why gerbils blink

Why Do Gerbils Blink?

Have you ever noticed your gerbil blinking? Blinking is a common behavior in gerbils, but the reasons and significance behind it may not be widely known. Gerbil blinking is not just a physiological response; it’s also a form of social communication, expressing the gerbil’s emotions, needs, and attitudes. This article will unravel the mysteries of gerbil blinking, providing insights to help you better understand and care for your furry companion.

Physiological Reasons for Gerbil Blinking

Gerbils have highly sensitive eyes that require regular lubrication and cleaning to prevent dryness and infection. The frequency and intensity of gerbil blinking depend on the condition of their eyes and the environmental factors.

For instance, in dry or dusty environments, gerbils blink more frequently to keep their eyes comfortable. When gerbils have foreign objects or discharge in their eyes, they blink more forcefully in an attempt to clear them.

While the physiological reasons for gerbil blinking are not complex, it reflects the overall health of the gerbil. If you observe excessive or forceful blinking, or if there are abnormal signs such as redness, swelling, tearing, or discharge in your gerbil’s eyes, promptly check for eye-related illnesses or other health issues and seek veterinary assistance.

Social Significance of Gerbil Blinking

Another crucial aspect of gerbil blinking is its social significance. Gerbil blinking serves not only as a physiological response but also as a means of communication, expressing the gerbil’s emotions, needs, and attitudes. The meaning of gerbil blinking depends on the manner and context of the blink. Here are some common social meanings of gerbil blinking:

Blinking signifies trust and comfort. When a gerbil blinks at you, it indicates trust, safety, and relaxation. This warm signal suggests that you have established a good relationship with your gerbil. You can respond to its blink to convey your love and respect.

Blinking indicates curiosity and interest. If a gerbil blinks at an object or action, it shows curiosity and interest. This adorable signal indicates that your gerbil is an intelligent and lively creature. You can use its blinking to guide exploration and learning.

Blinking signals plea and request. When a gerbil blinks at you, it may be pleading for attention or help. This pitiful signal reveals that your gerbil is reliant on you. Respond promptly to fulfill its needs and expectations.

Gerbil blinking not only facilitates communication among individuals of the same species but also establishes a connection with humans. Gerbils express their feelings and attitudes toward humans through blinking, observing human eye expressions and blinks to understand human intentions and emotions. Gerbil blinking is an effective cross-species communication method, fostering intimacy and friendship between you and your gerbil.

Relationship between Gerbil Blinking and Social Structure

Gerbils are social animals that need close contact with conspecifics to maintain stable and harmonious social order. Within gerbil social structures, there exists a hierarchical system, and gerbils establish and display their positions and authority in various ways. Gerbil blinking plays a significant role in gerbil social interactions. Here are some examples:

Blinking indicates submission and respect. When a gerbil blinks at a higher-ranked peer, it signifies submission and respect. This humble signal demonstrates that the gerbil recognizes its position and avoids challenging or offending the higher-ranking individual. Such blinking helps maintain peace and order among gerbils.

Blinking signifies provocation and threat. If a gerbil blinks at a lower-ranked peer, it may be provoking or threatening. This arrogant signal indicates that the gerbil wants to display its dominance or intends to attack or drive away the lower-ranking individual. Such blinking can lead to conflicts and struggles among gerbils.

Blinking signals invitation and recruitment. When a gerbil blinks at an equally ranked peer, it may be inviting or recruiting. This friendly signal suggests that the gerbil wants to cooperate or play with the peer. Such blinking enhances unity and friendship among gerbils.

Gerbil blinking plays a crucial role in the social structure of gerbils, helping them establish and maintain their positions and relationships, influencing their behavior and decisions. Gerbil blinking is a complex social signal that reflects the gerbil’s psychological and social state.

How to Make Your Gerbil Blink at You

If you want your gerbil to blink at you, the first step is to build trust. Trust forms the foundation of your relationship with your gerbil, and without it, your gerbil won’t develop any emotional connection or trust in you. There are various ways to build trust, such as:

Regularly interact with your gerbil, offering gentle strokes and appropriate treats to show your care and affection.
Respect your gerbil’s personality and preferences, avoiding forcing them to do things they don’t want to do, and letting them feel your understanding and respect.
Provide a comfortable and secure environment for your gerbil, offering enough space and toys to make them feel cared for and protected.
Once trust is established, you can interact with your gerbil through blinking. Here are some methods to make your gerbil blink at you:

When making eye contact with your gerbil, slowly blink once and maintain eye contact, waiting for its response. If it blinks back, congratulations, you’ve established a special connection. Repeat this action to deepen your bond.

When your gerbil blinks at you, respond to its blink with a blink, a smile, or a kiss to express your love and appreciation. This will make your gerbil feel your response and encouragement, increasing the frequency and intensity of its blinking.

