why are my gerbils eyes closed

Is your gerbil’s eyes half-closed or fully closed when it sleeps? Are you concerned that this might indicate a health issue for your gerbil? In fact, there are various reasons why gerbil eyes close, and while some are normal, others require your attention and care. In this article, I’ll share knowledge and experience regarding gerbil eye closure, aiming to help you better understand and take care of your gerbil.

Common Occurrences of Gerbil Eye Closure

Gerbil eye closure is a common phenomenon and doesn’t necessarily signify any abnormality. Sometimes, gerbils close their eyes when sleeping or feeling comfortable and relaxed. Gerbil eyes are sensitive organs that react to changes in light and air, so eye closure can also be a protective measure to avoid irritation. Additionally, gerbils may close their eyes when cleaning their eyes or using eye secretions to lubricate their fur. These behaviors are normal, and there’s no need to worry.

Potential Health Issues Related to Gerbil Eye Closure

Gerbil Sleep Patterns

Gerbils are diurnal animals, active both during the day and night, with peak activity usually during dawn and dusk. Their sleep cycle lasts approximately four hours, during which they may wake up briefly before going back to sleep. When gerbils sleep, they often curl into a ball, huddle in a burrow, or lean on their companions. Closing their eyes during sleep is a normal behavior, and there’s no need to disturb them.

How to Determine if a Gerbil is Sleeping

Observe Gerbil’s Breathing: During sleep, a gerbil’s breathing is steady and slow, while when awake, it becomes faster and rhythmic.

Observe Gerbil’s Ears: While sleeping, gerbil ears may droop backward or downward, whereas when awake, they stand erect or forward.

Observe Gerbil’s Nose: A sleeping gerbil’s nose remains relatively still, while when awake, it may twitch and move constantly.

Observe Gerbil’s Reaction: Gently patting the gerbil’s body or using food or toys to attract its attention can help determine if it’s sleeping. Lack of response or delayed response indicates possible sleep, while quick eye opening or signs of excitement suggest wakefulness.

Gerbil Eye Health Issues

Eye Closure: Gerbil eye closure may result from eye infections or allergies causing inflammation, pain, and discomfort. Gerbils instinctively protect their eyes to prevent further irritation or damage.

Watery Eyes: Watery eyes in gerbils may be due to foreign objects or friction irritating the eyes, prompting tear secretion for cleansing and protection. Alternatively, eye infections or allergies can increase tear production.

Purulent Discharge: Pus discharge from gerbil eyes may indicate bacterial, viral, fungal infections, or parasitic infestations. In case of severe external trauma, gerbils may also secrete pus for healing.

Crusty Eyes: Crusty eyes in gerbils can result from dry, hardened skin due to tearing or purulent discharge. Physical injuries like scratches, burns, or frostbite can cause skin damage or scarring, leading to flaky crusts.

Swollen Eyes: Swollen eyes in gerbils may be caused by infections or allergies resulting in redness, swelling, and pain. Mechanical injuries such as impacts, bites, or stabs can cause bleeding, swelling, or discoloration. Gerbils may also develop tumors, cysts, or abscesses, causing eye enlargement, deformity, or hardness.

Bleeding Eyes: Gerbil eye bleeding can occur due to severe physical injuries like violent impacts, cuts, or tears, leading to eye rupture, bleeding, and blindness. Systemic diseases such as hypertension, blood disorders, or clotting disorders can cause vessel rupture, bleeding points, or bruising in the eyes.

Gerbil Living Environment and Eye Health

Selection and Replacement of Gerbil Bedding Material: Gerbil bedding materials are crucial for providing a comfortable sleeping and activity space. Choose safe, non-toxic, dust-free, odorless, soft, absorbent, and breathable bedding materials such as pulp, wood shavings, or cotton. Regularly change gerbil bedding material at least once a week to maintain cleanliness and hygiene, preventing eye irritation or infection.

Cleaning and Humidity Control in Gerbil Living Environment: Regularly clean the gerbil cage and surrounding areas to remove feces, urine, food residues, hair, and other contaminants, preventing microbial infections. Control the humidity of the gerbil living environment to maintain suitable levels between 50% and 70%, preventing the adverse effects of overly dry or excessively humid air on gerbil eyes.

Regular Cleaning and Disinfection of Gerbil Cage: The gerbil cage is the primary living space for gerbils, and its cleanliness and disinfection significantly affect gerbil eye health. Regularly clean and disinfect the gerbil cage, at least once a month, to remove dirt, grease, bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and other harmful substances. Use warm water and soap for cleaning, followed by alcohol or bleach for disinfection, and finish with a thorough rinse and air drying before returning gerbils to their cage.

How to Differentiate Between Gerbil Sleep and Health Issues

Observe Gerbil’s Activity Level and Appetite: During sleep, gerbils exhibit decreased activity levels and appetite, but they still have basic physiological needs like drinking water, eating snacks, and using the toilet. Gerbils with health issues will show a significant decrease or complete loss of activity and appetite, displaying signs of lethargy, refusal to eat, or hiding in corners. Stimulate their appetite by providing fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, or other foods. If gerbils show little or no response, there might be underlying health problems requiring attention and care.

