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Libby Hanna

and Cathy Bickel

Degloving describes an injury in which the fur, skin, and muscle are torn off a gerbil's tail, leaving muscle and bone exposed. It can happen as a result of picking up the gerbil by the tail. It can also happen when grabbing an escaping gerbil by the tail as she runs, particularly if the gerbil is digging her nails into carpeting as she goes.


It is not uncommon, because gerbils have developed this as an escape mechanism. The tail will not grow back.


This type of injury can be painful. Signs of pain include squeaking, hiding, nipping, and carrying the ears back against the head. If your gerbil seems to be in pain, take her to an emergency vet. The vet will amputate the damaged portion of the tail and give the gerbil antibiotics. Your gerbil may need pain relief to recover.


If the gerbil is behaving normally, you can treat the tail at home and the damaged part will eventually dry up and fall off. To treat, clean the wound with warm water. Consult your vet for advice on a gerbil-safe antibiotic ointment. Change the gerbil's bedding and use a soft, absorbent bedding that will not stick to the wound, such as Eco-bedding, Carefresh Ultra, or clean white printer paper shredded in your home shredder. Watch for signs of illness or infection.

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