When your gerbil blinks at you, fulfill its needs or expectations based on the meaning of its blink. For example, if it seeks your attention or help, provide it with attention or assistance to make it feel satisfied and happy. If it expresses curiosity or interest, give it something fresh or interesting to make it excited and joyful.

Of course, pay attention to how your gerbil’s personality may influence its blinking reactions. Different gerbils may have different blinking habits and preferences, so adjust your blinking style and frequency according to your gerbil’s characteristics.

For instance, some gerbils may be more introverted or shy, and they may not enjoy blinking, or their blinking frequency and intensity may be lower. Don’t force them; instead, give them more time and space to gradually adapt and trust you.

Some gerbils may be more extroverted or lively, and they may enjoy blinking, or their blinking frequency and intensity may be higher. Don’t ignore them; instead, give them more attention and stimulation to make them feel happy and satisfied.

Title: Possible Reasons Why Gerbils Don’t Blink

If you notice your gerbil isn’t blinking, there’s no need to worry immediately. First, identify the possible reasons behind their lack of blinking and then take appropriate measures. Here are some potential reasons:

As mentioned earlier, gerbils may have different blinking habits and preferences. Some gerbils may naturally blink less or with lower intensity, reflecting their unique personalities. This doesn’t imply unhappiness or distrust; it’s simply a characteristic. Instead of forcing them, respect and understand them, focusing on recognizing other signs of contentment.

Adaptability to the environment is crucial for gerbils. When placed in a new or unfamiliar setting, gerbils might temporarily blink less or with lower intensity. This behavior helps them stay alert and explore their surroundings. It doesn’t indicate discomfort or insecurity but showcases their self-protective and adaptive nature. Allow them time and space to gradually acclimate to the new environment without disturbance.

The health condition of gerbils can influence their blinking behavior. If a gerbil is sick or injured, they may blink less or with lower intensity as a way to conserve energy for recovery. This is a serious signal, indicating they need assistance and care. Promptly check their physical condition, seek veterinary help, and provide appropriate treatment and care.

Based on the reason behind your gerbil’s lack of blinking, take corresponding actions. If it’s due to their personality or environment, refrain from pushing or disturbing them. Instead, respect and understand them, offering more time and space for them to naturally blink. In case it’s a health-related issue, don’t ignore or delay assistance. Provide thorough care, attention, and seek professional help to ensure their speedy recovery.

Other Signs of Gerbil Happiness

While blinking is a significant indicator of happiness, it’s not the only one. Gerbils express contentment through various signals, including body language and behaviors. Here are some common signs of a happy gerbil:

Relaxed Body Language: A content gerbil may lie down or stretch comfortably, signaling satisfaction with their environment and companions.

Playful Activities: Happy gerbils often engage in joyful activities like jumping, running, chewing, and digging, indicating excitement and pleasure in their lives.

Affectionate Behavior: Gerbils may lick, groom, or share with each other harmoniously, revealing a sense of friendliness and intimacy.

Vocalizations: Content gerbils may produce high-frequency squeaks or low-frequency purring sounds, expressing happiness and satisfaction with their emotional state.

Active Interaction: Happy gerbils willingly approach and interact or cooperate, showcasing trust and collaboration with their owner or fellow gerbils.

Healthy Habits: Regular eating, proper elimination, and balanced sleep patterns indicate a gerbil’s overall health and well-being.


Gerbil blinking is a meaningful behavior with both physiological and social significance. It serves as a mode of communication for expressing emotions, needs, and attitudes. Understanding gerbil blinking enhances the bond between owners and their gerbil companions.

Additionally, gerbil blinking is intertwined with their social structure, helping them establish and maintain hierarchical positions and relationships. While gerbil blinking is a crucial happiness signal, it’s not the sole indicator. Recognizing other happiness signals allows for a more comprehensive understanding of a gerbil’s emotional state.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is it healthy for gerbils not to blink?

Gerbil blinking is a normal and healthy behavior, aiding in maintaining eye moisture, cleanliness, and expressing emotions and needs. The frequency and intensity of gerbil blinking depend on eye conditions, environmental influences, personality traits, and social states. The occasional variation in blinking frequency and intensity doesn’t necessarily reflect the gerbil’s health status. However, if gerbils blink excessively or with unusual force, or if there are abnormalities in their eyes, it might indicate eye diseases or health issues, requiring prompt examination and treatment.

How to determine if a gerbil is happy?

Gerbil happiness extends beyond blinking and involves various other signals. Observing their body language, behaviors, and vocalizations helps gauge their contentment. Signs of a happy gerbil include relaxed body language, playful activities, affectionate behavior, vocalizations, active interaction, and maintaining healthy habits. By recognizing these happiness signals, owners can more accurately assess their gerbil’s emotional well-being and enhance their overall happiness.

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