Gerbils – Common Problems

Gerbils are Healthy Animals

Gerbils are normally very healthy animals and are very resistant to diseases and infections. The first thing to take into consideration is prevention: a safe place for them to live in, water and good quality food must never be absent. Some symptoms that may be a warning are an increase in the time he spends sleeping, loss of weight, more aggressiveness, loss of appetite, bad posture, dirty fur, wheezing or rapid breathing.

The following is a list of the most frequent problems:

  • Falls do not often create problems for gerbils, but if it falls from a  considerable it may suffer from shock. In this case it is recommended that you put the animal in its cage, keep it under observation and call the veterinarian to check it for broken bones.
  • Heat stroke may be fatal. The symptoms are trembling and lethargy. In this case it is recommended that you put the gerbil in a well ventilated quiet place and call the veterinarian.
  • In the event of wounds disinfect the affected area and call the veterinarian. The wounds may be caused by fights but also by the conditions that can be found in the cage. Gerbils will continually gnaw anything it finds in their cages, the repeated rubbing of the muzzle against hard objects such as bars or dividers etc. while they are doing this, may cause annoying lacerations.
  • You may find your gerbil with a damaged tail. There are various causes (including an attempt to pick up the animal by its tail) and, when this happens, there are no remedies. The detached part is formed of skin, which will leave the muscular and boney part of the tail exposed. When this part dries it will fall off. In case of infection call the veterinarian.
  • Stress, fear or surprise may cause convulsions. In this case, immediately place the animal in its den.
  • Teeth that are too long may create serious problems for chewing and their length must be monitored regularly.

Small rodents may also fall victim to the following diseases:

  • Diseases of the respiratory system such as common colds and allergies to the litter material (never use pine or Cedar). Runny noses and sneezing, are signs that something is wrong and a visit to the veterinarian is recommended.
  • Diarrhea may be caused by too many fresh vegetables in their diet and, in this case, the quantity must be drastically reduced. Other causes may be viruses or bacteria and, obviously, you should consult your veterinarian.
  • Mycosis, fleas and mites may infest gerbils. The loss of hair in spots, reddened skin, itching, white dots on in the fur (the eggs of parasites) are the clearest evidence. A vet should be contacted and after handling the animal you must immediately wash your hands.
  • Cysts and cancer may appear in older gerbils. They may appear anywhere, but often afflict the abdominal gland. A swelling may suggest the presence. The solution is surgery.
  • Tyzzer’s Disease is caused by clostridio piliforme, a bacterium that enters the body through the contact between infected feces and mouth, or the presence of its spore in litter. Inside the animal, the bacterium attacks first the intestine, followed by the liver and finally the rest of the body, including the heart. The symptoms are ruffled hair, apathy, depression, very runny diarrhea, residues of feces in the perineal area and loss of appetite. It is deadly when it affects infants or stressed animals.

written by

I'm a (fairly) old Welsh guy who writes about keeping small pets as hobby. I live in the beautiful Italian Alps with my long suffering partner and two very spoiled cats.
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40 Responses to "Gerbils – Common Problems"

  1. Teresa McBroom says:

    What happens when their tail comes off? What do we need to do?

  2. Madeline says:

    i have a gerbil like that

  3. Samellina Ballerina says:

    How old is it?

  4. samantha teamer says:

    Do you know that gerbils can have diarrhea.

  5. samantha teamer says:

    I’m going to buy one so i read this place.

  6. sara brown says:

    My gerbil died because its tail fell of.

  7. camren justin says:

    soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cccccccccccccccccuuuuuuuuuuuuttttttttttttteeeee

  8. hammy hudsan says:

    I love gerbils.

  9. justin russo says:

    I love a good Gerbil.

  10. samantha teamer says:

    I love gerbils too.

  11. cloclo says:

    i’m getting 2 baby girl gerbils i’m nameing them Hazel and Basil i’m getting them this weekend so this really helped thanks!

  12. reyes says:

    im gettin a baby gerbal from my sister cause her gerbal had babies and im naming it tweak cause i like how they make that sound wen there sleepin

  13. Jordan says:

    I”m getting two female gerbils named Uncle Salty and Melody. How often should you clean the cage?

  14. Lexi says:

    Ummm… Jordan, why are you naming a FEMALE gerbil Uncle Salty? I won’t take “She’s white” for an answer! Maybe Aunt Salty, or Momma Salty, maybe even Grandma Salty, but Uncle Salty? Girl, that’s just wrong!

  15. lucy says:

    ive got two girls how do i pic them up without them eskaping

  16. lucy says:

    my two girl gerbils are called jasmin and jamimea can i pu coconut shels in the cage

  17. luquincy says:

    im acherly lucy

  18. bob says:

    ggggggggggggeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbiiiiiiiiiiiiiiillllllllllllllllsssssssssssssss rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrooooooooooooooooccccccccccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. bob says:

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!im lucy tooo

  20. lucy says:

    i am bob and luquincy

  21. lucy says:

    best website ever for gerbils

  22. JAMES R. says:

    since they have a need to chew, can they chew on Maple Branches from local trees? or maple wood I can get from a lumber yard?

    What is best for them to chew on?

    what about mineral blocks for mice, rabbits, etc.?

  23. Kiera says:

    hi i am new here, i am getting gerbils, and yes, they are soo cute! I love them!

  24. Jessie says:

    I’m getting a gerbil soon , I need to know , can you keep them in hamster cages?????

  25. gerbil lover says:

    i am still on my first ever gerbils and they are/were so cute! they are called Cheeseballs and Chips. Chips is a grey agouti and Cheeseballs is a golden agouti. They love/loved me soooooooo much and i loved them too. Sadly, a few days ago Chips die of a lung problem:(

  26. gerbil lover says:

    but, im getting two more soon and im going to call them honey and waffles:)

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