Animals with fur or hair shed to some degree because of the natural life cycle of the fur or hair where the hair follicle gets old and falls off.
Is this the same for gerbils? Do gerbils molt? And if so, when does it happen?
In this dedicated article, we will dive into the topic of molting and answer all these questions.
Do Gerbils Molt?
Gerbil’s molt to shed their baby fur to adult fur that is more protective, water-resistant, sleek, and smooth. This is a natural process of transition from baby to adult fur which is better and offers more protection from environmental elements such as a cold.
Thereafter gerbils molt to change their entire fur coat. Gerbil molting however does not have a seasonal or periodic pattern and occurs periodically throughout their lives.
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What Exactly is Molting?
The periodic loss of fur or outer layer covering of an animal and growth or emergence of a new covering is referred to as molting. This process is common in animals which occurs in response to seasonal changes or hormonal growth phases.
Animals such as mammals and insects shed feathers, hair, fur shells, horns, or exoskeleton.
Gerbils also undergo molting where their old fur falls off and new growth of fur occurs. However, unlike other animals gerbil molting is not triggered by temperature, light exposure, or seasonal changes but occurs periodically throughout their lifetime.
Moulting or molting: What is the difference?
Moulting and molting are different spellings of the same word which have the same meaning. Moulting is British English while molting is American English which both mean the shedding of animals’ outer covering.
Why is Molting Important?
Molting is a process that is important to allow:
- The transition to the next stage of life that is from young, mid-stage to adult
- Animals to get bigger for example insects
- New growth of a better protective outer layer
These all are important in the life cycles of animals. Gerbils molt to replace old fur with new fur that has better qualities for the protection of their skin from environmental elements.
What Happens When A Gerbil Molts?
Generally, gerbils shed their fur every day which is not usually noticeable and very minimal. Their fur cycle lasts 26 to 28 days where the first 10 days the fur actively grows and at the end of the cycle, it is shed.
When a gerbil molts, they shed and change all their old fur to a new coat. There is a complete replacement of the old fur with regrowth of new fur.
But don’t worry, a gerbil will not completely shed their fur all at once and become bald all over their body as molting occurs. Instead, the shedding slowly occurs along their body form and no bald spots are observed as this happens.
The molting begins at the tail area as it moves upwards along their body length towards the head.
You will clearly see a distinct gerbil molt line which is a dark horizontal line on your gerbil’s fur indicating the area where the new fur meets the old fur as the shedding progresses.
The molt line moves towards the top of the head as the molting progresses and disappears when the process ends.
When Does Gerbil Molting Occur?
Gerbil molting is not triggered by seasonal changes, that is, whether it’s winter or summer. The molting occurs when they are young and periodically throughout their lives as adults.
The juvenile molt occurs when a gerbil is young and is around 30 days old. During this period, a young gerbil sheds their baby fur to allow growth of the adult fur.
The adult fur is sleeker and offers more protection against cold and it is also water-resistant.
After the molting or shedding of the first baby hair, some gerbils change color. This is observed especially in the nutmeg gerbil whose fur coat changes from pumpkin orange to a black and brown coat.
After the juvenile molt, a gerbil continues to molt throughout their lives. The time within a year when it happens is not definite and it is not affected by seasonal changes.
The process maintains the good condition of their coat as well as provides a protective layer of fur.
Molting is a natural, painless process in gerbils that is a replacement of old fur with new fur. As a gerbil owner, you may notice when it occurs by the appearance of a molt line.
All you can do at this time is to continue caring for your gerbil by ensuring they feed well to promote fur health and are comfortable.
Replace their bedding at least once a week as the molting process progresses. This will ensure that they have a clean environment to thrive in.