Fortunately, gerbils generally have few health problems. A healthy example has bright eyes and is lively. Its coat is smooth, soft and regular. Its rear end is dry and clean. A sick gerbil sits withdrawn all the time.
Its coat is dull and stands open, as if wet. The animal’s back is raised, even when walking.
The rule that “prevention is better than a cure” also applies to small animals such as the gerbil. It’s not always easy to cure a sick gerbil. They are so small that even a vet doesn’t always know how to treat them.
Even a light cold can prove fatal for a gerbil and the biggest risks to its health are droughts and damp.There are few general rules that you can follow if your gerbil is ill:
- Keep the animal is a quiet semi dark place. Stress, crowding and noise won’t help it get better.
- Keep the animal warm, but make sure its surroundings are not too hot. The best temperature is 20 to 21°C
- Don’t wait too long before visiting a vet. Small rodents that get sick usually die within a few days.
- The patient should always have fresh water and remember that your animal may be too weak to reach its water bottle.
- Sick animals often eat little or nothing. Give it a small piece of apple or other fruit.
- Several of the conditions mentioned below can spread very easily. Do not separate gerbils that live together as they will have already been exposed to the relevant agent, however, if you have more than one tank or cage, always make sure you do not carry the infection from one group of gerbils to the other.
Colds and pneumonia
Droughts are the most common cause of colds and pneumonia for gerbils, so choose the place for its home carefully.
They can withstand low temperatures, but cold in combination with a drought almost inevitably leads to a cold. The gerbil starts sneezing and gets a wet nose. If its cold gets worse, the animal starts to breathe with a rattling sound and its nose will run even more, so it’s now time to visit the vet, who can prescribe antibiotics. A gerbil with a cold or pneumonia must be kept in a drought-free and warm room 22 to 25°C.
Diarrhea is another formidable threat to gerbils and often ends fatally. Unfortunately, diarrhea is usually result of incorrect feeding, sometimes in combination with droughts or damp. Most cases of diarrhea are caused by giving the animal food with too high a moisture content. After all, the gerbil’s digestive system is not used to it. Rotten food or dirty drinking water can also be a cause. You can do a lot to prevent diarrhea yourself.
Should your gerbil become a victim then you must take any moist food out of the cage immediately. Feed your animal only dry bread, boiled rice or crisp bread. Replace its water with lukewarm camomile tea. Clean out its cage litter and nest material twice a day.
If your gerbil is not better within one or two days, you must take it to the vet’s! Once the diarrhea is over, you need to disinfect the whole cage.
E-coli bacteria causes an especially serious form of diarrhea and most victims die within 48 hours. Gerbils that fall victim to this disease have a constantly wet tail and anus; they won’t eat and become apathetic.
E-coli bacteria are normally present in small quantities in the intestines of a small rodent. In the event of reduced resistance of stress, the bacteria suddenly becomes active. Whenever your gerbil has a wet tail take it to the vet’s immediately. The other animals in the cage also have to be treated. As this disease is highly contagious, you have to pay particular attention to hygiene.