why are my gerbils eyes half closed

Why Are My Gerbil’s Eyes Half-Closed?

Have you ever experienced the concern of noticing your gerbil with half-closed eyes, appearing to be either dozing off or uncomfortable? You might worry if it’s sick or unhappy. In reality, there are various reasons why a gerbil’s eyes might be half-closed, some of which are normal, while others require attention. In this article, I’ll introduce common reasons for gerbil’s half-closed eyes, how to determine if it’s normal, and provide the best care for them.

Initial Observation of Gerbil’s Half-Closed Eyes

First, let’s understand the structure of a gerbil’s eyes. Their eyes are relatively large, occupying a significant portion of their heads. Gerbils have excellent vision, capable of seeing both distant and close-up details. Their eyes have three eyelids: upper eyelid, lower eyelid, and a third eyelid, which is a transparent membrane providing protection and lubrication between the eyeball and the external environment. Gerbil eyes are sensitive and prone to irritation and injury.

When you notice your gerbil’s eyes half-closed, observe if there are signs of redness, tearing, discharge, or crusting. These could indicate eye infections or injuries, requiring prompt veterinary attention. Additionally, check for foreign objects like sand, wood shavings, or hair that might be irritating its eyes. Gently wipe its eyes with a damp cotton ball to help remove any debris.

Common Causes of Gerbil’s Half-Closed Eyes

Environmental Factors Affecting Gerbil’s Eyes

Gerbils are nocturnal animals, sleeping during the day and becoming active at night. Consequently, they are sensitive to light, and excessive brightness may cause discomfort, leading to half-closed eyes. Providing a shaded hideout during the day for them to sleep peacefully is essential. Avoid exposing them to strong light at night or using flash photography, as these stimuli can make them uncomfortable.

Gerbils are also sensitive to noise. Loud sounds from sources like TV, music, or vacuum cleaners can make them nervous and fearful, resulting in half-closed eyes. Creating a quiet environment, avoiding noisy activities when they’re sleeping, or providing soundproofing materials like cotton or tissue can help them build a comfortable nest.

Proper ventilation is crucial for gerbils. Poor air quality, exposure to smoke, dust, or chemicals can make them uncomfortable, causing half-closed eyes. Ensure they have a well-ventilated space, clean their cage regularly, and refrain from smoking or using strong cleaning agents near them, as these can affect their respiratory and eye health.

Health Issues Leading to Half-Closed Eyes

Gerbil’s half-closed eyes might be a symptom of health issues such as respiratory infections, abnormal teeth growth, digestive problems, or eye infections or injuries. These problems can affect their overall well-being, causing discomfort and half-closed eyes. Promptly identify signs of sneezing, runny nose, coughing, difficulty breathing, bad breath, drooling, decreased appetite, constipation, diarrhea, swollen eyes, tearing, discharge, or crusting. These could indicate serious health issues, requiring a visit to the vet for examination and treatment.

Age-Related Changes in Gerbil’s Eyes

Gerbils generally live around 2-4 years, and with age, their bodies undergo changes, including their eyes. Aging gerbils may experience blurred vision, decreased eyesight, and half-closed eyes. This is a normal aging process, and as long as they have a comfortable environment and receive sufficient care, they can enjoy their senior years without excessive worry.

Determining if Gerbil’s Half-Closed Eyes are Normal

Observe Gerbil’s Daily Behavior

Gerbils are active and curious animals, constantly exploring and playing. If your gerbil has half-closed eyes but maintains its usual active and curious behavior, it may simply be resting or adjusting to its surroundings, which is normal. However, if the half-closed eyes are accompanied by lethargy, decreased activity, and lack of curiosity, it could indicate health issues that require attention.

Check Appetite and Activity Level

Gerbils are known for their voracious appetite and love for physical activity. If your gerbil has half-closed eyes but continues to eat and exercise normally, it might be resting or adapting to its environment. On the other hand, if the half-closed eyes are accompanied by reduced appetite, decreased activity, refusal to eat, or staying huddled in a corner, it may indicate health problems that need attention.

Look for Other Signs of Health Issues

Half-closed eyes in gerbils could be a symptom of various health problems. Pay attention to other signs such as sneezing, runny nose, coughing, difficulty breathing, bad breath, drooling, decreased appetite, constipation, diarrhea, swollen eyes, tearing, discharge, or crusting. These signs could indicate serious health issues, prompting a visit to the vet for examination and treatment.

Diagnostic Methods for Gerbil’s Half-Closed Eyes

Importance of Veterinary Examination

Veterinarians are trained animal professionals equipped with specialized tools and techniques to conduct thorough examinations on gerbils. They will observe the gerbil’s appearance, behavior, breathing, heartbeat, and use instruments such as stethoscopes, thermometers, and blood pressure monitors to assess its overall health. Veterinarians may also use microscopes, X-rays, ultrasound, and other devices to examine internal organs for abnormalities or injuries. Sampling blood, saliva, tears, secretions, skin, and hair for testing can help identify infections caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi. Dental tools are used to check for abnormal tooth growth or cavities. Instruments such as forceps, scissors, and blades help examine the eyes for foreign objects, wounds, or crusting. Through these examinations, veterinarians can determine whether the gerbil’s half-closed eyes result from environmental factors, health problems, or aging, and provide appropriate treatment plans.

