McCullagh, E. A., McCullagh, P., Klug, A. et al. 2017. Effects of an extended cage-change interval on ammonia levels and reproduction in Mongolian gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus). JAALAS 56(6), 713-717.
Prompted by the cage cleanliness of Mongolian gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus), we evaluated a prolonged cage-change interval. We compared the effects of a 2-wk and 6-wk cage-change schedule on ammonia levels, temperature, humidity, and reproductive performance in breeding pairs housed in IVC. We hypothesized that ammonia levels would remain below our threshold for cage changing and that reproductive performance would not be affected. Although ammonia levels increased over time, they remained low (less than 5 ppm) over the 6-wk period. In addition, the 6-wk cage-change interval did not significantly influence reproductive parameters, such as average pup weaning weight, number of litters, and number of pups per litter. We conclude that an extended cage-change interval (6-wk) can be used for gerbils without significant increases in intracage ammonia levels or effects on reproduction.