Gerbils are very robust and are rarely ill. They do not require any vaccines, but this does not make them immune to illness. Once a gerbil is sick they can decline very very fast and so veterinary attention is essential if signs of illness are found.
Some signs of illness in gerbils can be:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss (or gain)
- Loose stools
- Ruffled looking fur
- Trouble breathing or "clicking" noises
- Runny nose or eyes
In addition to this gerbils may experience:
- Fits or seizures
- Mites or Fleas
- Abscesses or tumours
More seriously, gerbils are prone to a bacterial infection known as Tyzzer's disease. This is most often spread from gerbil to gerbil or through infected bedding. It is very easily transmitted and is almost always fatal to the gerbil, causing diarrhea and sudden death in the animal. If noticed please take all sterilization precautions and remove infected animals to quarantine to minimize the risk to others. However, if a gerbil gets sick it is also likely his cagemate has also been exposed. As such, Tyzzer's can devastate a kennel and is the main reason we practice strict hygiene routines, quarantine all new and recently travelled animals and are a kennel closed to the public. Please read more about how to quarantine your gerbil here: Best Gerbil Quarantine Practices.
More Reading about Tyzzer's Disease: Merck Vet Manual. Wikipedia. Pet MD.
If illness or injury does occur please seek advice from your veterinarian.