and Cathy Bickel
When and whether to see a vet is one of the most common questions we hear. In keeping with their easy-to-keep, low-cost natures, gerbils do not need routine vet care such as shots or checkups. However, every living animal can get sick, and when sick, feel poorly. Gerbil owners, like all pet owners, may face the need to seek veterinary care.
Veterinary costs vary widely within North America and around the world. Surgery to remove a scent gland tumor, for example, may cost $100 in one town, but in a big city may run $500 or more. You won't know what the cost is at a particular office until you ask. While the ability to afford a certain treatment is a personal matter, we should all do what is necessary to prevent their suffering. Your veterinarian should explain treatment alternatives during the visit.
Gerbils are very small and the medical issues that can be treated are limited. However, vets can often very successfully treat intestinal, ear, nose or respiratory infections with antibiotics. A very severe tail degloving may require surgery, but broken bones cannot be set. Small tumors on the skin, ears or scent gland can be removed and can lengthen your gerbil's life. Abdominal tumors are generally inoperable. Some vets will not operate on older or infirm gerbils due to risks with anesthesia. Gerbils are lingerers, so a very sick gerbil may need euthanasia in order to avoid extended suffering.
Gerbils and other rodents recover much better from injuries when they receive pain relief. If an injury is causing your animal to hide, nip or stop eating, visit the vet and request a pain reliever such as Metacam.
Finding a Veterinarian
The American Gerbil Society does not recommend any particular veterinarian, or make any claims regarding a particular veterinarian. These links are provided for your convenience. You must check out the veterinarian yourself. The American Gerbil Society cannot be held responsible for any adverse outcome with any veterinarian.
The House Rabbit Society has a list of veterinarians that you may find useful. Gerbils are not rabbits, but many veterinarians who see rabbits will also see gerbils.
The Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians has a vet locator. Click the tab at the top of the page that says "Find an AEMV Vet," then enter your search criteria.
Make sure that the veterinarian treats gerbils.