How to Choose a Healthy Gerbil

Are you in the market for a pocket pet, but aren’t interested in the more-common guinea pig or hamster? A great rodent pet we often forget about is the gerbil. Learn how to choose a healthy gerbil below from a Lorain vet.

Check the Body

If a gerbil appears too fat or too skinny, a health condition could be to blame. In addition, an uneven or wobbly gait could point to skeletal or muscular problems. It’s best to consult your vet or research online what a healthy gerbil body composition should look like—this way, you can compare against the real thing when searching for your perfect pet.

Note the Coat

Is the fur of your potential gerbil smooth and clean? A coat that is dirty or contains bald patches, scratches, sores, or crusts could indicate infection or disease. These conditions might be expensive to treat, so make sure your budget is prepared for the condition of your gerbil before you bring her home.

Examine the Head

Try to get a direct look into the gerbil’s face. Are the eyes, ears, and nose clean and clear? Crusts, mucus build-up, or other discharge could be a sign of a health problem. If you can, try to get a look at the gerbil’s teeth. Overgrown or misaligned teeth will need veterinary attention. Often, matted fur around the chin is an indicator of overgrown teeth.

Look Around the Environment

Take a moment to step back and examine the gerbil’s living environment. A cage that is dirty, unkempt, unsanitary, or overcrowded is far more likely to house parasites and infections. A gerbil picked from a clean, well-cared for cage is going to be healthier. Make sure your future pet has been cared for with enough food, water, and proper bedding during his stay at the shelter or pet store.

Consider Personality and Temperament

Once you’ve narrowed your choice down to perhaps a few gerbils, try to note the temperament of the animals. Gerbils are skittish, yes, but they should also be curious little creatures. A gerbil that seems lethargic or very anti-social could indicate a health concern.

Work closely with your Lorain veterinarian to choose your next pet. With his or her help, you’ll be able to find just the right gerbil for you and your family!

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