Does your Gerbils bite, and you want to know why they do that? Is there a way to stop them from biting? In this article, I’ll cover everything you should know.
Gerbils usually bite in self-defense and when irritated. They don’t have a long sharp claw to defend themselves against predators and threats; therefore, they resort to their only power — their sharp teeth to bite. However, you can stop your gerbil from biting by avoiding actions that irritates the pet and gently blowing in its face when it bites.
Does a Gerbil Bite Hurt?
Gerbils have sharp teeth; therefore, their bite hurts. How hurtful the bite is depend on how hard the animal bite. Like other mammals, it can exert much force to bite, and it can nip.
For instance, If you handle the little creature too roughly, it might assume it’s about to be killed or injured, in which case it’ll bite you so hard. A hard gerbil bite can be so painful and could draw blood and cause injury.
On the other hand, if it doesn’t feel much threat by you but is somewhat disturbed, it might bite you gently to give a warning sign. This isn’t as painful as a full bite, and it may draw no blood. Such a slight bite is regarded as a nip and can occur when you irritate your gerbil. Therefore, gerbil bites could be painful, and the severity of the pain is equivalent to the severity of the bite.
Do All Gerbils Bite?
All Gerbils bite, but some Gerbils bite more than others. This little creature rarely bites, but sometimes, they may resort to such action to push away what they perceive as a potential threat.
Biting isn’t a common act you’ll find among Gerbils, but they bite in specific cases. Biting is not restricted to some species of Gerbils; it is a trait possessed by all of these little rodents. Therefore, if your Gerbils have never bitten you, it doesn’t mean they can’t bite. Instead, it means you’ve been doing the right thing and haven’t crossed the border that’ll make the small animal swing into defense.
Nevertheless, like humans, Gerbils also differ in emotions. Some are calmer than others. Therefore, while some Gerbils won’t get annoyed so quickly, little acts might annoy others and resort to biting. This is why you might have been bitten severally by one of your Gerbils while you never had the experience with the others.
Main Reasons Why A Gerbil Bites
The primary reason why gerbil bite is to defend themselves. They have short claws which could not inflict much injury on whatever threatens them; thus, they rely on their sharp teeth to fight and defend themselves.
Some of the reasons why your gerbil might bite you include:
- It can’t recognize you
- You mishandled it
- You shout when handling the pet
- You touch it too frequently
1. It can’t recognize you
If you’ve been away for a while, your gerbil might soon forget you and perceive you as a stranger when next you go near it. If it doesn’t recognize you and you try handling it, it might keep moving away, and if you pick it up by force, you might end up bitten.
2. You mishandled it
Gerbils don’t love to be handled harshly. Being a tiny creature, if you squeeze Gerbils too much, it might feel uncomfortable, and the squeezing might be painful. When that happens, your gerbil might bite you so that you can let go of it, and such a bite could be severe.
3. You shout when handling the pet
This little pet loves quietness and hates noise. Should you speak in a loud voice when handling your gerbil, it might feel uncomfortable, and bite your hand to let go.
4. You touch it too frequently
Gerbils love to be left alone sometimes. If you continue to touch it when it doesn’t like to be touched, it perceives your action as a disturbance, and you may be bitten.
If your gerbil bites you, you’ve likely crossed one of these lines. Therefore, you must take the time to understand this little mammal to avoid being bitten.
What does it mean when a gerbil bites you?
When gerbil bites, it means it is stressed, frightened, or endangered. Gerbils, like most rodents, don’t bite for no reason. If they nip, it shows they want to be left alone; if they bite so hard, perhaps they feel endangered.
To better understand what it means when your gerbil bites you, we should make two classifications:
- The hard bite
- The soft bite
The hard bite
If your Gerbil bites you so hard, it means it perceives you as a potential danger. Perhaps you’ve acted in certain ways, as explained earlier, that make your beautiful pet think of you as a threat.
The soft bite
Pet owners call this a nibble. It is a light bite that doesn’t inflict injury. Therefore, if your gerbil nibbles at your hand, it might want to know how you taste to get used to you. In this case, it doesn’t see your presence as a threat. Also, it might bite you softly if there’s a food remnant in your hand and you haven’t washed it before going near the pet.
Can gerbil bites be dangerous?
Gerbils’ bite can be dangerous if you don’t thoroughly wash and cleanse the injured part. Their mouth is full of bacteria; hence, once you’re bitten, the bacteria transfer to the wound, and that could be dangerous.
A hard gerbil bite will severely pierce your skin and result in heavy bleeding. If left untreated, you may lose a significant amount of blood through the wound. Besides the infection from the pet’s mouth, the wound also exposes you to the risk of infection from the surrounding.
Therefore, you shouldn’t take Gerbil’s bite for granted. Once bitten, you should wash the area with a copious amount of water. This will help to get rid of some of the bacteria in the wound. However, this is just first aid; you should seek immediate medical attention.
