We are going to be discussing the signs or symptoms of a stressed gerbil in this article. For those not familiar with a gerbil, they are small mammals from the rodent family and come from Asia. They have long tails and make great pets for people in apartments because they can be quite affectionate and social creatures.
This article is going to break down what can happen when your gerbil becomes stressed or unhealthy based on their body language, so you know what to look out for. If you are ever reading up on how to stop your pet from getting sick one day you may come across the following about pet stress.
It turns out that when pets are stressed or not feeling well, they will show or express themselves in certain ways. The same thing happens to humans! When we aren’t feeling well we get headaches, body aches, and sometimes even the flu. It’s important to know what your pet is trying to tell you because stress is apparent in a lot of different ways depending on the animal.
This article is about the signs of a stressed gerbil. Gerbils are not known for being social creatures. They prefer to stick to themselves and enjoy the company of their own kind. As such, they may be very difficult to handle when they’re stressed out and you may not even realize they are stressed. After all, stress can negatively affect their health in a variety of ways. For example, they won’t be able to eat, refuse to drink water, and so on.
How do You Know Your Gerbil is Stressed?
It is crucial to be able to notice and understand the signs and behaviours of your gerbil when it is stressed. Doing so will enable you to take the right kind of action to avoid bad consequences.
Just as in humans, stress affects gerbils in a number of different ways. They may refuse food or water, or they might develop gastrointestinal problems. The signs listed below are the most common ones that you should look out for:
Your Gerbil is Not Able to Eat
This is one of the first signs that something isn’t quite right with your gerbil. It won’t eat anything at all and is likely to be lethargic.
You Notice Scratches on Gerbil’s Head
A stressed gerbil may also develop scratches on his head and face. They may be fairly superficial, but you should still take note of them.
Gerbil’s Stool is Small
This one is pretty obvious as well since it’s common for stressed gerbils to experience constipation due to their stress levels. When a gerbil is stressed out, it might start to get constipated. This is something that happens when a gerbil is stressed for too long and needs the release of this pent-up energy.
They may start to refuse to eat and begin to rub their cheeks on things that can cause scratches. Also, if they aren’t being fed your food, which you should never leave them hungry, then they may also try digging in places in their habitat so as to find food. Neither of these is a good sign as your gerbil may die within 48 hours if not properly looked after.
Your Gerbil Has Anxiety
When your gerbil is stressed out, it will likely develop more anxiety than usual. This is fairly similar to the feeling of panic attacks in humans. This is one of the important signs where they get stressed or that they are no longer in a calm state. If they touch things, then they are probably very anxious and scared.
You may notice them running around in circles, but when you look closer you’ll see that their tails are stuck on the ground or something right behind their backs, hence why they think the room is spinning! But don’t worry – this means they are agitated and not actually sick. Most humans do this too when we feel anxious!
Shows Territorialism and Bites You or Other Gerbils
A stressed gerbil may begin to act more and more territorial than usual. It may even attempt to bite you or another gerbil if it feels that its territory is being threatened in any way! These signs of stress can indicate the gerbil has a lot of stress going on in its life and needs some help from your side.
You need to make sure that you are around them and treat them with love and affection so their want for attention will provide that calming effect for them. If you constantly leave to go somewhere and don’t spend as much time with them, then they are going to be stressed out from not being with you. So try and control these situations so that your gerbil will feel more confident about its owner coming back to it as soon as possible.
Very Easily Agitated
This is the worst sign. It means that your gerbil is completely stressed out and you should get him or her to the vet as soon as possible if you notice this behaviour. It can be from illness or boredom, or it may be from bad genes!
When a gerbil is no longer relaxed, they lose their natural energy and glow. They become faded and almost sickly looking. This is a sign that they need to calm down and rest. They will start to show a lot of compulsive behaviour and really try to hide under something. They will start screaming and hissing at you and even scratch you. Also, if they are in pain, they might go limp so you can pick them up without feeling any resistance or pain.
As a gerbil owner, the best thing you can do is cuddle your gerbil when it’s upset, but remember that if he is acting like this because he doesn’t trust you then it could be serious trouble for him. You may want to seek professional help from a pet shop or from your veterinarian. I hope this helps you out with your gerbil pet!
Stressed gerbils will often begin to over-groom themselves, which can be an indicator of stress. In extreme cases, they may even lick their fur off! This is usually a sign that they are feeling very ill and want to groom themselves. If you notice their hair falling out in clumps, then they need your help. This would be the time to make an appointment with the vet! (If this happens, you should visit a vet as soon as possible).
Way Too Active
Your gerbil might become hyperactive as a reaction to stress. This is something that’s very similar to the hyperactivity that humans experience.
May Begin to Attack Themselves
Stressed gerbils may begin to attack themselves out of anxiety and stress. They may bite their own tail or any other part of their body, sometimes to the point where they draw blood.
Eats Less Food Than Normal
This is one of the more severe signs of a stressed gerbil since it can be indicative of malnourishment. You should take note if your gerbil starts to refuse to eat.
Foot or Tail Twitching
A stressed gerbil may begin to twitch its feet or tail out of anxiety and fear. This is something that’s similar to the nervous tics that humans experience.
What to Do About it?
First of all, it is very important to notice the signs of a stressed gerbil. They could be vague at the start and you could think this is normal. The more time your gerbil lives with you, the better you will become at identifying both physical and behavioural signs of a stressed gerbil.
Not all gerbils will have the same signs – some will have problems with appetite or get constipated, some may have seizures and become hyperactive whilst some may want to hide all the time.
Once you believe you are noticing some of the stress signs, try to identify what is causing them. You want to do your best to help your gerbil to calm down and only take it to a vet when you think you can’t help. Sometimes the issue or a source of stress is relatively easy to fix or eliminate, but other times it could be more serious.
For example, does your gerbil have a big enough cage or space for digging? Is there plenty of bedding? Could it be that your gerbil is stressed because you have another pet at home? A cat or dog, perhaps? Try then moving your little gerbil to a different room and don’t let your other pets enter that room.
Is your gerbil lonely? Gerbils are meant to be kept in pairs and need a buddy to be happy. If you think that’s the case, try bodging yours with another gerbil. There may be various reasons why your gerbil is stressed. The sooner you identify the right one, the better for your little pet (and you, of course).