MSD Manual

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Pet Owner Version

Selecting a Gerbil


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

Gerbils are available at many pet stores, or they can often be obtained from a local breeder. When selecting a pet gerbil, you should look for one that has smooth glossy fur, clear eyes, and no obvious signs of trauma such as limping or hair loss on the body or tail. There should be no discharge from the eyes or nose and no signs of diarrhea in the gerbil’s environment. Healthy gerbils are usually lively and curious. If any of the gerbils show signs of illness such as matted fur, a hunched posture, or dullness, you should look elsewhere for your new pet.

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