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Gerbils & Hamsters/Two of my gerbils are bleeding!


Hey, I have 5 gerbils, im sorry but im not sure exactly what type they are. they are not that old, we got them about four months ago from the pet store, and she said they were teenager gerbils i think. we have them in three cages connected by tubes and i take them out at least three times a week so they can run around in a big pen for a while. a few minutes ago i just went in to refill their water bottles and food and stuff and i saw one of the gerbils in the bottom cage curled up in the corner and once i looked closer i saw that the gerbil was rather bloody by the front from his nose/mouth area down to his front paws and around there. i dont think he is bleeding anymore but he is limping pretty badly and im not sure but i cant really see his other front paw. i thought it was just that one, so i separated their cages so it was just that one alone, then i looked at the others and i saw another one had the same amount of blood on it and looked about the same, except this one seemed rather alert and  not much worse for wear except for the blood. the other gerbils were fine and rubbing up against this one and licking it. they might have faught but i havnt seem them fighting other than little squabbles sometimes, but those only last a second. im not sure what happened, or when it happenede. it could have been anytime from last night to a hour ago. im not sure, they've been climbing the cage wall because the bars make a ladder, and they've been climbing on it and then jumping off once they get near the top (its a very high cage)and iv tried to stop them  but it hasnt worked. i dont know what to do because i dont want them to suffer but im not able to take them to the vet. please help!

thank you~morgan

Hi Morgan

Thanks for your question - I'm sorry to hear about your gerbils.

It does sound like fighting.  I had a similar situation some years ago when I had 4 living together.  There was no real sign of fighting, just the occasional squeek, or and chase across the cage.  The one evening I noticed one of them appeared wet.  When I looked at him I discovered his body was covered in bite marks, and although there was little blood, his body was weeping.  I rushed them all the the vet, and there we found another of the gerbils also with bites.  The one who was badly bitten was separated permanently from the others, but the one with just a couple of bites remained and he was fine.  I think they have a dominance issue and that one has to be in charge and this causes fighting.

The one who was badly bitten did survive but I had to do intensive nursing for a couple of days, and you will probably need to do this with yours.

firstly, it is important that your gerbil does not dehydrated.  Any bites will cause a loss of fluids and if he dehydrates he will go downhill rapidly.  Buy a packet of oral rehydration powders from the chemist - the type that humans take if they have lost fluids due to sickness and diarrhoea.  Mix a sachet according to the instructions.  Get hold of a dropper or pipette, and try to get the poorly gerbil to take this  You might have to force a few drops in his mouth initially, but he should start to drink it.  When I did this with my one, after a few attempts be would sit and drink straight from the pipette if I held it for him.  I couldn't believe how much of this solution he drank and this was a major turning point for him.  If you can get yours to take some, let him drink as much as he wants to.  Offer him more every hour or two - he'll soon let you know when he doesn't want any more.

If need be, fill his water bottle with the solution for a couple of days - they seem to like the flavour of it because of the sugar content.  if he won't drink it you can add a few drops of blackcurrant juice.

Also, you need to make sure none of the bites get infected.  Carefully wash the area in warm salt water - don't soak him completely - if you do, make sure the cage is in a warm part of the house so that his body temperature doesn't drop dramatically as you don't want him going into shock.  Salt water is a good antiseptic, but you can also get teatree cream from pet shops and this is a natural antiseptic that can be used on gerbils.  If there is any sign of pus coming from any wound, then he will probably need antibiotics, so you would need to find a vet to get hold of these, but hopefully if you can treat him quickly and regularly over the next day or two, he might be OK.

Try and get him to take some food - give him his favourite treats - sunflower seeds etc to keep his strength up.

Regarding the others, they may well be fine now that this one has been removed, but do keep a close watch for any signs that there are problems.  It sounds as though they ganged up on this one and they may settle down now. You could also try this same treatment on the other one who is bloody.  Usually if wounds are kept clean and don't infect they will sort themselves out.  Occasionally a vet needs to intervene - if this is the case, phone a few to find one who has a small animal specialist and also check their fees.  Vets can be expensive and you want to make sure that if you are paying out money to see one, that you get the best treatment.  Also check that they will offer you a reduced fee for a gerbil - usually they do.

Having removed him from the cage, do not be tempted to try and reintroduce him as when they turn on each other they won't become friends again.

I hope this helps you and that he is OK.


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Sheila Adby


Syrian hamsters are my specialty, however, I have kept Campbells,Winter Whites and gerbils in the past. I can advise on most subjects associated with hamsters, including housing, bedding, feeding, handling, new borns and catching escapees. I have had some experience of various health problems with hamsters and can offer my opinion and advice on basic health issues, however I am not a qualified vet and therefore cannot recommend drugs etc. My website is


I have been keeping hamsters and other small animals for more than 12 years. My favourites are Syrian hamsters and I foster litters and 'difficult' hamsters for a rescue centre. My job is to tame hamsters ready for re-homing, which is extremely rewarding. I also enjoy looking after new litters and raising the pups. I have co-written a book on hamsters with my local vet and have a website:

Hamsters in Sickness and in Health - Sheila Adby and Dan O'Neill ISBN186163218-5 (Capall Bann Publishing)

Educated to A Level standard in the UK.

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