Abstract Twenty-seven pairs of Mongolian gerbils ( Meriones unguiculatus) were observed rearing fifty-five litters in undisturbed conditions. Parental activities were performed by both parents. Males spent more time in the nest but females showed more sniffing and licking of pups and nest building. There was no difference between the parents in the amount of body contact with the pups. The frequency of occurrence of each of these activities changed with the age of the pups. These and other measures of behaviour are discussed in relation to the changing stimulation from the young and the willingness of the female to allow the male to interact with the litter.