3 Ways to Trim or Wear Down a Gerbil's Teeth and Claws
Why You Need to Manage Your Gerbil's Claws and Teeth
A gerbil's teeth and claws are always growing and getting longer. A lot of people will just let them grow and will never stop and think how this is affecting their pet or the relationship they have with their gerbil.
While longs claws and sharp teeth can be painful to the handler of the gerbil, that's not what is wrong with letting your gerbil's claws and teeth grow long. Gerbils can get sick and even injure themselves if they have overgrown claws and/or teeth. This is dangerous—this means that you NEED to prevent a gerbil's teeth and claws from growing too long.
The 3 Most Common Methods
We all know that cutting a gerbil's claws is time-consuming and can be painful to both the gerbil and the tender. Because of this, we avoid this activity at all costs. On the other hand, handling gerbils becomes harder when their claws and teeth are long, leading to improper care.
What a lot of people don't know is that there are easier ways to clip a gerbil's claws and wear down their teeth. The answer to this is so simple that I've seen many people do the "duh" reaction once they found out!
1. Nail Clippers for Gerbils
While these are probably the most difficult option for clipping a gerbil's claws, most people choose them. There are different kinds of nail clippers; the ones made for cats and small dogs will not work for your gerbils. Another thing people try to do is use human nail clippers, which is also not a good idea. The nail clippers you want are the ones that are labeled as "Nail Clippers for Small Animals" or "for Rodents."
There are some brands that clip like normal clippers, but there are better brands that actually wear down the nails instead of clipping them and causing damage or pain to the gerbil. If you are going to use nail clippers, I suggest using the ones that wear away the gerbil's claws instead of clipping them.
2. Sandpaper Floors
Try putting down sandpaper or similar gritty surfaces on the shelves and bottom of the gerbil's cage. Doing this will force the gerbils to walk across it, resulting in the gerbil's claws wearing down. While this is a wonderful way to keep the gerbil's claws shorter, it has some drawbacks:
- The sandpaper would need to be changed once a week along with the rest of the cage. That in itself can get expensive quickly and also difficult.
- A lot of gerbils will go under the sandpaper if it's not weighted down in some way.
- It get uncomfortable to walk on ALL the time; how would you like that? This is why the entire cage should not be filled with sandpaper like I have seen so many times before.
3. Wood Blocks
Another thing people do is to put in a brick or wood block the gerbils can climb over and gnaw on. This way, the block of wood or brick will wear down both their claws and teeth. This is an okay method, but one of the drawbacks is that some gerbils will avoid these blocks and chew toys, actually never touching them.
What I Recommend: A Mixture of the Above
Here's what I recommend: It has worked best for me to have a little bit of sandpaper on part of the cage, and then I put in chew toys, blocks of wood, and/or a brick.
My gerbils also like to chew on sticks from outside. As long as you make sure that you avoid apple branches and pine branches and that the branches you bring in for the gerbils have been washed with clean water, dried, and frozen in the freezer overnight to kill any bugs or bug eggs that may be in or on the branch . . . you're all good!
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.