The scent glands of a gerbil are often in focus when it comes to diseases in the small rodents.
Reason enough to dedicate a separate article to this topic.
You will learn:
What scent glands are in gerbils at all.
Why gerbils need scent glands
Which 3 diseases are often detected at the scent glands
How you can best care for the scent glands
What are the scent glands in gerbils?
The gerbil’s scent gland is located on the animal’s abdomen and can be easily seen even with the naked eye when the animal is placed on its back.
It secretes a secretion – consisting of scents and sebum – that is not perceptible to the human nose. Gerbils, on the other hand, perceive this scent very strongly and read important information from it.
Gerbils are very territorial animals and therefore mark their territory. This process takes place with the help of the scent gland.
This way, foreign gerbils know right away: Stop! I have no business here.
As a rule, foreign gerbils now retreat, if there is enough space and thus the possibility to retreat at all, because otherwise there can be fierce fights with the resident gerbils.
Not seldom these fights also end fatally!
But unfortunately the scent gland is also a weak point of the gerbil body when it comes to diseases.
To help you recognize right away when your pet’s scent gland isn’t looking the way it should, we’ll introduce you to the three most common scent gland diseases in the following section.
3 Common Diseases of the Gerbil Scent Glands
Here’s how to recognize inflammation:
Scent gland inflammation is unfortunately not uncommon in gerbils.
As a rule, inflammations of the scent gland primarily occur in male gerbils, which mark their territory a lot and frequently.
It can happen that your gerbil injures the scent gland during this process and therefore the gland becomes inflamed in the further course.
It is easy to recognize an inflammation of the scent gland: You will find blood and pus at the scent gland. Especially if your gerbil brushes itself conspicuously often at the scent gland or even bites into it, your alarm bells should ring.
This is how you treat an inflammation:
If you notice that your gerbil has an injury to the scent gland, your first course of action should be to head straight to the vet. Even if the gland has not yet become very inflamed.
The vet will disinfect the wound and give you an iodine-based ointment to apply regularly to the scent gland.
Be sure to remove relatively sharp furnishings from the enclosure during this time to promote wound healing and prevent the scent gland from becoming repeatedly inflamed.
Follow-up care to prevent recurrences:
Once the inflammation has subsided, it is recommended that you continue to keep checking the scent gland and make sure it stays nice and supple and doesn’t get too dry.
Also, investigate the cause to prevent future injuries.
Also, be sure to take your pet back to your veterinarian to make sure everything is okay with the scent gland. The doctor may also have one or two individual tips for you on how to avoid such inflammations in the future.
- scent gland tumor
How to recognize a scent gland tumor:
If scent gland inflammation is not treated, it is not uncommon for the inflammation to develop into a tumor.
In most cases, the tumor can be felt in the abdomen at an early stage, but in some cases the tumor grows inward instead of outward and can be felt late.
While tumors that grow outward also become visible quite quickly, tumors that grow inward are much less noticeable – but can have fatal consequences if they press on important organs.
Therefore, check the scent gland of your racer at regular intervals.
How to treat a scent gland tumor:
If you suspect that your racer may have a tumor on the scent gland, a trip to the vet is essential.
Depending on how big the tumor already is, usually only a surgical intervention will help.
It is also important to clarify whether the tumor is benign or malignant.
If it is a malignant ulcer, surgery always follows. In the case of benign ulcers, on the other hand, surgery may be avoided if the tumor is ‘conveniently’ located, remains quite small, and also does not involve inflammation or other discomfort.
Follow-up care to avoid recurrence:
Scent gland tumors are the most common tumors in gerbils and it is not uncommon for them to recur.
However, you can take care to always detect and treat inflammation early to minimize the risk of tumor formation.
It is also advisable to check the scent gland daily, especially in the first period after the tumor. However, do not overdo it by pressing on the gland, otherwise the irritation may also cause other complaints.
How to recognize bleeding:
Minor injuries to the scent gland are not uncommon if you have a gerbil that marks a lot.
If you discover fresh or dried blood in the bedding of the enclosure, you should look a little harder for the cause.
Take your animal out of the terrarium and have a closer look at the scent gland. Also move the fur a little bit to the side, otherwise smaller wounds can be overlooked easily. Mainly when a light crust has already formed.
If your gerbil has a fresh wound on the scent gland, treatment is necessary to prevent inflammation.
How to treat bleeding:
If the wound has not yet become infected, chances are good that the scent gland will soon be fully intact.
A trip to the vet is usually not necessary in this case.
To avoid an inflammation, you should disinfect the wound.
To do this, take your gerbil out of the enclosure and turn it on its back so that the scent gland is easily accessible. Ideally, you now have a second person at your side, who carefully disinfects the wound with a piece of Zewa and Octenisept – or another suitable (!) medicine.
However, disinfecting alone is also possible in most cases.
Follow-up care to avoid recurrence:
It is essential that no dirt gets into the wound, otherwise it can lead to inflammation.
Especially the sand bath is a big risk here and should be removed from the terrarium for about 24 hours.
As soon as a stable crust has formed, you can make the sand bath available to your animals again. In any case, check the scent gland regularly to be able to recognize immediately if the wound should open again.
2 Tips: Ideal care for scent glands in gerbils
1: Keep the skin supple
It can be very helpful to rub a too dry scent gland with Bepanthen every now and then to keep the skin elastic and supple.
This way you can prevent injuries a little bit.
Don’t worry, Bepanthen is not harmful to your gerbil. You can also apply the cream to crusts to improve the healing process.
However, you should never put Bepanthen on fresh wounds!
2: Change the setup
If you notice that your gerbils regularly have to fight with bleedings, inflammations or even tumors at the scent gland, then it makes sense to take a closer look at the arrangement of the enclosure.
It is possible that in some places – primarily on sharp, gnawed wooden corners, etc. – dried blood stains can be found, which may indicate that your gerbils injure themselves here particularly often.
If this is the case, you should remove the object in question and replace it with something else.
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