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One of our gerbils ( about 10 weeks old ) has suddenly become quite aggressive. They had both stopped nipping, and were letting us stroke them quite happily and pick them up, though they don't stay in our hands very long. The one who has become aggressive was even crawling up my daughters arm and up onto her head! This week though she has started biting or trying to bite whenever someone puts their hand in the cage or tries to handle her. As soon as we go over to talk to her she leaps up on to the bars, and will try to bite if we put our fingers anywhere near the bars. If we put our hands in she runs straight over to 'attack'. Does any one know why this could be happening? She is the bigger of the two and seems to be more dominant and more active than the other one. They have chewing toys, tunnels and a wheel (which they don't run on!). Any advice would be very welcome.
I would wonder if she was ill. It's the fact that this seems to be a sudden personality change that would make me wonder if there is something like that behind it. Is she being aggressive to her companion, or only to her humans?
Gerbils don't need wheels, and in fact can injure their tails if they try to use them, especially the open ones, so it's best to remove that. One thought would be to try moving them to a tank or solid plastic cage with enough material at the bottom that they can tunnel. When I first had gerbils, I kept them in an old bird cage, then a small rodent cage with bars. I found they tended to bite the bars and scratch at the floor alot and was told later that this is stereotypical boredom behaviour. I haven't had gerbils for about 6 or 7 years now, but if I did get them, I think I'd do things alot differently - try to replicate their natural environment as much as possible (no bars to chew!) even if that meant I couldn't handle them as much.
It could be worth taking her to the vet though just to rule out any underlying health issues that might be at play. Good luck!
I wondered if she might be ill but she seems so lively, her eyes are bright and her coat is glossy, she is eating and drinking, and pooing! They're actually in a gerbilarium - so that's a 10'' deep tank topped by a tall cage with two levels accessed by ladders. we have half filled the tank with wood shavings and they spend alot of time digging and tunneling. The book I got says that if they are digging then that is a sign they are happy.
I wondered if she needs more exercise, so we've been getting them out the cage and letting them run around in a huge cardboard box with toys and tubes to play with and chew. We'll see if that helps. I think we'll not handle her too much until she seems to calm down, in case it stresses her. The other one is quite happy to be handled. The aggressive one is fine with her sister, it's just humans she bites!
OK, I hate to bring this up, but how sure are you that you have two girls? It's just... Gerbils can breed from 7 weeks old. Maybe she's pregnant and cranky? I don't even know if gerbils are particularly prone to aggression in pregnancy.