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Pet Owner Version

Routine Health Care of Gerbils


Thomas M. Donnelly

, BVSc, DVP, DACLAM, DABVP(ECM), The Kenneth S Warren Institute;

Katherine E. Quesenberry

, DVM, MPH, DABVP (Avian)

Reviewed/Revised May 2020 | Modified Oct 2022
Topic Resources

Early Warning Signs of Illness in Your Gerbil

  • Inactivity

  • Hunched posture

  • Loss of appetite or weight

  • Dehydration

  • Changes in color, consistency, odor, or amount of urine and feces

  • Discharge from the eyes, ears, or nose

  • Rough and matted hair coat

  • Trouble breathing

Gerbils are relatively healthy animals. However, it is a good idea to monitor your gerbil’s condition and behavior daily. Early warning signs that may indicate illness include weight loss, decrease in activity, change in the appearance of the fur, and change in the color, consistency, smell, or amount of urine or feces. If any of these changes occur, it is best to bring your gerbil to a veterinarian.

Dental Care

Because gerbils’ incisor teeth grow continuously, they need to constantly chew and gnaw to keep these teeth worn down. Overgrown teeth can cause lack of appetite and weight loss. Several varieties of chew toys are available; small rope and wood parrot toys are good choices for gerbils. Scrap lumber, as long as it is untreated, is another inexpensive option.

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