Having a pet in your house is synonymous with great company, good entertainment, and a lot of fun, but it’s not always fun and games, since they can be a huge responsibility and sometimes attract all sorts of pests and gerbils make no exception.
Do gerbils attract pests? Gerbils like all animals do attract pests and all sorts of small creatures, insects, and external parasites if their hygiene is not taking care of properly, and their cages are not cleaned frequently or if low-quality bedding and food are used.
Gerbils are fairly clean animals and they do enjoy their sand baths and it’s a part of their social interaction to clean each other coats, but their hygiene mostly reflects the level of care their owners provide.
So, what kinds of pests can gerbils attract if not cared for properly?
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Can gerbils get fleas?
Yes! gerbils do get fleas which are small, wingless bloodsucking insects, they feed primarily on mammals but also on birds. The most important species are the rat flea, the human flea, and the cat flea.
Fleas are an external parasite that depends upon a host animal for their survival. Once fleas find your pet, the adult fleas will reproduce and thrive on your gerbil, and in your home
Their bites can cause irritation, serious discomfort, and loss of blood. The rat flea is important as
a vector of bubonic plague and flea-borne typhus.
Fleas are not very common in gerbils and, they generally pick them from dogs or cats, so if you only have gerbils in your home it is very unlikely that they get fleas.
Fleas that live on dogs and cats don’t generally do as good living on gerbils as host and they probably won’t stay around for long.
They can come in bedding or food but this is very uncommon because they are very visible and big insect looking creatures.
How to tell if my gerbil has fleas?
Gerbils that are infected with fleas will start scratching their fur, that’s because not only can fleas cause sharp pain when they bite, their salivary glands give off a substance that’s irritating.
As well as itching, red pimples or bumps on your pet’s groin, belly, under the legs, or at the base of their tail may be a sign that your pet has fleas.
Adult fleas are about an eighth of an inch long. They’re reddish-brown and very thin, they are visible to the naked eye, and can also be identified by their dark droppings.
Can gerbils get mites?
Yes! gerbils can get mites, in fact, mites are very common in gerbils, they are not insects but are arachnids. All arachnids, including mites, have two main body parts and eight legs.
It might come as a surprise but gerbils do carry mites in small numbers at all times but it’s never a serious problem and they do not bother their host, but they can increase in numbers under certain conditions, like stress, immunity decrease due to old age or illness or if the gerbil does not reduce their number through regular grooming and that’s why mites infestation can be prevented by practicing good hygiene and maintaining a clean living area for your gerbil.
Gerbils can get mites with proximity to birds, as some types of avian mites will cross over to gerbils. That’s one more reason the gerbil cage should not be placed next to windows where birds may land or build nests.
How to tell if my gerbil has mites?
Mites will cause your gerbil to be frequently scratching and itching and rubbing against his cage wire. Inflamed and reddish skin can also be a symptom your gerbil has mites.
Dry skin and the loss of hair and dirt-like dust on the skin are all signs of mites infested gerbils, it is hard to tell if it’s mites or another parasite but the best thing to do is to consult a vet when you see the first symptoms to confirm the diagnosis.
Another way to spot mites is if you notice a crustiness around the ears it’s a very visible sign of mites, what you can also find is scabs.
A classic place to find scabs on gerbils with mites is around the shoulder area, they’ll literally be peppered by small little bites and the cheeks and under the chin because when they are fully infested that’s where it’s easier for their back feet to reach and scratch.
Can gerbils get lice?
Gerbils can get lice which are usually passed on from birds or infested beddings, they are parasites that prey on blood so if left untreated they can be dangerous to gerbils.
Lice can actually be seen with the naked eyes, it is possible to notice tiny little orange rods that will move in your gerbil’s fur they also have tiny little white dots which are their eggs and they are very apparent in dark fur.
Gerbils can get lice from beddings, or from food or other infested pets.
How to tell if my gerbil has lice?
Like we’ve said before lice can be seen with the naked eye, and the first part to inspect would be the gerbil’s back especially around the base of the tail.
