The last of Arbourist‘s classroom gerbils passed away this spring, after a long (for a gerbil) and pampered life. The empty cage made us sad, so Arb’s friend, who manages a pet store, found us a new pair of young gerbils. There may have been a bit of self-interest involved, since she’s been having trouble with her gerbil supplier, and she got us a male and a female. They’ve been very cute and curious and busy. It turns out they’ve been busy with more than renovations.
We didn’t know they’d had babies until Arb picked up their little house while he was cleaning the habitat, and there was a little nest with four babies. They must have been there for a while because they already had fur at that point. They’re like a little Punnett Square: three pale grey like Mom, and one black like Dad, all of them with white markings like Dad’s, although they’re harder to see on the light-coloured ones. Except that it would only work if both parents were heterozygous for that colour locus, and if you look at the phenotypes it’s clear they can’t have the same colour genotype. They do seem to be working on another litter, though, so statistics will continue to be collected.
In the last couple days, even though their eyes aren’t open, the babies have started getting out of the nest and wandering around. Both parents are very busy grabbing babies and stuffing them back into the nest, since they’re outnumbered two to one. They’ve tried to build a wall of fluff to keep the babies in, but it’s not working so well. Lots more pictures after the break.