Choosing a Healthy Gerbil

Gerbils make great little pets, and are even good for children who are old enough to handle them properly. Before you go to the pet store, learn how to pick out a healthy gerbil as your Fort Bend veterinarian discusses it below.

Examine the Body Condition

Gerbils shouldn’t look fat, or too skinny. Pick a gerbil that looks to be at a healthy weight. You can look up diagrams on the Internet or consult your veterinarian. Also watch the gerbil’s gait to make sure it’s straight and normal. An abnormal gait could indicate a broken bone or health problem.

Look at the Coat

A gerbil’s fur should be smooth looking and not dirty. Look for any bare patches, soiling around the rear, and any scratches, sores, or crusts on the body—these could be signs of disease, infection, or other health concerns.

Check the Head

Look at the gerbil’s face. Are the eyes, ears, and nose clear and clean? There shouldn’t be any wetness, crusts, or discharge of any kind.

If possible, get a look at the gerbil’s mouth and teeth. They should be straight and properly aligned, and not overgrown. A good sign of overgrown teeth is wetness or mats on the chin area—a gerbil often drools if his teeth are too long or misaligned.

The animal’s breathing should be quiet. You shouldn’t hear anything at all, especially wheezing or gurgling.

Note the Attitude and Temperament

In general, gerbils are curious little creatures with inquisitive attitudes. They should be eager to inspect their environment. They may be skittish around people at first, but will warm up to being handled. Don’t choose a gerbil that seems to be hiding or doesn’t seem to want to interact with his cage mates.

Inspect the Environment

Aside from the gerbil itself, it’s important to take note of the living conditions. If a gerbil is kept in a dirty, unkempt environment, the chance of infections, parasites, or other health concerns is greater. Make sure the cage is clean, well-stocked, and not overcrowded.

Contact your Fort Bend veterinarian to further discuss picking a healthy gerbil as your family pet.


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