Split Cage Method
Split cages are used to introduce two gerbil to each other or to introduce a pair of 5-7 week old pups to a single adult of the same sex. If your gerbils have been separated for more then a day, a split cage will be needed to safely reintroduce them to each other.
If your gerbils have previously fought and drawn blood from each other, I strongly recommend separating them permanently and finding new friends for each of them.
Setting Up the Cage
You can use a permanent or temporary split cage. Temporary split cages are easier.
You can use the top half of a wire hamster cage. Do not use the plastic pan, and only use cages that are all wire. If they have a plastic lid that could be dangerous if the gerbils chew it open. You can also use small bird transport cages, but these have wire floors. The advantage of a cage in cage is that the gerbils can sniff each others scent glands and genitals. Only use cages with narrow wire spacing less than 1/2".
Hardware cloth can also be used to divide the cage in half. Hardware cloth can be purchased at most hardware stores it is stored near the chicken wire. The hardware cloth must be as long or slightly longer then the distance between the two opposite corners. It should be bowed. This will prevent the gerbils from moving it out of the corner. The hardware cloth must also go from the bottom of the cage to the top and touch the screen lid. This might mean that the lid doesn't sit flat on the cage, use a heavy book to hold it down.
The cage its self should have shallow bedding. There should be no hides or wheels. You may give them small toys to chew on, but if the gerbils get possessive of the toys they should also be removed. You should still provide some card board and hay for them to chew on. Any cardboard you give them should be too small for them to hide under. A bare cage is ideal.
The object is to mingle the gerbils scents and allow the gerbils to interact with each other in a safe and controlled manner.
Each day they need to be swapped an odd number of times, so that they sleep on different sides of the cage each night. Watch them closely for signs of aggression. It may take a week before they stop marking the cage each time they are moved. Watch for signs of them grooming between the bars, or sleeping next to each other.
Single Adult Male to Single Male Pup(s): 0-3 days
Single Adult Male to Single Young Adult Male: 2-7 days
Single Adult Male to Single Adult Male: 7-14 days
Single Adult Female to Female Pup(s): 2-7 days
Single Adult Female to Single Young Adult Female: 5-14 days
Single Adult Female to Single Adult Female: 14-28 days
Setting Up a Temporary Split Cage
The simplest split cage to setup is to use the top half of a tiny hamster cage. Set the wire cage directly on the bottom aquarium. Then add bedding, food and water.
Using a small ten gallon tank but a piece of 1/4" or 1/2" hardware cloth to fit diagonally across the tank. It should be as tall as the cage and fit snuggly.
Add bedding, two water bottles, and their food. The tank should be plan with shallow bedding. Do not add wheels or hides. You may add small pieces of cardboard for them to chew on but NOT hide under.
How many days does it take to introduce a pair of gerbils to another gerbil(s)?
Gerbils are very territorial and they survive better in groups. A lonely gerbils is far more willing to bond with another lone gerbil. A pair of gerbils have companionship and they defend their territory together. A newcomer is an unwelcome intruder. The pair will not allow the newcomer to stay. They will try to chase the new gerbil off or attack it. It is not safe or recommended to attempt to introduce a pair of gerbils to more gerbils.
How many days does it take to introduce a male and female to each other?
If you are introducing a breeding pair, attempts to introduce them should only be done when the female is in heat. Females tend to go into heat about two days after the start of an introduction. After about 7 days you can attempt to introduce them when the female is not in heat. Females can be intolerant of unwanted advances from males, this is why you should try to do introductions when she is in heat.
What are the signs the the gerbils need more time?
Scent marking, side arching, boxing, tail swishing, forceful sniffing of genitals, mounting(for non breeding pairs), chasing, squeaking.
What the signs that your gerbils are bonding?
Gentle grooming. no scent marking, quickly sniffing the face and walking away.
Intro’s are more successful in the evening. Let the tank go dirty till about 2 days after the introduction is done. This ensures that the tank smells like both of them. If you clean the cage you are starting back at day 1. Gerbils remember each other by smell. So its very important that when you do clean the cage to always leave a handful of bedding behind.
How many days does it take to introduce a new gerbil to a pair of gerbils?