Gerbil Care Guide
Your gerbils will fit great into your life. To keep them happy and healthy, it’s important to understand what to look out for when it comes to their health.
Keeping your gerbils fit and healthy
You should check your gerbils over regularly for any signs they’re feeling unwell. It’s a good idea to weigh your gerbils too. Your gerbils are most active during the evening, so this is the best time to observe how they’re behaving and pick up any signs of ill-health.
Common health problems
Your gerbils’ teeth will grow throughout their lifetime. Overgrown teeth can cause discomfort and stop your gerbil eating. To prevent them from overgrowing, they’ll need plenty of things to gnaw on to keep those teeth ground down. Cardboard, wooden toys or healthy snacks like Excel Gnaw Sticks are all great options! Older gerbils might not gnaw as much as they used to so you might need a vet to clip the teeth safely and painlessly.
Did you know gerbils can catch colds from humans? If you have a cold, don’t handle your gerbils. Their symptoms are similar to ours, like sneezing and a runny nose. If one of your gerbils catches a cold, isolate them from the rest to stop it spreading. Keep the poorly gerbil in a warm room. If the symptoms haven’t cleared in 2 – 3 days, visit your vet.
Tyzzer’s disease is a serious bacterial disease that causes diarrhoea. It can be fatal if left untreated. Other symptoms to watch out for are loss of appetite and tiredness. If you spot any of these signs, take your gerbil to the vet as soon as possible. Tyzzer’s disease is picked up from diseased bedding. To avoid it make sure to keep your gerbils’ housing clean and use good quality bedding. An outbreak can also be caused when something stressful happens, like moving your gerbil to a new environment, so keep an eye on them.
Gerbil health check
If you notice anything unusual about your gerbils, especially a change in behaviour or eating and drinking patterns, it’s best to speak to your vet. You know your gerbils best, so will know when they’re not their usual bright, happy selves.
Behaviour: Happy gerbils are active and playful. Keep an eye on any behaviour changes or if your gerbils are tired more the usual
Bottom: Make sure your gerbil’s bottom is free from discharge or swelling. Staining or stickiness around the bottom can be a sign of diarrhoea or infection. If you see these symptoms, take your gerbil to the vet as soon as possible
Fur: Their coat should be sleek and shiny. Look out for a matted and greasy coat
Mouth and teeth: Most gerbils will happily let you check their teeth for any signs they’re misaligned, chipped or too long. A healthy gerbil’s teeth are yellow, not white. If you notice some sores around your gerbil’s mouth, this could be a sign that their bedding is too rough when they’re burrowing into it
Nails: Gerbil’s nails are continuously growing, just like their teeth. Playing with wooden toys will keep their nails short. You should still check regularly to see they haven’t become overgrown. If they have, your vet can clip your gerbil’s nails safely.
Nose: Your gerbil’s nose should be clean with no discharge. Check there’s no sores around their nose. This can be a sign that their bedding, where they love to burrow, is too rough
Scent gland: A gerbil’s scent gland is a small, bald patch on your gerbil’s underside. They rub this against things to mark them with their scent. Males in particular can be at risk from tumours in the scent gland, so feel gently to see if there are any lumps. Tumours grow very quickly but can be easily removed by a vet if they’re found early
Tail: Check your gerbil’s tail is covered in fur. Hairless patches could be a sign of mites or over-grooming, which happens when they’re bored
Neutering your gerbils
Did you know, female gerbils can produce a little of 4 – 10 baby gerbils every 24 days? Neutering will prevent any unwanted pregnancies. Generally, you should only neuter male gerbils. Not only will this prevent the pitter patter on tiny gerbil feet, but it can also help reduce fighting.
If you do neuter your male gerbil, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them for the first couple of weeks. Make sure they’re not touching the healing stitches and that they’re eating and toileting as normal.
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If you should have any concerns about the health of your pet, always consult a vet.