and Cathy Bickel
Diarrhea is one of the most serious symptoms of illness in gerbils. Normal gerbil stools are small, hard, dry pellets, and are excreted fairly frequently.
A stool which does not have a firm shape, smears, and is output more frequently than normal is suspect. The health of you and your family can be affected by illnesses like salmonella and E. Coli that cause diarrhea in gerbils. Gerbils' small body size and low moisture level means diarrhea can kill a gerbil quickly. Call an emergency vet. Wash your hands after handling the gerbils.
If your gerbil dies before you can see a vet, remove the survivor from the tank, dispose of all bedding, and clean tank, water bottle, and any toys in a bleach solution. Quarantine the survivor from other gerbils for at least two weeks or as advised by your vet.
The AGS's health team strongly recommends a necropsy of a gerbil who has died of diarrhea. Tyzzer's and E. Coli, among other infections, have serious implications for the health of all of your gerbils. If Tyzzer's has made its way into your home, there are strict protocols that will have to be followed, which may include testing, sentinel tanks, and, sadly, sometimes the humane euthanasia of many gerbils who could be asymptomatically harboring Clostridium piliforme, the bacterium that causes Tyzzer's disease. Please feel free to contact the AGS for advice if any of your gerbils have been diagnosed with Tyzzer's, E. Coli, or similar conditions. We share your concerns about eliminating disease in the gerbil population.
Please see the section on Necropsy for more information.