Gerbils tend to groom their faces necks and the surrounding areas because it’s easier to scratch and it’s also the spots that get the worst scabs.
However, in the first stages of infestation, the back is where you should be looking, at the air shaft at the base of the hair.
Other things to bear in mind with lice is you can actually if a gerbil has a serious outbreak feel it and see it on the coat, it will generally look out of condition, dry, fluffy maybe a bit sticky.
On a pale gerbil, they can actually look dirty from lice dirt which is actually their excrement, but in general, an infested gerbil will be scratching far more than normal.
How to prevent gerbil from getting pests?
The safest and most effective way to treat your gerbils for pests and external parasites like fleas, lice, and mites is through prevention.
Making sure your gerbil’s hygiene and cage are properly taken care of and using good quality beddings and food is the best thing you can do to avoid it.
You need to pick up good quality beddings for your gerbils, the one we recommend is Carefresh Small Pet Bedding (check the current price at Amazon).
Good quality food brands are also important to keep the parasites risk to the minimum and the one we recommend for being healthy good quality and safe, is the Oxbow Garden Select Fortified Food (check the current price at Amazon).
Cleaning the gerbils’ cage frequently and giving them access to weekly sand baths can reduce the risk of getting parasites especially lice since gerbils carry mites at all times and these baths help keep their numbers under control.
What I find useful is the quarantine method, most of these parasites and pests have a relatively short life cycle and without food they’ll eventually die.
Planning ahead and having a storage of bedding and food that you can keep away from your gerbil for a few weeks will make sure any parasites that were living in the bedding or the food are long dead before you use it.
In most cases when gerbils get lice or mites from food or beddings it’s when you just have to go and get it the same day.
What you can do if you do have to get a new bag of bedding is to actually freeze it for a couple of days before using it to kill any potential pests and that’s also effective.
How to treat gerbils for lice fleas ad mites?
Preventing pests and parasites is surely the most effective way but in case of an outbreak, you need to be able to treat your gerbils.
Untreated parasites can make life very uncomfortable for your gerbils and they’ll start looking sick pale and their coat will be covered in scabs and bold spots.
Parasites will also make your gerbils very itchy and scratchy and they will not be very active and willing to interact so you need to start treatment as soon as you suspect the presence of these parasites.
The best gerbil treatment for external parasites (that includes mites, lice, fleas, ticks, and many other external parasites) and the safest I could find is the Small Pet Select – Pestavert (check the current prices on Amazon).
This is the most effective pests treatment for gerbils and it’s amazing since it’s 100% organic and does not contain any chemicals and completely non-toxic ingredients.
Most people use dogs and cats lice and flea powder which is too strong for a small animal like the gerbil and it’s complicated to get the right dosage.
It is such a relief to be treating your gerbils while knowing you’re not giving them any toxic substance that could eventually do more harm than good.
There is a strong initial scent which fades quickly and will not irritate the respiratory systems of small animals, applying this product for a few days is enough to see instant changes in your gerbil’s skin and fur, hair will grow back and there will be a lot less scratching.
Besides the treatment, you’ll need to clean your gerbils’ cage and toys thoroughly and change the old beddings and anything that could be infested.
You also want to treat all the gerbils because when there is a parasite outbreak all the gerbils in the same cage will be affected even if it’s not apparent.
Conclusion: Do gerbils attract pests?
Gerbils commonly attract pests and parasites when they are exposed to other pets or if low-quality bedding is used, and when they are not having regular sand baths and periodic cage cleaning and bedding change.
- Make sure your gerbils have weekly sand baths to groom themselves.
- Clean the gerbil’s cage frequently and make sure the bedding is changed.
- Have a stock of beddings and food quarantined to make sure any potential parasites are long dead before use.
- Choose high-quality food and beddings.
- Avoid placing your gerbil’s cage next to windows or other animals’ nests and cages especially birds.
- Constantly check your gerbils’ coat and ears for any potential visible scabs or itch marks.
- Have the treatment available and use it when you notice your gerbils are scratching too often.
Remember that prevention is the best way to get rid of gerbil parasites.References