In contrast to most other rodents, gerbils seldom have problems with tumors, and when they do it is mostly in the old age. Tumors occur more frequently in strains where in-breeding has occurred, in other words where animals have been crossed with their own family members. The most common tumors affect the female’s teats, but tumors can also be the result of skin cancer. These forms can be operated on but, because of the animal’s age, this rarely makes sense.
Another form of tumor is caused by an infection under the skin and is called an abscess. A small wound may heal, but an infection remains under the skin. This type of tumor can be easily treated by the vet who open and clean it. Should your gerbil show signs of a tumor, take it straight to the vet’s. Delaying can only make things worse, both with skin cancer and abscesses.
The most common injuries suffered by a gerbil are the result of fights. Pairing adult animals Is not always easy and can sometimes result in fierce fighting.
Bite wounds generally heal quickly, and as long as they’re not too big deep you usually don’t need to do much. Don’t let the wounded animal sit on sawdust or sand for the first few days. Small pieces might get into the wound. Shredded paper or kitchen roll is a good alternative.
Gerbils sometimes break bones because the get stuck with their paws, jump off your hand or fall from a table. An animal with a broken paw will not put weight on it and will limp around the cage.
If it’s a “straight” fracture (the paw is not deformed), this will heal within a few weeks. Take care that the gerbil can reach its food and drink without difficulty. If a gerbil has broken its back, it’s best to have it put to sleep. If in doubt about a possible fracture, always consult a vet.
Gerbils that are fed an unbalanced diet with too few minerals run the risk of broken teeth. If you notice that your gerbil has a broken tooth, check that its diet is properly balanced,. The vet can prescribe gistocal tablets to restore the calcium level. A broken front tooth will normally grow back, but you should check regularly that this is happening.
A rodent’s front teeth grow continuously and are ground down regularly by its gnawing. A genetic defect, a heavy blow or lack of gnawing opportunities can disrupt this process. Its teeth are ground irregularly and in the end don’t fit together properly. In some cases the teeth continue to grow unchecked, even into the opposite jaw.
When a rodent’s teeth are too long, it can no longer chew properly and the animal will lose weight and eventually starve to death.
Long teeth can easily be clipped back. A vet can slow you how to do that, or do it for you if you don’t feel able. Take care that your rodent always has enough to gnaw on, A piece of breeze block, a block of wood or a branch will do fine.
Not only calcium deficiency, but also a shortage of other minerals and vitamins can lead to sicknesses.