Gerbils are active little creatures with a fairly sociable nature. Like most small pets of the furry variety, they are also curious, which can sometimes lead to trouble. For the most part, though, they make wonderful pets for children and those living in confined spaces. There are a few things you should be aware of if you’re going to keep gerbils that will help ensure they stay healthy and happy throughout their entire lifespan. Read on for a few tips in connection to keeping and maintaining gerbils as pets.
Gerbils are, for the most part, fairly robust members of the rodent family, but they, too, can suffer from ailments just like the rest of us. One of the things to look out for with these “desert rats” is respiratory infections. If your gerbil is exhibiting signs of a cold, believe it or not it bears monitoring and might even require a trip to the vet. If he or she develops symptoms such as diarrhea or seizures, then don’t put it off. Take them in. Also watch for parasites.
Red Nose in Gerbils
Gerbils can also suffer from nose irritations, which are actually pretty common. Their little sniffers can become chaffed and bloody looking, leading to a sore, red schnoz commonly associated with bedding allergies. It’s easily remedied by changing the material you currently use to a paper-based material. Aspen or corncob bedding can be used, too. For badly irritated snouts apply a small dab of Bag Balm. For secondary bacterial infections, if it’s gone that far, try a twice-daily OTC topical antibiotic.
Make sure and allow your gerbil plenty of opportunities to get exercise. Like most rodents, gerbils love exercise wheels. Get one big enough for them to run with wild abandon, such as a 6- to 8-inch wheel, and/or provide them with a cage ball to roll around. A clean cage with exercise toys can improve their happiness levels and quality of life significantly.
Finally, interact with your gerbil whenever you get the chance. Like mice, they love to scurry all over their owners, scampering up and down outstretched arms, exploring necks and clothing, and sometimes even crawling up onto your head. Once they’re out of their cage you can work on training them using treats such as seeds. Rewarding good behavior is always appreciated, no matter the whos or whats of it all.