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Gerbil Diseases, Ailments

Gerbils are usually quite healthy and do not need much medical care in most cases.

In the rare cases that they do need medical attention, gerbil health care is quite inexpensive and most veterinarians charge only a nominal fee for a consultation. The most common of all pet gerbil illnesses is a sore nose. The results when gerbils rub their noses continuously against the wires of their cages. An allergy to wood dust that leads to infection can also be the reason for a sore nose.

This condition is usually treated through the application of an ointment on the nose of the gerbil. Application may become difficult and some assistance may be required.  You can also apply the ointment by taking the animal by the scruff of his neck and keeping him still while you apply.

Missing teeth is another common gerbil ailment. This results from insufficient calcium intake, inadequate exposure to sunlight, infection or genetic weakness.

Weight loss in gerbils could be a sign of teeth problems as they are unable to chew food properly. When there is a loss of one tooth in a gerbil, the veterinarian needs to cut down the remaining teeth after every 2 to 3 weeks. The owner can also do this after receiving proper instructions from the vet. If there is loss of the front teeth, the food has to be ground into small pieces. Some foods that may be given to gerbils with missing teeth include shelled sunflower seeds, soft fruit and porridge oats.  

Another type of gerbil disease is scent gland tumors. This is characterized by a redness and swelling on the bald patch of the gerbil’s stomach. This is where the gland is located. External tumors can be bothersome for the gerbil as they tend to scratch it a lot. These can be removed by the veterinarian. Gerbils are also prone to liver failure and the best way to prevent this is to give the gerbil a balanced diet and fresh water. If your gerbil suffers from middle ear infections, and displays disorientation, take him to a vet immediately. Clumsiness and lack of coordination could also be due to a stroke. Respiratory diseases and flu is also known to occur in gerbils. If there are symptoms such as breathing trouble and wetness around the mouth, medical attention is required. Genetic defects are not very common in gerbils, but can occur in some cases. When breeding, ensure that partners are unrelated or distantly related.

  Submitted on May 7, 2010  

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