One of the main considerations for many people when deciding which pet to keep is how good they are to handle. Most people want a pet they can interact with in some way and want to avoid pets that are known to bite. If a gerbil is an animal you are thinking about buying, then you have probably wondered whether it is likely to bite you or not and if there are ways to stop a gerbil from biting. Here is what you need to know about gerbils and biting.
Do Gerbils Bite?
Of all the rodents kept as pets, the gerbil is one of the least likely to bite. Therefore, these are some of the best animals to keep if you are worried about being bitten. However, it is possible that a pet gerbil will bite if they feel threatened in some way.
What Causes Gerbils to Bite?
It is rare for gerbils to bite as they are naturally sociable creatures that enjoy interacting with their owners. However, there are some reasons why a gerbil may bite. These include:
- Stress- When a gerbil is feeling stressed, biting is a possible response.
- Pain- If a gerbil is in pain, they cannot communicate this to you. When you are handling them, it may exacerbate the pain. The gerbil may bite to warn you off or to let you know they are hurting.
- Fear- A frightened gerbil can also bite. If they are accustomed to you and you handle them regularly, it is unlikely that your gerbil will feel fear or feel the need to bite. This type of biting is most likely when you first start handling your gerbil.
- Provocation- If a gerbil is severely provoked, they may bite in retaliation. For example, if a child repeatedly pokes a gerbil, then the gerbil may bite in self-defense.
Are Gerbil Bites Painful or Dangerous?
Gerbils have long, sharp incisors. So, a gerbil bite will cause pain as it breaks the skin. This is not a serious injury, but it will remain sore until the wound has healed. The biggest danger of a gerbil bite is developing an infection. Like all animals, gerbils carry bacteria in their mouths and this will transfer to your skin when you are bitten. If an infection develops in the wound, it is possible you will need antibiotics from your doctor.
What Should You Do If You Are Bitten by a Gerbil?
Your initial reaction is probably to drop the gerbil immediately, but you should not do this. Carefully place your gerbil back in its cage before dealing with your bite wound. To reduce the risk of infection, you should wash the affected area immediately and apply some disinfectant or antiseptic cream. Then, cover the bite mark with a plaster or a dressing to stop more bacteria getting into the wound. The wound should heal within a few days without any further problems.
How Can You Tame Your Gerbil to Play with It?
Gerbils are very sociable creatures and are easy to tame as they usually enjoy interacting with their owners. Regular handling will allow your gerbil to become accustomed to you and your smell. Avoiding interaction in the early days of having the gerbil means that you will not develop a bond quickly, so it is important that you take the risk. Most gerbils will not bite, so you should not worry unnecessarily.
However, if you are concerned about being bitten but want to interact with your gerbils, you can try wearing gloves the first few times you handle them. Their teeth are less likely to penetrate your skin if you are wearing gloves and they bite you. This is only a short-term solution that allows the gerbil to get used to being handles. In the long-term you should handle them without gloves, so they can recognize your smell.
Gerbils generally do not bite as they are sociable animals and enjoy their owners interacting with them. However, there are some circumstances that may cause a gerbil to bite, such as pain or extreme provocation. Once a gerbil is used to your smell and has become accustomed to being handled, you should have no problems with your gerbil biting you.