If you are a gerbil owner, you may have wondered what abilities a gerbil has. They are clearly good at burrowing as this is a natural instinct and they are fast on their feet, which is another skill. One activity you may have wondered about is swimming. So, can gerbils swim or not?
Can Gerbils Swim?
In theory, a gerbil can swim as this is a survival instinct that all mammals have. However, they do not swim in the wild unless they are forced into a situation where their only options are to swim or to drown.
Do They Like Water and Swimming?
Gerbils do not like swimming or water. In the wild, they live in arid areas, such as deserts. If possible, they avoid water and only need around a teaspoon of water a day to survive. Swimming is not a natural activity for gerbils and is something they will only do if it is necessary to survive, such as if they were swept away in a flood. Wild gerbils do not have baths in water like humans; they have dust baths, which involves rolling around in dry substances that will remove any excess oils and moisture from their fur and skin.
What Are the Effects of Water on Gerbils?
As mentioned, gerbils drink around one teaspoon of water a day and do not need water for cleaning purposes. Immersing a gerbil in water has several negative effects on its health.
- Skin and fur- Putting a gerbil in water can remove the natural oils and moisture on a gerbil’s fur and skin. This can lead to them suffering from health problems, such as fungal skin infections.
- Immune system- If a gerbil gets too wet, it can cause them severe stress, and this lowers their immune system, which puts them at risk of developing many health conditions.
- Lowering body temperature- Gerbils do not like to get too cold and if they are wet, it can lower their body temperature. Not only does this cause them distress, it can also cause them to catch a cold or to develop pneumonia.
Is It Cruel to Make a Gerbil Swim?
Being in water is not natural to a gerbil and it will cause them extreme stress. They see it as a survival situation and it is never fun for a gerbil to swim. Therefore, this is extremely cruel and not something you should ever try with your gerbils. There are videos on the Internet that show gerbil owners forcing their pets to swim as they think this is funny. This is never an entertaining thing to do and could potentially lead to the death of your gerbil.
Although a gerbil can swim, this is not a natural activity for them and is something they will only do in a survival situation. You should never try to make a gerbil swim as this is a stressful situation for them and getting too wet can cause them to become ill.