The gerbil’s appearance can be deceiving, and you probably forgot to conduct a little research about the cons of keeping them. Some owners listed biting as an annoying thing about them, but others would see it as a natural behavior of a stressed or triggered creature. The question is, are gerbil bites painful or bearable? Is it a dangerous pet? Let us find out.
Do gerbils bite?
Despite their cute innocent face, these gerbils can bite you too. Their teeth are sharp. That is why their bites could be painful at times. But it depends on how hard they bite you. They can bite hard or give a slightly nip that is moderately painful. Gerbils have very sharp teeth that continuously grow from time to time. You cannot underestimate the sharpness of their tiny little teeth.
Although they are adorably cute, their bite can make you think they are harmful rodents the next day. But do not be too quick to judge, as they can also be one of the must-have pets for you. You just need to know how to react to them.
Understanding Your Gerbils
Gerbils can quickly respond to actions and behavior towards them. The bite depends on how stressed or threatened they are. If they feel like you are handling them inappropriately, gerbils might think you are about to kill them, and they can bite you hard. How much it hurts will depend on the level of your pain tolerance.
However, if the gerbils are only annoyed, they might give you a warning bite. It is giving a sign that they are not comfortable in your presence. When it does not hurt that much, owners called this bite a nip. They usually do it because you are annoying them, like doing things that might irritate them.
Common Reasons Why A Gerbil Bites
We all can relate to a situation when we got bitten. It might be a bite of an insect, a baby, your playmate, and some other creatures that are capable of biting. Gerbils bite too and there’s always a reason for this behavior.
One of the main reasons for gerbil biting is that they use it as a defense mechanism. Gerbils have sharp teeth that they primarily use to attack or escape. However, their claws are short and will not cause any damage because it is not that edgy. So, the teeth are all that they have to defend themselves from possible harm.
Another reason why gerbils bite you is because they do not know you yet. You have not held your gerbil for long. So, they tend to be aggressive because they see you larger than them, and they quickly conclude that you are a threat to them. Gerbils do not like handling them too often.
When you are squeezing your gerbil too harshly, gerbils become irritated. They also do not want too much noise. Talking too loudly while handling your gerbil can stress them out. Another common reason why they bite is they feel scared. When they feel like they are in a suspicious situation, the only way to escape is to bite you.
There are still many reasons why they bite, and it is for you to find out. With proper care, you can prevent them from biting as they are happily contented with what you are giving.
Gerbils only became popular pets in the English-speaking world after 1954, when 20 males and 26 females were brought to the United States from eastern Mongolia for scientific testing. Almost all pet gerbils today are descended from them. Gerbils were brought to the United Kingdom in 1964 from the United States.Wikipedia
How To Stop Gerbil Bites?
We cannot control these gerbils if we don’t know what we are doing. They have their own preferences too, which sometimes make us misunderstand them. It may feel warm for you whenever you’re cuddling with them, but for gerbils, it is a turnoff. Gerbils want to have interaction in some other ways. When they find that they get what they want through their bad habit, then they will remember to bite you as much as they want. To avoid this, you have to follow the tips on how to stop your gerbils from biting or nipping you.
1. Introduce Yourself To Your Gerbil Properly
It is unnecessary to have a conversation between the two of you because obviously, they do not talk. To introduce yourself, you have to spend time near your gerbils. If these rodents only see you typically two times a day, like when you feed and handle them, then you will be just a stranger to them. Gerbils may be scared at first, but they will learn to notice that you are not there to hurt them, but you are present to give the care they deserve. After some time, they will be comfortable having you or seeing you around. Ultimately, they will know that you are the one caring for them.
2. Be Soft-Spoken To Your Gerbil
Avoid talking too loudly. Place your gerbils in an area where they can find peace and feel comfortable. Whenever you are handling them, try to speak softly in an endearing way. Gerbils tend to get stressed hearing loud voices and noise.
3. Do Not Be Angry When They Bite You
Usually, we scream when we got bitten hard. Be patient enough in dealing with your gerbil. Do not show that you are angry after the incident. Remain still and calm as much as possible. This will help in not adding stress to them.
4. Do Not Irritate Your Gerbil
If your gerbil bites you hard, then you are pushing them to their limits. Pause what you are doing and let them free in their cage. Always be sensitive to their feelings.
5. Blow Gently On Your Gerbil’s Face
Gently blow your gerbil’s face. These gerbils do not like when air is blown at them directly. When a gerbil bites you, you have to do that, and that’s it. If you do this frequently, they will avoid biting you. However, you have to practice it with moderation. A study claims that 98% of gerbils can experience seizures when air is blown forcefully right into their face.
6. Push Your Gerbil’s Nose Gently
After your gerbils bite you, gently push their nose. You can also put your finger next to their nose. It will help disengage its bite. However, make sure that you do not put too much pressure when pressing them. Just gently touch them and let them know you are not going to hurt them.
Do Gerbil Bites Hurt?
The only way to know if a gerbil’s bite hurts is when we get to experience it. Some would tell, it doesn’t hurt, and others would say it hurts big time. It just really depends on how you react to it.