If, after washing, the bleeding continues, you should cover the injury with a clean cloth. This will also help to prevent the wound from further infection before you get the required medical help.
Is a gerbil bite infectious?
Gerbils mouth contains various bacteria; therefore, their bite is infectious. The bite is often accompanied by the bacteria in their mouth, thereby causing infection. If the bite breaks your skin, it exposes you to further infection in the environment.
The severity of a gerbil bite depends on two significant factors:
- The pet’s health status
- The severity of the bite
The pet’s health status
The bite of a sick gerbil is usually more infectious than that of its healthy counterpart. Sick Gerbils tend to have more dangerous bacteria in their mouth; once you’re bitten, the bacteria enter your wound, and you’re infected.
The severity of the bite
A nibble may cause little or no infection, especially if the area is washed on time. Such a slight bite doesn’t pierce deeply in your skin; even if bacteria transfer from the pet’s mouth, it’ll remain on the skin surface and not deep under the skin, especially if the skin is not broken.
Some common symptoms you’ll observe if you’re infected by gerbil bites include:
- The edges of the wound will be red
- It will become swollen
- Pus in the wound
Why do gerbils bite other gerbils?
Like other mammals, Gerbils fight too, and when they do, they severely bite each other. Therefore, Gerbils Bite other gerbils when they are fighting. Injury sustained from the bite could result in severe bleeding, which is unhealthy for your beautiful pet.
If you see your gerbil chasing each other frantically, it’s a sign that they’re fighting; you should step in and separate them before they inflict serious injuries upon each other. When these little mammals fight, they bite each other severely and inflict serious injuries.
When your Gerbils begin to fight often and bite each other, it’s a sign that they’re not in peace with each other any longer. It might be a fight for dominance or survival. Whichever it is, you should separate the two rodents and put them in a separate cage. This will prevent further biting.
How to prevent a gerbil from biting
You can prevent your gerbil from biting by spending more time near it, not irritating the pet, and changing your approach to picking up the pet. You can also gently poke its nose when you’re bitten.
Acting appropriately when bitten by your gerbil can make the pet change the unacceptable behavior. On the other hand, failure to act appropriately means the gerbil may continue to bite. Below are the steps to take to prevent your beautiful rodent from biting:
- Spend more time near it
- Don’t irritate the pet
- Adopt a better and gentler pickup approach
- Poke its nose when bitten
- Gently blow into its face when bitten
Spend more time near your gerbil
If you’ve been away for a while and your gerbil bites you as you try to touch it when you return, that may indicate that it no longer recognizes you. Thus, you need to familiarize yourself with it again. Besides feeding the pet, you should also sit close to its cage for some period every day. At first, the gerbil might be frightened, but it’ll soon realize you’re not there to cause harm. When it finally realizes this, it’ll come out to eat and exercise when you’re around and won’t bite when you touch it.
Don’t irritate the pet
You should study your pet and identify its likes and dislikes. Once you know what irritates your pet, you can abstain from it. Some common activities that may irritate your gerbil include:
- Picking it up when it doesn’t want to be picked
- Stroking it where it doesn’t want you to
- Continuing holding the pet when its tired of being held
- Cuddling the gerbil when it doesn’t want to be curdled
- Adopt a better and gentler pickup approach
Picking your gerbil from up isn’t a good approach. Eagles and other large birds prey on rodents like Gerbils, and they pick the little creatures from up. Thus, should you also adopt a similar approach, your pet might assume you’re an eagle and struggle to bite you. You should replace this pickup method with a better one. A more preferred way to pick up the pet is to go through the front door. Gently place your palm on the floor and allow your pet to climb while you gently pick it up.
Another way to do that is to gently scoop it up by calmly placing your two palms on each side of the pet. You should not grab your gerbil by surprise; you might scare it. Instead, you should give a warning before picking it up. Don’t just open the cage and grab it unexpectedly. Instead, you should approach calmly, gently open the enclosure without scaring your beautiful pet, and speak in a calm voice. When you finally hold it, you should avoid holding it too tightly.
Poke its nose when bitten
If your gerbil is biting you, gently poking its nose is an excellent corrective measure to make it realize you don’t like such an act. Not only will it help to disengage the bite, but it’ll also make the gerbil abstain from such action other times. It is typical behavior among these little rodents. For instance, if one gerbil does something the other doesn’t like, the other gerbil may gently poke it on the nose.
However, you shouldn’t exert too much pressure when tapping your little pet on the nose. You don’t want to injure it. Thus, you should only exert a gentle poke with your finger enough to push the pet back.
Gently blow into its face when bitten
Gerbils don’t like air blown on their face. Therefore, you can adopt this as a corrective measure. The next time you’re bitten, gently puff a little air into its face. This will force it to let go of the bite. Although it might still bite you another time, if you continue to gently blow on its face every time it bites, soon, it’ll associate biting with the air blowing; thus, it’ll eventually stop.
However, you must be careful when blowing air into your Gerbil’s face to avoid seizures. You should only do it gently.