How To Help Depressed Gerbils

Updated on May 29, 2009
Image credit... Google Images? heh.. LOL!
Image credit... Google Images? heh.. LOL!

My Gerbils Depressed... What Do I Do?

Do you have a gerbil that seems depressed? Depression is not only common among people these days but also can apply to animals/pets in this case regarding gerbils.

Let me first state that having a depressed gerbil does NOT make you a bad owner, and there are easy fixes for your gerbil's depression. If you suspect your gerbil is depressed but are unsure I will also list some warning signs of depression in a gerbil.

Is My Gerbil Depressed? I Can't Tell!

If you are unsure if your gerbil is depressed then this part is for you. :) Gerbils are overall social animals, and love to be out and about, run around... and often times once tamed love to handled by people.

However, just because you gerbil doesn't run around their cage, love people and to be held... loves to come out and activities such as that doesn't mean that your gerbil is depressed, this could mean that the cage is in the wrong place or that your gerbil is not yet tamed/ used to you.

Some Signs

Here are some signs that your gerbil may be depressed or verging on depression:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Constantly laying down/doesn't move often
  • Doesn't drink a least once a day
  • Will not care if picked up and held Is limp and doesn't start getting excited/move a lot when held.

It is normal and natural for gerbils to start moving and run around when being held, they are excited... this doesn't always mean they are trying to get away. If they don't move, if your gerbil sits perfectly still or lies down they are most likely either depressed or sick. Sickness could include symptoms like:

  • Excessive sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Excessive scratching
  • Lack of appetite Loss Or Weight
  • Bare patches where there should be fur
  • Small bugs in the fur Not bathing/Looking ragged

For things like this I suggest either googling your gerbil's symptoms or taking your gerbil to a veterinaring.

So, My Gerbil Is Depressed, What Do I Do?!

If you have a depressed gerbil than a few things should fix the gerbil's depression quite easily actually! So there's really no need to fret over it. ;)

While I would like to tell you one thing for you to do I can't tell what you do for your gerbils, how you care for them or what the gerbil's personality is like, therefore I can give you some of the most common reasons a gerbil can become depressed and how to fix them.

Gerbils like to be held, like to be in an active environment, and have activities for them to participate in! Lack of entertainment is the most common reason for gerbil depression, if the gerbil is in an empty cage, in a closed off room or never gets human interaction the gerbil will often become depressed, gerbils being social animals love interaction, and also love to try new things and keep themselves busy. A Combo of gerbil toys, paper boxes paper tubes, human interaction, and good placement for a gerbil cage, and being held will always fix this type of depression!

Easy Toy Choices!

For Easy Gerbil Toys a couple suggestions are:

  • Paper towel tubes
  • TP tubes
  • Cereal boxes
  • Shredded paper, newspaper/white paper/brown paper are all fun!

Also things like Bird Perches (for some gerbils) hide outs edible logs Chew sticks, Cleaned sticks from outside to climb on are all great toys for gerbils as well.

Cage Placement...

For cage placement, if your cage is in a bad place gerbils will get depressed... I wrote a Hub about the placement of your Rat Cage, even though it is written for rats gerbils are just as social and it can work for both gerbils, rats and hamsters,  I suppose I should've specified that huh?

Read about choosing the correct place for a gerbil's cage/rat's cage/hamster cage/ These are the only rodents this guide works for, please don't apply to other rodents as they have different care requirements. :) Read It, Here!

Handling Gerbils For Depression...

Now about handling gerbils, they love it! However if the gerbil bites, scratches excessively etc then they gerbil may not be tamed, most are not when you get them from a pet store. I can give you some basics on taming a gerbil but that's another hub! :)

  • Talk to them through the cage
  • Hold Them, Once a day for 10-15 minutes, with a towel if they bite.
  • Make sure you have good cage placement.

My Gerbil Is Always Hiding, Does That Mean It's Depressed?

Note: Some gerbils just do not have a very social personality, and like to hide... this doesn't mean they are depressed. It is most likely the gerbil had a traumatic experience with humans when it was young or  some such thing, while I would recommened at least trying them taming process... it doesn't always work... don't beat your self up about it.

Hubchallenge Hub 22! Ohhh I think I might scale back my goal to 30 hubs ya'll!

Questions & Answers


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        Teenaged girl 17 months ago

        Just yesterday my gerbils sister died and my gerbil is not used to not having her sisters company around while I'm at school, she looks depressed. I don't know if these techniques will work, do you have anymore recommendations or tactics I could use

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        Awesomeness 23 months ago

        Omg! Thank you so much! I'm a kid and I put my Gerbil in my mom's room because it was bitting it's hampter wheel (Don't know if that's normal...) anyways, I put her in my mom's room and ever since I put her in there she dug a hole in the hamster bedding and she always hides in there now. I love her so much and it just made me sad to see her so sad too so I looked this up in my free time and you said that the cage could be in the wrong place. SO, I took her back into my room and now she's happier than ever. I guess she's used to my room and I will do anything for her as long as she is happy. Even if that means listening to her bitting her hamster wheel. Thank you so much!

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        Marlies Vaz Nunes 3 years ago from Amsterdam, the Netherlands

        Nice hub, enjoyed it!