Gerbils are friendly, inquisitive little critters who can make great pets for the right family. Of course, you’ll want to choose a healthy one to maximize the time you spend with your new furry family member. Here, a Black Hills vet advises you on what to look for.
Take a look at the gerbil’s overall coat condition. The fur should be smooth and clean, without any bare patches, crusts, sores, soiled areas, or scratches. Inconsistencies like these could indicate infection and diseases or infighting amongst cage mates.
Try to get a head-on look at the gerbil you’re considering. Are the eyes and nose clean and clear of any discharge or crusty gunk? If you see wet, matted fur around the chin and mouth, the gerbil’s teeth may be too long or misaligned, which could require veterinary attention later.
Take a step back and consider the gerbil’s overall body shape and condition. A healthy gerbil shouldn’t be overly fat or overly skinny, and it should have an even gait. It’s a good idea to look up pictures of healthy, properly-weighted gerbils online, then compare what you have to what you’re seeing in front of you.
Take note of your potential gerbil’s personality and temperament. Gerbils will be skittish, yes, especially if they haven’t had a lot of interaction with humans. However, they should be curious little creatures, not terrified. A gerbil that seems to be hiding, acting anti-social, or seems weak and unwilling to move may have an underlying health condition. Try to pick a lively, curious animal.
Make a note of the gerbil’s current living situation. If conditions aren’t very good, there’s a much greater likelihood of infection, parasites, and other concerns. Is the gerbil’s cage clean, well-stocked, maintained properly, and not overcrowded? If it is, the gerbil you pick will probably be in good health.
Ask your Black Hills veterinarian for more criteria to pick a healthy gerbil. Armed with the right knowledge, you’ll be able to make the best and most informed choice for you and your family!