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One of my gerbils is being repeatedly bitten by one of the others and looks really sad! :(

5 replies

JellyBelly10 · 23/12/2011 20:29

We've had 4 male gerbils (all from same litter) since May 2010. They are kept in a big gerbilarium with a huge tank at the bottom filled with sawdust and cardboard tubes etc and on top is a two-story cage where they have a wooden house big enough for all four of them to sleep in. They are well fed and have always been very happy. Recently though two of them have started fighting (they are the two who look the same, both brown, whereas other two are a grey and a white). One of them is coming off much worse than the other and now looks terrible with big scabs around his face and shoulders where he's being bitten. The only thing that I can think of that might have started this off is that a couple of weeks ago their water bottle got stuck and they couldn't get water out of it but I didn't notice for a few days, so by the time I noticed and then replaced it so they could access water again they were all fighting to get to the water Blush and I felt terrible about it! But this fighting between tow of them is continuing. What do I do? I am reluctant to get another cage and separate them, I wouldn't want one on his own, and neither would I really want to put two in each cage as up until now they have got on really well. Is the fighting likely to stop as suddenly as it started? Or once they fight is one doomed to be picked on forever? Sad Any suggestions?

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LordOfTheFlies · 23/12/2011 23:39

No experience with gerbils, but I've had male guinea-pig wars.
Do they definately have enough room and enough seperate hidey spaces? I would say one each + one spare.

My GPs are fine outside, they have plenty of room, different levels, boxes and half a big bag of hay to burrow through. (Hot water bottles and heater)

But inside, they don't appreciate their smaller quarters. We put a strong metal grill inthe middle. They can see,hear,touch,smell each other but have their own food and blanket.

My DH thinks it's unkind to seperate them, but they are together during the day, it's just there is more space if one says 'bugger off'.

I think male rodents tend to be territorial (do the gerbils 'mark'?) . Yours are 18 months + so doubtful if teenage arsieness (my GPs are about 1 yo, I've had them since end October)

If it was a food/water issue that started it, make sure you have 2 water bottles, placed apart. Same with food bowls.
I use big flat metal dog bowls in the pighouse, they can both eat and drink without squabbling.Well that's the theory.

Someone will be along who is gerbil savvy.

Trouble with little rodents- you can't get their tackle whipped off easily. (OK with rabbits) But I do threaten mine with this Xmas Grin

KRITIQ · 24/12/2011 00:49

I had gerbils before I had cavies. Gerbils are better in pairs, although you can have 3 males but only 2 females. Sometimes though, they can fall out and particularly if blood is drawn, you will need to separate them. It's quite likely the weaker, victimised gerbil will be hounded and basically tortured until it dies.

You also can't introduce another gerbil to an adult gerbil, but I did look after a solo rescue gerbil for nearly 2 years in a tank with peat and hay. He happily dug tunnels, grew and ate food (some of the gerbil food sprouted!) and seemed pretty content until he finally died. If you haven't room for two tanks, perhaps you could find someone to look after the lone gerbil. It might be possible to split them into two pairs, but it's quite likely that it isn't just the other golden agouti that's having a go at him. You could end up in the situation where you separate into two pairs, then have to separate another pair but can't then reintroduce either to the remaining two, so end up with THREE tanks!

You could be right that this kicked off due to the stress caused by not having water for a time. I had two dwarf hamsters that started fighting and had to be separated after there was an accident in the kitchen with a glass cooker door shattering very noisily near them. As Lord says, it's good to have 2 bottles on the go, or better check the bottle is working/full twice a day. Water should ideally be changed daily anyhow.

Best of luck. In this case, letting "nature take its course" is not the right way to go. It's not humane to let the attacked gerbil suffer like this.

JellyBelly10 · 24/12/2011 23:38

Well I've now removed the gerbil who was being attacked, but to be honest the other brown one has some bad wounds too, so I'm not sure who was the most aggressive. I've had to put him in a temporary home until I can go and buy another proper home after CHristmas. Whilst I'm glad I've separated them I feel really sad that he's going to have to live on his own for the rest of his life now! I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that the other gerbil doesn't suddenly start attcaking the other two that he's left with. Who'd ahve thought that fighting gerbils would be dominating my CHristmas Eve when I should be sorting stuff out for my children for tomorrow! Happy CHristmas everyone!

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KRITIQ · 30/12/2011 00:46

Hi Jelly. I hope Christmas was good for all of you, gerbils included. Although gerbils are social animals, they can do okay on their own. Because you can't introduce a new one, most will end up on their own for at least some time after a companion dies. You can put their enclosures close together so they can see and perhaps smell each other.

The solo gerbil I had for a few years who was a rescue was in a tank at the end of the Guinea Pig's enclosure, and they used to spend alot of time looking at each other. I suppose it was some kind of company! When the gerbil did die, one of the guineas in particular kept going up to that end and looking - definitely seemed to miss his next door neighbour.

Take good care!

JellyBelly10 · 30/12/2011 21:17

Hi, actually it didn't go too well! The gerbil (Dixie) who's now on his own seems very happy and seems to be recovering pretty well and is now in his new home on his own (but getting lots of attention!). However, the other brown one (Fabio) who was left with the other two (Beaky and Peek-a-Boo) clearly was the agressive onw as he decided to picka fight with Beaky and came off worse, bitten right down to muscle and bone, so had to be put down at the vets! Sad . Beaky was injured but I think was mainly covered in Fabio's blood so looked worse than he actualy was (and worse because he's white). The vet advised that I should thoroughly clean out Beaky and Peek-a-Boo's gerbilarium and get rid of anything that might smell of Fabio, so I've been to the pet shop today buying all new bits and pieces and have scrubbed it out and replaced everything. Beaky and Peek-a-Boo seem ok, but very subdued, just sleeping lots together in their new littled wooden house, not interested in chewing toilet roll holders or being very active at all. But having said that they were very active running all over the room while I cleaned out their cage! Maybe they got worn out from that. So hopefully it's all over, with the two of them living together and Dixie living on his own. I'll make sure Dixie gets lots of human attention every day and comes out of the cage lots so he doesn't get too bored. I can't really have the cages next to each other as they are both pretty big and there isn't really anywhere suitable for them to be side by side. My only concern is that with all the distress that's gone on and all the change, that Beaky (the white one who was attacked but is now doing ok) may behave more aggressively now and attack poor Peek-a-Boo who so far is the only one who's not been in a fight! And my other concern is that Dixie (who now lives alone) is looking perky and active and eating well etc but seems to have opened up some of the wounds again himself, perhaps from over-grooming them? They were all healing up nicely and had dried up but now I can see an area where it seems to be slightly bleeding again. I'll keep an eye on it and if it looks worse I'll go to the vet with him as am worried about it becoming infected. The cost of having Fabio put to sleep was £37 Shock so I could do without another vet bill as have also had to buy the new cage and bottle/bowl, accessories etc for Dixie and all the new stuff to go in the other pair's cage! Anyway, fingers crossed that the dramas may be over...but you never know! I can't believe they lived so peacefully together for sucha long time and now it's all gone so wrong!! Confused Sad

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