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Gerbils & Hamsters/Pear shaped gerbil


One of my gerbils recently became rapidly, evenly, pear shaped, (abdomen swollen?) and unfortunately before I could get him to the vet he died. When we found him it looked like something near a hind leg had ruptured, there was a round wound about 2.5cm across, and I'd really appreciate knowing what happened to  the poor guy :(

Hi Jay

I'm really sorry to hear about your gerbil. The first thing that comes to mind is that he had a tumor.  Aggressive tumors can grow incredibly fast and if they grow in the abdomen they do tend to make the animal pear shaped.  If they get too big the tumor can rupture.  The skin that covers a gerbils abdomen is extremely glandular and it isn't uncommon to have tumors growing there. I've had several that had this although fortunately the tumors grew externally and slow enough for them to have surgery.

I suspect it was something like this, but it is impossible to know without seeing him.  I'm really sorry for your loss, but even if you had found him earlier you probably wouldn't have been able to do anything other than have him put to sleep.

I hope this helps you.


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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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