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Gerbil Parasites

Gerbils can suffer from different types of parasite. Check the information below if you suspect an infestation.

Mites

Mites may take up residence in gerbils' fur. They are often too small to identify with confidence with the naked eye. But although tiny, some of them can be cause great discomfort in your pet. They may burrow under the skin, which is very painful. If you notice that your pet’s skin is scabby and crusted, it could be mites. You can buy mite treatments from your local pet store, but it’s a good idea to ask a vet or other expert to make sure you've made the right diagnosis first.


gerbil parasites
Mites can be painful, and all species can be infected, including these Pallid gerbils

Lice

Gerbils can fall prey to parasites called blood lice. They do what they say on the label - i.e. prey on your pet's blood. They are usually passed on from birds or certain types of unsterilized bedding. Pet stores usually stock louse treatments for this condition - just make sure that it’s specifically for gerbils, as some others may have ingredients that are harmful to your pets.

Fleas

Fleas are small, wingless insects that live in animals' fur (or feathers), sucking blood and causing irritation along the way. They are visible to the naked eye, and can also be identified by their dark droppings. If you spot a lot of dark brown material in your gerbil’s fur, take a piece and put it on some white kitchen paper. Add a drop of water - if it leaves a red stain, you can be pretty sure it's a flea dropping - i.e. a speck of your pet's digested blood.

Fleas can spread quickly from animal to animal, so by the time you've noticed them, you can be sure the other gerbil or gerbils in the enclosure have fleas too. Treat the problem with a store-bought flea powder - but make sure it's one specifically for gerbils. Flea powders for animals such as dogs and cats can contain ingredients that are extremely harmful to small animals, so read the label carefully before purchase/use.

These are tiny bloodsucking critters that can affect humans as well pets gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, cats, dogs, and pretty much anything walking on two or four legs. If you notice a small, round-bodied insect attached to your gerbil's skin, take it to the vet to be removed. The affected area will need to be treated to remove the pest and minimize the risk of infection. The mouthparts of the parasite are tricky to remove and can often get stuck in the skin, causing nasty infections. Ticks can also cause Lyme’s disease, which is a very dangerous condition in any animal. Thoroughly check yourself and your family if you find a tick on any pet.

Ringworm

Ringworm is a fungal infection that can sometimes afflict gerbils. It can be passed on to humans too, so when treating your pets always wear gloves and treat it promptly with a gerbil-specific product.

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