why are my gerbils biting their cage

Why Are My Gerbils Biting Their Cage?

Do you often hear the sound of your gerbils gnawing on their cage? Are you worried that they might harm themselves or damage the cage? Do you wonder why they exhibit such behavior? If your answer is yes, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’ll explain common reasons why gerbils bite their cage and how to prevent and address this issue. Let’s dive in.

Common Reasons for Gerbils Biting Their Cage
Gerbils may engage in cage-biting behavior for various reasons, generally falling into three categories: physiological needs, environmental factors, and psychological factors.

Physiological Needs: Teeth Growth Requiring Chewing
Gerbils, being rodents, continuously grow their teeth. Failure to wear them down promptly can lead to health issues like overgrown or misaligned teeth, infections, and more. Cage biting might occur if gerbils can’t find suitable items for teeth grinding or if they perceive the cage bars as effective for this purpose.

To meet gerbils’ teeth-grinding needs, provide safe items like:

Wooden chew toys such as sticks, blocks, or balls. Ensure they’re untreated and free from paint, dye, or chemicals.
Paper-based chew toys like cardboard boxes, rolls, or tissues. Offer torn paper for them to shred or cut cardboard into small pieces for the cage.
Avoid plastic or toxic chewing items like plastic bottles or rubber toys, as these can pose hazards such as choking or gastrointestinal blockage and may contain harmful chemicals.

Environmental Factors: Small Cage or Lack of Stimulation
Gerbils are highly active and curious creatures, requiring sufficient space and stimulation to fulfill their needs. If the cage is too small or lacks toys and activities, gerbils may become bored or frustrated, leading to cage-biting behavior. This could be an attempt to escape a cramped or dull environment or to seek attention from you for more interaction and stimulation.

To improve the gerbil’s cage environment:

Choose an appropriate cage type and size, favoring glass aquariums or tanks without bars to minimize cage-biting opportunities and prevent spills of bedding or food. Size should be at least 60cm in length, 40cm in width, and 30cm in height. For multiple gerbils, opt for a larger cage or provide two separate ones to avoid conflicts.
Ensure adequate ventilation and temperature in the cage. Regular cleaning to remove feces and urine is essential to prevent odors and bacteria. Keep the cage away from direct sunlight or extreme temperatures to prevent overheating or chilling.
Enhance the cage’s enrichment and stimulation by adding various toys such as running wheels, tunnels, swings, wooden bridges, and houses. Provide natural materials like hay, branches, leaves, or flower petals for them to build and decorate their nests. Rotate or rearrange toys periodically to maintain novelty and challenge.
Psychological Factors: Loneliness or Stress
Gerbils are highly social animals, enjoying companionship, food-sharing, grooming, and warmth with their peers. If a gerbil is alone or experiences discord with its companions, it may feel lonely or stressed, leading to cage-biting behavior. This could be an attempt to seek your companionship and comfort or to release frustration and tension.

To alleviate gerbil’s psychological stress:

Provide suitable companionship by keeping gerbils with their same species or type. Opt for same-sex or neutered gerbils to prevent breeding or competition. Consider personalities and compatibility to avoid conflicts or injuries.
Increase daily interaction and playtime. Regularly engage with gerbils through petting, talking, offering treats, allowing them to sit on your hand or shoulder, etc. Additionally, provide opportunities for them to explore and play outside the cage in a safe room or enclosure. This can boost their vitality, stimulation, and reduce stress.
How to Prevent Gerbil Cage-Biting
Gerbil cage-biting not only negatively affects their health and well-being but also tests your patience and may result in property damage. Early prevention and resolution are crucial to safeguard both you and your gerbils. Here are effective methods to prevent gerbil cage-biting:

Provide Safe Chewing Items: Offer suitable chewing items, as mentioned earlier, to allow gerbils to grind their teeth without resorting to cage-biting.

Enhance Cage Environment: Choose an appropriate cage, ensure cleanliness, and enrich the environment with various toys and activities to prevent boredom and frustration.

Increase Interaction Time: Regularly interact with gerbils, playing and spending quality time with them, to strengthen the bond and reduce feelings of loneliness or stress.

Address Health Concerns: Monitor gerbils for signs of health issues related to cage-biting, such as “bar rub.” Seek veterinary attention promptly if symptoms like redness, swelling, bleeding, or scabbing around the nose and mouth occur.

Gerbils are adorable and intelligent creatures that require proper care and attention for their health and happiness. Cage-biting behavior is abnormal and unhealthy, requiring timely identification and resolution. I hope this article helps you understand the reasons behind gerbil cage-biting and provides insights into methods for you and your gerbils to enjoy a better life. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment; I’ll respond as soon as possible. Thank you for reading and your support.

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