTW make sure it works out properly!
As you can see I keep extremely exhuastive records ;) I would recommend you include at least the first 2 things, plus the adoptors table, so you can tell people about their gerbils' parentage, and their date of birth.
Well good luck with your breeding endeavor! ;)
Anything I didn't cover? Don't hesitate to ask me.