Occasionally, gerbils need assistance with their personal hygiene. For example. if the first flush of youth is behind them or if they are feeling under the weather, they might need some help keeping their coats in a good condition.
Here are some of the ways you can help your gerbil keep itself clean and tidy.
Your pets will usually clean themselves, but sometimes they need a bit of help
Before you begin, try to determine why your gerbil needs help washing itself. Difficulty cleaning may be indicative of an underlying health problem. For example, is the animal's fur thinning prematurely? Can you see small creatures in their fur? Is the fur and skin scabby and sore-looking? For more information on health-checking your gerbil, check out the How To Check a Gerbil section of this Guide.
Sometimes, however, it might be an emergency, such as something toxic spilt on the gerbil - something it shouldn’t lick. In this case, give your gerbil a lukewarm water bath to wash the substance off. Water baths should only be used in extreme circumstances, as they wash away key molecules from your pet’s coat, which can potentially cause some skin conditions.
Consider these options before resorting to a water bath:Give your gerbil a sand bath
In the wild, gerbils will often use sand to clean their fur. Since there is very little water in the arid climates they naturally inhabit, they’ve evolved this behaviour instead of taking a water bath like we humans do. In fact, they’re so used to these sand baths that water baths are now actually likely to be harmful to their skin.
Sand baths are how gerbils clean themselves in the wild
You can also use a small, wide-toothed brush to try to get something out of a gerbils’ coat, particularly if the contaminant is dried.
Using a damp cloth
If there’s only a small amount of dirt on your gerbil's fur, use a little water on a cloth instead, rather than a whole-body bath. Only use lukewarm water - i.e. neither too cold or too hot, like Goldilocks' porridge.