Check for Abnormal Eye Secretions: While gerbils normally secrete transparent liquid during sleep to maintain eye moisture and cleanliness, abnormal secretions such as yellow pus, red blood, or black crusts may indicate health issues. Gently wipe gerbil eyes with a clean cotton or gauze soaked in warm water or saline. If there are noticeable abnormal secretions, gerbils may have health problems that need prompt treatment and care.

In conclusion, understanding your gerbil’s natural behavior, sleep patterns, and potential health issues related to eye closure is crucial for proper care. Regular observation, a clean living environment, and prompt attention to any unusual signs ensure the well-being and happiness of your gerbil. Remember, your gerbil’s health and comfort are top priorities, so always stay vigilant and attentive to their needs.

Gerbil Overall Health Assessment: Closed eyes in gerbils may be a signal of poor overall health. It is essential to conduct a comprehensive assessment of a gerbil’s overall health, including the following aspects:

Weight: Regularly weigh gerbils to track changes. Adult gerbils typically weigh between 60-120 grams. Significant increases or decreases in weight may indicate health issues such as obesity, malnutrition, digestive problems, or parasitic infections.

Body Temperature: Monitor gerbil body temperature regularly. Normal temperature ranges from 37-39 degrees Celsius. Noticeable increases or decreases may signal health issues like fever, colds, or hypothermia.

Fur: Assess the fur regularly. Gerbil fur should be smooth, soft, and glossy. Issues like shedding, breakage, dryness, greasiness, or matting may suggest skin problems, parasitic infections, or hormonal imbalances.

Emergency Situations of Closed Gerbil Eyes:

Complete closure with inability to open: This may result from severe bacterial or viral eye infections, leading to inflammation, ulceration, or suppuration. It could also be due to severe external force or physical damage causing rupture, bleeding, or blindness. Immediate veterinary attention is necessary for professional diagnosis and treatment to prevent further damage.

Unusual swelling or bleeding around the eyes: This may be due to tumors, cysts, abscesses, or injuries, causing abnormal tissue growth, deformity, hardness, or broken blood vessels and infection. Urgent veterinary care is required to prevent additional eye damage or complications.

Extreme tiredness or weakness: This could indicate that eye problems have affected the overall health of gerbils, leading to weakened immunity, energy depletion, and lethargy. It may also be related to systemic diseases like diabetes, kidney issues, or heart disease. Immediate veterinary consultation is crucial for professional diagnosis and treatment.

Prevention and Early Intervention:

Regular veterinary check-ups: Schedule regular veterinary visits for professional eye examinations, including eye pressure measurements, fundus examinations, and eye smears. Annual comprehensive check-ups are recommended, with increased frequency and specific tests based on veterinary advice for gerbils with special conditions.

Provide a healthy diet and adequate water: Balanced nutrition with foods rich in vitamins A, C, and E is crucial for gerbil eye health. Offer clean water daily to maintain eye moisture and cleanliness, using a clean water bottle or bowl to prevent water contamination.

Offer appropriate toys and environmental stimulation: Gerbils are intelligent and curious animals. Provide safe and diverse toys, such as wooden sticks, paper rolls, balls, and hanging decorations. Change cage positions, layouts, sizes, or introduce new food, toys, or companions to stimulate gerbil activity and exploration, promoting eye function and sharpness.


Closed eyes in gerbils can be a common occurrence during sleep or a sign of eye health issues. Prompt observation and judgment are necessary to avoid eye damage or blindness.

Provide a suitable living environment, including a clean, comfortable, and safe cage, a balanced and nutritious diet, and a variety of safe, interesting toys and environmental stimulation to maintain gerbil eye health and vitality.

Regular veterinary check-ups and timely treatment are essential to prevent and intervene in gerbil eye problems. Gerbils are lovely and intelligent pets, and their eyes are windows to their souls, as well as bridges for communication. Care for their eyes with love and attention to keep them bright and happy.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):

Is it normal for gerbils to have partially closed eyes?

Partially closed eyes in gerbils can be normal during sleep or when they feel comfortable and relaxed. However, it could also indicate abnormal conditions, depending on other symptoms and behaviors. If partially closed eyes result from eye infections, allergies, or injuries, attention and care are necessary.

How can you determine if gerbils have partially closed eyes due to allergies?

Allergic reactions in gerbils may present with symptoms such as redness, swelling, tearing, itching, sneezing, and breathing difficulties. Observe the gerbil’s eyes, body reactions, changes in their living environment, and diet to assess whether allergies might be causing the partially closed eyes. Try changing bedding materials or removing potential allergens like pollen, dust, or perfume. If symptoms improve, create an allergen-free environment and provide anti-allergic medications or foods to alleviate discomfort.

What should be done if a gerbil’s eyes are completely closed?

Complete closure of a gerbil’s eyes is a critical situation requiring immediate action to prevent permanent eye damage or blindness. Gently wipe the area around the eyes with a clean cotton or gauze soaked in warm water or saline solution. Hold the gerbil’s head gently with one hand and use the index finger and thumb of the other hand to gently open the eyes. Check for obvious eye damage or infection. If present, seek veterinary care promptly. Apply suitable eye ointment or eye drops to ease discomfort, and consider using transparent eye shields or goggles to protect the eyes from external stimuli or harm.

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