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Gerbils & Hamsters/Gerbil change of habit


I have a gerbil who is 2 years and 9 months old. He has been on his own since he was 6 months old. We decided to keep him on his own, since he was very aggressive towards other gerbils and would not tolerate them, we had a sad event with his last friend which ended tragically. Yet he has always been good with people and has never bitten my girls.

He has always been a very busy gerbil. We always give him toys, soft bedding, and lots of digging material. He comes out often and tends to get a lot of fuss made of him.

Over the last couple of weeks he has changed his habits. He always sleeps in a wooden house with bedding. Now he sleeps in his sand bowl, which is not so warm and comfortable. He spends a lot of time in open, on the top shelf and is less active. He has always been a large gerbil, but he seems to of lost some weight lately. Also his coat does not look so thick.

We also noticed he hurt his tail (near the body end). There is a drop of congealed blood, however it looks clean.    

I would really appreciate your advice on what to do.

Hi Alexa

Thanks for your question.

Firstly he is getting old - at this age you would expect him to look thinner, have less energy etc. so in itself this isn't of concern.  However they are prone to getting tumors which can also cause these symptoms. At this age there would be little you could do if there is a tumor other than consider euthanasia if you feel he is suffering,

Is he eating ok? I suggest you make sure food and water are readily available and he doesn't have to climb to get to them. Are you able to check his teeth? If so it would be worth having a look just to make sure they haven't broken or greatly overgrown as this would cause weight loss. I've had gerbils who have lost their teeth before. In which case you'd need to modify his diet and I can advise on this. Overgrown teeth would need careful trimming.

Regarding the tail - it's not a big problem - just keep an eye on it to check it doesn't infect otherwise he might need antibiotics.

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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