Depression in gerbils: 5 causes & 4 care tips
Do you notice that your gerbil seems apathetic and withdraws more and more?
Then depression could be the cause.
In this article you will learn how depression manifests itself in gerbils, what the causes are and what you can do about it.
Can gerbils have depression?
Yes, gerbils can also develop depression. Just like in humans, the reasons can be varied.
It also depends on the character of the gerbil, if it gets depressed under certain circumstances or not. For example, there are animals that cope worse with the loss of a partner animal than other gerbils.
How to recognize depressed gerbils, which causes can be behind it and how you can support your animals in the best possible way, you will learn in the following sections.
What are potential causes of depression in gerbils?
The reasons for depression in your rodents can be manifold. For this reason, we have listed the most common causes below:
Gerbils are extremely social animals and are therefore not suited to spend their lives alone.
Of course you can take care of your gerbil and spend a lot of time with it, but you will never be able to replace a partner animal as a human.
In view of this, gerbils that (have to) live in isolation regularly become unhappy and depressed.
Is your animals’ cage really species-appropriate in terms of size and furnishings?
Do your animals find enough opportunities to occupy themselves?
Do you offer your gerbils variety with new toys so that their brains are stimulated?
If not, your rodents may well become so bored that they become unhappy at first and depressed later.
- loss of the partner animal
Gerbils build deep and intimate relationships with other gerbils.
Thus, it is quite possible that your gerbil will fall into depression if its best friend passes away.
Even then, if your pet has other companions around, the pain and grief of the loss may be so great that the gerbil remains depressed for several days or even weeks to months.
- Prolonged stress
Stress not only makes your pets physically ill in the long run, but also mentally ill.
On the one hand this stress can of course be caused by a wrong attitude, if your gerbil can’t satisfy its needs (sufficiently).
But it can also be that you have placed the enclosure in an unfavorable place in the apartment and your animals are therefore exposed to a constantly prevailing restlessness or even great noise.
This stress can cause your gerbil to react aggressively and after some time fall into depression.
- disharmony and bullying in the gerbil group
Not every gerbil automatically gets along with a partner animal.
Especially if you have a group with several unneutered males, it can quickly happen that it comes to quarrels, mobbing or even biting.
If an animal is ostracized by the others and does not find a connection to the group, depression can be the result.
Therefore, observe your rodents closely to be able to recognize early if a gerbil is not (anymore) integrated into the group.
How to recognize depression in your gerbil
Depression can manifest itself in different ways.
It can be that your gerbil becomes more and more listless and apathetic, refuses food and no longer actively scurries around in the enclosure, gnaws, etc..
It can also happen that the animal becomes particularly belligerent and behaves conspicuously aggressive towards its conspecifics as well as towards you.
If your animal sleeps a lot and this is not due to age or illness, this can also be a sign of depression.
It is best to always look a little closer when you notice sudden or even gradual changes in behavior in your Gerbil.
Of course, there are naturally very active gerbils and those that take it easy – this does not mean that your gerbil is unhappy or suffering from depression!
In the next section, we’ll explain how you can help your pet overcome depression and get back to enjoying life.
4 care tips for depressed and unhappy gerbils
- adapt the enclosure to the needs of the gerbils
Study the natural needs of your gerbils and make sure the enclosure is set up appropriately for the species.
Provide your gerbils with plenty of activity and variety so they can exercise both physically and mentally.
Feel free to change out furnishings to provide new stimuli, arouse curiosity, and draw your gerbil out of its proverbial shell.
The more active your gerbil is, the more comfortable he will feel.
Exercise releases happiness hormones!
- take care for a harmonious coexistence
Does your Gerbil have a best friend by his side?
If no, then you should do everything to change this circumstance.
Of course it is possible that your racing mouse has to be separated from the group for a few days due to illness and is therefore very unhappy, but a healthy animal should always have the opportunity to build deep and intimate relationships.
Minor disputes are perfectly normal and can always occur.
On the whole, however, there should always be a certain harmony within the gerbil group!
- adjust the diet of the gerbils
Food keeps body and soul together and has a great influence on the mental and physical well-being.
Therefore, check the diet of the animals and adjust it if necessary, so that the organism can draw all the important nutrients from the food that it needs for optimal functioning.
Make sure the diet is species-appropriate and varied, avoid pellets and use fresh food instead. Even a small snack in between can increase the well-being of your animal and provide a moment of happiness.
Tip: You can make your own food for gerbils. 4.
4 Eliminate sources of stress
Think carefully about whether your animals might be exposed to unnecessary stress in everyday life.
Maybe the enclosure is placed in a place in the apartment where people constantly walk by.
Especially in the living room there is often a certain level of noise, the TV or radio is on for hours, there is a party with friends on the weekend, the light makes it harder for the animals to sleep, etc.
In this case, let your gerbils move to another place where they can find more peace and relaxation!
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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