The world of small mammals is a very gentle world. Gerbils, cousins of hamsters, are no exception, and a loving relationship looms with them. Although not having a miniature size with its dimensions between 10 and 20 cm, their handling still requires precautions.
Time, attention and gentleness
It’s totally understandable that you can’t wait to be able to cuddle your gerbil. But you will have to temper your ardor if you want to achieve your ends. Because you will first have to convince your new pet that you are not an enemy or a potential source of danger.
Then, like all animals, your gerbil has its own character. Before you touch her, you will observe her and get to know her. You will thus be able to know how quickly to develop your relationship and when it will be the right time to take a new step and arrive to caress it.
You must constantly keep in mind that it is not you who will decide to stroke your gerbil but that it is she who will accept or not to be handled and touched. Even if the configuration of the animal in the cage suggests that we are the “masters”, the only control that you really have is that of your behavior towards your small mammal: you must be gentle and attentive to send him positive signals.
The good news is that the gerbil is an animal that enjoys being handled once it has been tamed. This is because a gerbil does not cope with loneliness, therefore appreciating any signs of attention you may have for it. However, you alone, or even your family, will not be enough for him. It is essential to welcome two gerbils together (by first finding out about the possibilities of cohabitation between the sexes).
Welcoming your gerbil
Arriving in your home, the gerbil needs time to familiarize itself with its environment. Instinctively, she will be fearful since she is plunged into an unknown world. Without isolating the cage in a separate room, which would only delay the discovery of the environment in the broad sense, that is to say including the life of the home, take a few precautions as a welcome: avoid splinters of voices and noises.
You will find that your gerbil’s life is organized into waking and sleeping phases that can last up to 5 hours. When your gerbil is resting, you must absolutely leave it in peace, otherwise its rhythm could be disturbed, contributing to develop its aggressiveness due to its discomfort.
Approach your gerbil
When you notice that the gerbil is busy in its space, it is because it has taken its marks. You will be able to consider approaching him.
Pick a time when the animal is active, turn off the phone or do not answer any calls, and place your hand in the cage, comfortably seated, a treat in your palm. You just have to wait for the rodent to approach.
The goal is not to grab the animal but to let it smell you so that it integrates your scent and recognizes it. If the sense of smell of mammals is a generally developed sense, that of the gerbil is all the more important that his sight and hearing are not very good.
Caress your gerbil well
When the gerbil has acquired the habit of eating from your hand, you can finally test the possibility of petting it. This is done without imposing on you, but rather as a proposition that the gerbil could decline. Beforehand, you must give the animal enough time to smell you.
The first caresses are an exploration. If you can test other areas later, especially when you and your gerbil have developed a good bond, you will start by testing the areas of the back, top of the head, neck and behind them one after the other. ears, each time observing your gerbil’s reactions.
A gerbil that shows its disapproval is a gerbil that folds in on itself. If she wants to run away, let her slip away, don’t force her. Try to analyze the situation: context, position, caressed area, etc. to proceed differently on the next attempt.
On the other hand, if, under your caresses, the gerbil stops moving while remaining relaxed, it is probably that she appreciates.
Do you need to use gloves?
The fear of a bite can tense you, make you tremble, or encourage clumsiness. It is important to relax and take care of your movements, especially during the first contacts.
Gloves are not recommended. For small gerbils, the likelihood of squeezing too hard is great. In addition, as we saw above, it is essential to give the gerbil time to smell you in order to identify you. If you wear gloves, you will not allow it, the smell of gloves constituting a novelty and therefore a source of tension and worry.
For the same reasons, it is not recommended to use too much perfume as this could make it difficult for your little companion to identify your body odor.
It is therefore best to run the risk of a bite that ultimately has a low probability to occur if you respect a progressive contact rhythm, without forcing the animal.
If you still get bitten by your gerbil, even superficially, it is best to disinfect the wound immediately. Rodent teeth are indeed carriers of many germs that can cause infection. Washing with water and Marseille soap, following the application of a disinfectant will be sufficient in most cases to eliminate any risk. If the wound does not improve in the following days, do not delay in seeing a doctor.
How to wear your gerbil well
When you and your gerbil are used to petting, you will be able to try babywearing. As with hugs, first give her time to feel you.
Then, nothing is simpler: you slip between two and four fingers, depending on the length of your gerbil, under the belly of the animal. The thumb, itself, closes on the back of the animal, like a belt. You make sure the animal accepts the situation before lifting it. A fall would be fatal to him.
You must bring your pet the feeling of security. The best way to do this is to slide the second hand in support under its paws, the thumb remaining available to stroke the back. Bring the animal closer to you, which further limits falls. Always measure your strength and proceed gently.