I am new here and after over 15 years of having gerbils, I have never had any problems with severe biting before and need some advice!
I have had Toots & Timba (male) for 4 months (they were 8 weeks old when I bought them) and Timba has recently started to bite me- hard. He has drawn blood severely twice. I am not aggressive towards him and let him come out on to the top of the cage before I pick him up (no grabbing!) He will play happily and let me stroke him for a bit then when I go to put him back in, he bites my finger and won't let go- my god I never knew it hurt so much!
He bites the cage alot and has worn the fur away on his nose. He also jumps alot when I clean him out. Toots is really mellow and nibbles occasionally but never bites me. I have a Gerbilarium with toliet rolls and a log to chew on but maybe he needs something else to satisfy him?
I am really worried as I now feel nervous to pick him up as this is such a sudden change of behaviour. I thought that they were tame but perhaps not. I can't believe that he is aggressive for no reason.
I had a look at the link and was very useful- will be purchasing a glove asap!
I am a bit upset today as he actually attacked me and bit my wrist this morning whilst I was putting toilet rolls in the tank for them today. Don't know what I've done to upset him! Do you think its worth taking him to the vet to get him checked over?
The only times I've been bitten hard enough to draw blood: 1) A gerbil injured her paw and nailed me when I examined it. 2) I was giving a sick gerbil her meds. 3) I had just handled some new gerbils and forgot to wash their scent from my hands. That one was a chomp down hard and hold on tight kind of bite!
The only other thing I can think of is any recent environmental change (noise, smell, vibration, a new pet) that may be making Timba anxious and short tempered.
Hey, no worries. Glad to be of assistance. that website is excellent!
Poor you, it must be so upsetting to be attacked by the pet you're trying to care for and shower affection upon.
maybe the little guy's just got it in his head that you're an enemy and wants you to leave if you've checked him over thoroughly and there's noting else wrong, like qtoffer's mentioned, the hopefully gradual introduction of your hand using the glove should gradually mellow him to you.
How often do you get them out for play time? maybe he's biting when you pop him back in the tank because he doesn't want to go back in there, and wants more exercise???
I agree with the theory that he doesn't want to go back into the tank for one reason or another and that's why he's biting... one of my girls always nibbles me, sometimes a little hard, when I go to put her back away. I just bop her on the nose - that's my standard form of discipline, altho the only time I really use it is for nipping. Obviously you have a little more serious of a problem... so I would say use a glove until he stops biting, and give him a slightly hard bop when he does. Eventually he (hopefully) will figure out he doesn't want the noggin bonking and may stop. In the meantime, the tank is clean, I'm assuming, so maybe he's just bored, or it's too small? Are there any signs of bullying?
Eleanor & Lucy, brought home June 2014 Arthur, March 2015 & Charlie, April 2015 Ivan, Sept 2015
The "first family" - my original babies Dot, July 2011 - Sept 2013, and Boo, July 2011 - Feb 2014 Sid & Geno, September? 2011 - December 2014 Suri, June 2012 - May 2014
Much depends on the gerbil's temperament. The suggestion about cage size is useful to look into. I find that some gerbils simply need a lot more space than others to be happy. Given that he's biting the bars that much, you should probably switch to a large tank or bin with no bars.
Meanwhile, you can avoid the need to pick him up by using a jar. Place the jar in front of him and he'll likely go inside it. Cover the opening and you have a safe way to take him wherever you want. Some gerbils figure out your trick so you have to keep changing the jar
Thanks to everybody for your support so far, its been really helpful to get some expert advice!
I left them to settle at the start as is always advised and they settled into things pretty quickly and seemed to enjoy our company. I would say nowadays I normally play with them at least once a day and talk to them alot! I am considering changing the cage as the bar chewing is relentless- Timba NEVER seems to sleep and is always on the top level chewing away. He takes a swipe at me whenever I go near the tank like he is very angry at me.
We have moved house recently, and they moved around alot when they were little- tank goin in the car etc something I didn't really consider but I guess it might be linked, perhaps he doesn't like the location of the tank too. I think he likes to be up higher so he can look down at whats going on in the house.
Both of them have always been skittish but I put this down to age. Yes, he is a bit of a bully, He is definitely the dominant of the two and Toots gets picked on (bless!) I wonder if he is going through adolescence!
I will try the jar thing too, if he will let me anywhere near. Guess I'm a bit worried about Toots not getting enough attention cos I am so nervous of Timba!