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Serious bites from gerbils are quite rare, but very painful. Gerbils generally bite because they are fearful, in pain, smell the scent of an unknown gerbil on your fingers, or because you intervened in a gerbil fight. A gerbil can bite hard enough to be literally hanging off your finger. In this case, grasp the animal firmly with the other hand and open its jaws by squeezing lightly with your thumb and forefinger on either side where the jaws meet, then separate him or her from your hand.
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