Gerbils are relatively healthy animals. However, it is a good idea to monitor your gerbil's condition and behavior daily. There are early warning signs that may indicate illness. These include weight loss; decreases in activity; changes in the appearance of the fur; and a change in the color, consistency, smell, or amount of urine or feces. If any of these changes occur, it is best to bring your gerbil to a veterinarian.
Because gerbils' incisor teeth grow continuously, they need to constantly chew and gnaw to keep these teeth worn down. Overgrown teeth can cause lack of appetite and weight loss. Several varieties of chew toys are available; small rope and wood parrot toys are good choices for gerbils. Scrap lumber, as long as it is untreated, is another inexpensive option.
Last full review/revision July 2011 by Katherine E. Quesenberry, DVM, MPH, DABVP (Avian); Kenneth R. Boschert, DVM, DACLAM