Hello, Recently, I took my gerbils for a check-up. I'm not currently concerned that they'll declan, as they're brothers and get along quite well, but I did bring it up with the vet. He said that I could split the cage if that happens or take them in to get neutered. The latter option surprised me because I hadn't heard of it before. Would neutering really allow them to continue living together after a declan? Additionally, I had only ever heard of completely separating gerbils following a declan, not just splitting the cage and letting them continue living that close to each other; is that an option as well? thanks!
Yea I've not heard of that for a declan either! My vet told me the other day that the risk of a small animal not coming out of anaesthetic (for removing a gallstone from the bladder) is as high as 25%! Perhaps it might not be so bad for neutering? But I wonder what sort of risk it is for that?
As for a declanned pair living in a permanent split, yes it can work, my boys (brothers) are doing fine like that (after declanning just over a year ago). See my boys & others experience here.
Yes, I agree, I haven't heard of this as a suitable option - but we are still learning what happens to males and their perceived 'community' status with a neuter. Until we know more about it - I wouldn't assume it would be any different from 2 strangers (once they had been apart for a while to recover) - although there is always a risk that they would still remember that they didn't like each other!
A lot of charities now neuter males as standard and I haven't heard that they have any issues with the success rate - but then an 'outer cavity' procedure is always a much lower risk and castrates for most species are super straight forward (compared to those that enter the main body cavity). They are also over quicker so the reduced time they are sedated also helps too.
Post by LilyandDaisy on Dec 22, 2022 14:32:21 GMT -8
I would be curious to know if your vet is speaking from experience of other customers who have had their gerbils neutered as a solution to declanning, or whether he is perhaps extrapolating from other animals such as rats.
Hormonal aggression is common in male rats and it's caused by either too high testosterone levels, or at least testosterone levels that are incompatible with our way of keeping rats in captivity (wild rats with high testosterone are probably more likely to be living with females than with other males, where high testosterone may not be an issue). So if the cause is testosterone, it makes sense that a testosterone-lowering procedure would help.
On the other hand, I don't think it's clear at all whether testosterone levels are a factor in male gerbil declanning. I've known male gerbils who were very dominant to the point of bullying, which I assumed could be related to testosterone, but that doesn't necessarily lead to declanning. Declanning is actually quite a different scenario to a gerbil being over-dominant. Declanning is a dispute over dominance or a change in dominance that results in a gerbil being expelled from the clan. A gerbil can be a bully and as long as the others put up with it, the clan can be quite stable.
Neutering a gerbil in the over-dominance scenario seems risky. Okay, the bully has been hormonally altered, but he might still remember when he was boss, and is he going to be happy to be demoted? I'm not sure. If you've got a group of males and you neuter the boss, you've potentially created a power vacuum which is exactly how a declan can happen.I
In practice, I've never heard of a successful bonding (or rebonding) between an intact male and a neutered male, and I've heard of enough cases where it resulted in the neutered male being badly attacked to believe that it's a very bad idea.
You could neuter all the gerbils in a clan, but then I wonder whether "levelling the playing field" hormonally might not cause issues. It's possible that naturally higher or lower testosterone levels in different gerbils are important for clan stability. On the other hand, they might not care about dominance once neutered, though, female gerbils have low testosterone levels and they still care very much about dominance.
That's just my speculation. Neutering gerbils to help with declanning is really not something people commonly do so it's impossible to be certain what effect it would have.
Interesting! I will make sure to ask my vet next time for more information about his experiences regarding gerbil neutering. Overall, it looks like a permanent split or introducing new gerbils through a temporary split is a better option in case of a declan. Thank you for all of your answers!
Very thoughtful comments LilyandDaisy - as always - and certainly refocusses the reasoning behind it from our existing gerbil knowledge.
In my comments above I was assuming both males would be neutered rather than just one although perhaps I hadn't clarified that suitably. I certainly wouldn't have thought that only one of them being neutered would have made for a good re-introduction for them - but having both neutered and then having some time apart could have changed their outlook on life (like when older gerbils don't really mind pairing up with almost anyone else old).
Although the clarification that one neuter:one entire male bondings never work - it almost seems counter intuitive visually for charities to do that as standard? Surely this means that they are only really making the males suitable to live with females - which down the line could lead to misinformation being passed down by word of mouth about cohabiting males and females - and get them super bullied. Hmm. I wonder if charities were the origins of this line of thought (getting males neutered) or whether it came from a vet or vets who are branching out more into exotics.