Gerbils make great pets. They're cute, small, friendly, and easy to keep in a reasonably sized cage. However, they are still pets — living creatures — and like all living creatures, they can struggle with some health problems from time to time. When these health problems arise, just as with a dog or cat, you should take your gerbil to the vet. So what are the signs your pet gerbil needs veterinary care?
A wet bottom
If your gerbil's bottom seems to be wet, or worse yet, is caked with feces, then this is a bad sign. Your gerbil probably has diarrhea, and for gerbils, a case of diarrhea can be deadly since it can quickly lead to dehydration. A vet will try to deduce the cause of the diarrhea, which is often a bacterial infection, and will prescribe antibiotics to help clear it. They will also give your gerbil fluids under its skin to help re-hydrate it. The sooner your gerbil receives this care, the better.
Like rabbits and mice, gerbils have teeth that grow continuously out of their jaw. They should grind these teeth down as they eat, but if they do not chew enough, one or more of the teeth may become overgrown. If one of your gerbil's teeth seems to be too long and is poking out while their mouth is closed, the gerbil needs to see a vet. The vet can safely trim the tooth back to a healthy length. They will probably recommend having your gerbil chew on hard items to prevent the same thing from happening again.
Gerbils, when healthy, have so much energy you wonder where they get it all. If your gerbil seems at all tired, lazy, or lethargic, something is up; they're not just ready for a nap. They could have an infection or an internal injury, and the vet needs to see them ASAP to figure it out.
Dull, patchy fur
Gerbils should have shiny, even coats. If your gerbil's coat starts looking dry, or if they start losing hair in patches, this could be a sign of parasites. Although internal parasites are not common in gerbils, they can get worms occasionally. Fleas and mites can also cause this appearance. Your vet can easily treat your gerbil for parasites, which will restore their health and their coat.
If you notice any of the signs above, your gerbil really should see a vet. They're small animals, but they still require good vet care. Contact someone like Third Street Veterinary to learn more.