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Handling, flat hand

Libby Hanna

2020 updates by Cathy Bickel

Part of having a nice tame gerbil is learning how to handle it in ways that it finds comforting and not frightening.


Gerbils need to move freely, and don’t like to be squeezed. Keep your hands open. To start, place your palm very flat on the floor of the tank while you sit beside it. Your arm should rise up at the gentlest angle you can manage. If she doesn't climb your arm, lift your hand, raising up the gerbil, and place it across your chest. Place your other arm in a similar position, making a little shelf for your gerbil. Move your hands and arms as she moves, giving her somewhere to go. If she moves repeatedly in the direction of the tank, lower her back into it.


While playing with her, see if you can get her to climb down your arm into the tank. Keep your arm at as gentle a slope as possible. Gerbils quickly figure out that the down-stairway is also the up-stairway, and with a few repetitions may begin scampering right up your arm.


Some gerbils need the security of going back to their tanks frequently during a handling session. Let her go back as many times as she wishes. When she's ready to come back out, she'll turn, stand on her hind legs and look at you as if to say "Again!"


When you are done playing with your gerbil, reward her with a food treat or a tube.


See Taming for more information.

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