Are you considering a gerbil as your next pet? You’ll want to pick a healthy one! Learn what to look for as a Grayson veterinarian fills you in below.
Look at your potential gerbil’s overall body shape. A gerbil in good condition shouldn’t look overly fat or too skinny. Try to get a look at the animal moving around—does it have an even gait? Skeletal or muscular problems could be present if the gerbil has a limp. It may be helpful to consult pictures of healthy gerbils and compare them with the real thing.
Coat of Fur
Examine the gerbil’s coat of fur. Is it smooth and clean? If you see bald patches, soiled areas, scratches, sores, or crusts, it could indicate infection, disease, fighting amongst gerbil cage-mates, or other problems.
Eyes, Nose, Mouth
Look directly into your prospective gerbil’s face. The eyes should be clean and clear, free of any gunk or crusts. The nose shouldn’t have mucus or other detritus around it. Do you see wet, matted fur around the mouth? It may mean that the animal’s teeth are misaligned or too long, which will need a veterinarian’s attention. Since a gerbil’s teeth grow consistently throughout life, a good shelter or pet store should keep their gerbils’ teeth filed down regularly.
Temperament and Personality
Consider how the gerbil you’re considering acts. Gerbils are skittish little creatures, but they shouldn’t act afraid, indifferent, anti-social, or lethargic. Make sure the gerbil you’re considering appears lively and curious.
Don’t forget to examine the gerbil’s living conditions. If your gerbil has been living in less-than-stellar conditions for months, there’s a much greater chance he’ll have health problems to deal with later. Is the cage clean? Is waste cleared out regularly? Is it well-stocked and not overcrowded with animals?
It may be helpful to talk with your Grayson veterinarian before heading out to pick a gerbil. He or she can tell you more about what to look for to ensure you’re getting the healthiest pet possible!