If you are considering of buying a gerbil in a pet store it is good to know if the gerbil you want is a male of female, especially if you are buying more than one. Accidentally buying a male and female gerbil can result in gerbil pups that may be unwanted.
If you want to avoid that, the best way is to get your gerbils from a breeder where everything is under controled conditions or learn how to tell the difference yourself.
When we first bought ourselves gerbils at a pet store, we didn’t know much about them, just the basic stuf. We said to the vet there that we want one male and one female gerbil.
At first it seemded like they were female and male because they were a bit younger and there was not much difference. But after a few months we notices that there still are no gerbil pups, so we researched a bit and found out that the vet gave us two female gerbils.
When telling the difference between a male and female gerbil, at first it a bit harder to tell the difference but with a bit of practise you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
It is easier to tell the difference when gerbils are about 5 weeks or older than at younger age, but if you spend some time looking you will easily know which one is female and which one is a male.
The main difference that you are looking for is the distance between the anus and urinary opening.
Pick up your gerbil gently and turn it so you can clearly see the area beneath their tail if you see a hairless bump (urinary opening) very close the anus then it is a female. If you see the anus and urinary opening about a centimeter further apart, and a heart-shaped sac of skin (scrotum/bulge) which can be hairless or covered in fur (those are the testicles) then it is a male gerbil.
The scent gland will be larger in males than in females, and the alfa male will have the largest scent gland, also the alfa female will have a larger gland than subordinate females.
An adult male gerbil is usally visibly larger than a female, but there are other factors that affect a gerbils size, so it is not an accurate method of telling the difference.
It is harder to tell the difference when gerbils are about a month old or younger, because the anus and urinary opening are a lot closer than in older gerbils. Then you can use the nipples technique.
This technique is best used when pups are about 10 days old. At this age you can handle the pups, but be careful they are very wigly and fast and can easily fall out of your hand.
Before handling the pups it is good to rub your hands through the bedding so you hide your scent a bit.
You will notice eight small dots, 4 on each side of a pups underbelly those are the nipples which indicate a female gerbil. When they get older, fur will cover the nipples and they will be hard to see, unless the female has pups and is feeding them. Males don’t have those dots, but their scent gland will be larger. This method is almost always reliable.