Home Observation and Symptom Recording

In addition to veterinary examinations, we can also observe and record the behavior of gerbils at home, aiding veterinarians in better diagnosing and treating them. Using pen and paper, or a mobile phone and computer, we can document the gerbils’ daily activities, such as their food intake, water consumption, activity levels, sleep patterns, and excretion habits. We should also note any abnormal behaviors, like the duration, frequency, and intensity of their eyes being half-closed, as well as other symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, coughing, difficulty breathing, bad breath, drooling, decreased appetite, constipation, diarrhea, swollen or teary eyes, discharge, crusting, etc. Taking photos or videos to document their appearance and behavior provides veterinarians with a visual representation of the gerbils’ condition. Presenting these records to the veterinarian facilitates a more accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Treatment and Care for Gerbil Half-Closed Eyes

Follow Veterinarian-Recommended Medication

The veterinarian will prescribe medications based on the gerbil’s condition, including antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, pain relievers, digestive aids, and eye medications. These medications help eliminate infections, reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, improve digestion, and address eye issues. It’s crucial to administer the medications as directed by the veterinarian, paying attention to dosage, timing, frequency, and administration method. Additionally, monitoring for any side effects, such as allergies, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, is important. If adverse reactions occur, cease medication immediately and contact the veterinarian.

Provide Appropriate Home Care Measures

Adjust Environmental Conditions

Creating a comfortable environment for gerbils involves avoiding excessive light, loud noises, or poor air quality, all of which can lead to half-closed eyes. Providing a shaded shelter allows them to rest peacefully during the day. Ensuring a quiet environment during their sleep hours, using noise-dampening materials, like cotton or tissue paper, allows them to create a comfortable nest. Maintaining good ventilation, regularly cleaning their cage, and avoiding smoking, using perfumes, or cleaning agents nearby contribute to respiratory and eye health.

Utilize Natural Remedies

Natural remedies can complement gerbil care. Gently wiping their eyes with warm water or saline solution helps remove foreign particles and secretions, reducing eye discomfort. Herbal solutions, such as chamomile, calendula, or lavender, brewed into tea and applied with a damp cotton ball, aid in reducing inflammation and infection, alleviating eye pain. Including foods rich in vitamins A and C, such as carrots, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and strawberries, in their diet supports nutritional balance, immune system strength, and eye health.

Preventive Measures and Long-Term Health Maintenance

Regular Veterinary Check-ups

Scheduling routine veterinary visits ensures comprehensive examinations, allowing early detection and treatment of potential health issues, preventing complications affecting their eyes and overall well-being. Following veterinarian recommendations for preventative treatments, such as vaccinations, deworming, and nail trimming, boosts their immunity and comfort.

Provide Suitable Living Conditions

Offering gerbils a comfortable living space includes selecting a sufficiently large, clean, and well-ventilated cage, placed in a warm, quiet, and shaded location. Providing appropriate toys, chew items, and nesting materials allows them to engage in natural behaviors like playing, chewing, and nesting. Supplying clean water and a balanced diet ensures they can hydrate and eat as needed, maintaining fluid and nutritional balance.

Attend to Gerbil Emotions and Needs

Attending to gerbil emotions and needs contributes to their happiness and satisfaction. Regular interaction, gentle petting, soft spoken words, and occasional treats build trust and a close relationship. Respecting their personalities and preferences prevents forcing them into uncomfortable situations, such as being held, bathed, or having their food changed, ensuring their eye and overall health.


There are various reasons for gerbils having half-closed eyes, some normal and some requiring attention. Timely identification of abnormal behaviors and seeking veterinary care are essential. Providing a comfortable environment and ample care aids in their recovery. Gerbils are adorable and intelligent creatures deserving of respect and care, so let’s work together to create a joyful and healthy life for them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: How can one differentiate between normal behavior and health issues when gerbils have half-closed eyes?

A: Observing gerbils’ daily behaviors, appetite, and activity levels, along with checking for other signs of health problems, helps determine whether half-closed eyes are normal. If gerbils exhibit half-closed eyes but their behavior, appetite, and activity levels remain unchanged, and they are still active and curious, it may be normal rest or environmental adaptation. However, if half-closed eyes are accompanied by decreased behavior, appetite, and activity levels, or other symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, coughing, difficulty breathing, bad breath, drooling, decreased appetite, constipation, diarrhea, swollen or teary eyes, discharge, crusting, etc., they may have health issues that require attention.

Q: Under what circumstances should gerbils be taken to the veterinarian?

A: If gerbils exhibit half-closed eyes, changes in behavior, appetite, and activity levels, or other signs of health problems, it is advisable to take them to the veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. Veterinarians have the expertise and equipment to conduct comprehensive examinations, identify the cause of half-closed eyes, and provide suitable treatment. Administering medications or ignoring symptoms without professional guidance may worsen their condition, posing risks to their lives.

Q: How can optimal eye care be provided for gerbils at home?

A: Providing optimal eye care for gerbils at home involves several steps:

Regularly check gerbils’ eyes for foreign objects, injuries, or crusting, and promptly remove or address any issues.
Gently wipe gerbils’ eyes with warm water or saline solution to help clean and lubricate them.
Use mild herbal remedies, such as chamomile, calendula, or lavender, brewed into tea, dampening a cotton ball and gently applying it to their eyes to reduce inflammation and infection, easing eye pain.
Include vitamin A and C-rich foods like carrots, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and strawberries in gerbils’ diet to supplement nutrition, enhancing their immune system and eye health.
Avoid using any human eye medications or eye creams on gerbils, as these may cause harm or allergies to their eyes.
If gerbils’ half-closed eyes persist without improvement or if other serious symptoms arise, it is crucial to consult a veterinarian for professional treatment.

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