Gerbil’s bite will depend on how stressed they have become. Primarily, it has two kinds of bites. One is the real bite, and the other one is the nip. Typically, real bites hurt because they would use their sharp teeth as a defense mechanism. Stressed gerbils can bite you harder than you expected. It is painful and sometimes the wound would bleed. The nip, however, is gerbils’ slightly bite to warn you. They show a little grace before they use their might.
How To React When Your Gerbil Scratches or Bites
The first thing that we do if someone huts us is to be angry or violent by doing the same with them. However, when gerbil bites or scratches you, stay calm as much as possible. Act as if nothing happened. If you scold them, they might nurture their aggression towards you.
Somehow, a gerbil needs to know that biting is not okay. Try to reward them when they change their aggression into submission towards you. You may offer them some cheese or other treats when they show a good behavior. This cute little creature can learn that submission is better than being hostile in the long run.
As much as possible, be patient in understanding everything about them. Do not even dare to hurt these gerbils just because they bite you. To respond with that kind of behavior, you only need to relax, not panic, and be more vigilant.
How To Tame Your Gerbils
Taming gerbils is easy. You can start this practice by pairing them with another gerbil too. A gerbil alone in a cage is more likely to be stressed and frightened when someone is around. However, if they have a companion, their bonding will be a convenient way to interact with people as they are doing it regularly with their cage mate. To further elaborate, here are the steps how to tame your gerbil
- You have to give them few days to adjust to their new environment. It’s tempting to kiss or lift them on the first day that you met them. Make sure that they are already comfortable with you before you handle them.
- Offer sunflower or pumpkin seeds as a treat to them. Whenever they are playing near the cage bars, give them their treats because they would love it.
- Put the treats in your hand through the cage bars. They will tend to step up onto your hand and eat the seeds. It is one way for them to feel secured around you as you are providing them the best possible treats.
- When gerbils show a sign that they are comfortable, you can scratch the sides and back of their head. They feel loved whenever someone gently scratches their head, just like when groomed.
- Do not chase your gerbils if they escape to the cage. Instead of trying to get them back behind the cage bars, offer them their favorite treat. Place it inside, and they will get back to the cage.
- Handle them carefully. If you want gerbils to be well-socialized with people, always spend time with them. If you like to refrain them from doing harmful practices such as biting or nipping, do not always lift them. Some gerbils do not want to be disturbed in their cage (which is quite rare).
- Let your gerbils roam around outside the cage. They are active and curious about their environment. Make sure that there are no harmful nor sharp objects that might hurt them.
How To Get Your Gerbil To Trust You
Gerbils are fragile in almost all aspects. You can quickly notice that they are comfortable with you if they keep playing and doing their common practices actively. When you hold your gerbil, and they do not panic, then you’ve earned their trust. When you want to get their trust, you need to remember these few things:
- Your gerbil needs to learn that you will not do anything that could harm them.
- These little animals should not see you as a threat.
- They have to know that you belong to them, and the same goes for the gerbils.
- These little creatures do not trust you if they don’t enjoy your way of holding them.
- They tend to panic, and worst, it might affect their mental condition.
Before you play together, understand that your gerbil needs time to settle in their new home. They need to get used to your scent. Spend time around them so that your gerbils won’t be scare of your presence.
Hamsters Vs Gerbils – Which Is The Better Pet For You?
Gerbils can be mistakenly recognized as hamsters since they have a lot in common, especially in appearance. These cute-sized animals have their strengths and weaknesses. They both have what it takes to be great animal companions. Wondering which one of them is better for you? Then evaluate yourself as a pet owner. Are you willing to provide for their needs? Can you handle one’s behavior? Is it a pet for you?
If by any chance, you should experience adopting both. However, if you are a beginner, you are required to choose only one. Overall, gerbils are so much more active than hamsters. These gerbils can be fascinating to watch than hamsters. They spend most of their time playing, digging, and exploring. In contrast, the hamster tends to sleep all day. They are barely visible and only show up when it is convenient to them.
Gerbils are the so-called stress reliever as they are giving entertainment. They are playful and loves to climb and roam around the cage. They are indeed enjoyable and fun to keep.
Talking about care, gerbils are no different from other animals. Their pet owner is responsible for making sure that they are receiving the love and affection they deserved. Everything about this rodent is extra special, and everyone will be delighted if they have a gerbil.
Never mind the bites, the scratches, it will just happen in the beginning when they don’t know anything about you. But once they get used to your presence, you can enjoy each other’s company. Generally, you have years of bonding moments together and teaching them the necessary practices they should do.
Taking care of these adorable gerbils is a commitment. You have to be a devoted owner for gerbils as they would do the same. Giving back is their principle. Once they feel complete and contented, expect more surprising discoveries about their behavior.
Gerbils are fun-sized adorable rodents which considered as a pet up to this day. They do well in captivity with proper care and an appropriate well-balanced diet. Gerbils do not look intimidating, not even a bit, mainly because they are fluffy and small. They are too cute, and they effortlessly provide a feeling of excitement whenever we are near them.
Hezekiah is a pet lover since birth, according to his parents. He started writing for the Pets Checklist in 2020. He is fond of playing with and taking pictures of different friendly animals around his neighborhood. He loves to read and write articles about pets, science, and music.