Common Gerbil Allergy Symptoms

  • Author: Meighen McIntyre
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Keeping your pet gerbils healthy and safe is the number one responsibility you have as a pet owner. Knowing what symptoms to look for is a great place to start. What are the common gerbil allergy symptoms?

Gerbils have allergies just like humans. Signs of allergies can include a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing. While these are very popular symptoms of allergies, they can also be symptoms of other problems. 

The Else Could The Symptoms Be?

Allergy symptoms in gerbils appear as a runny or red nose, watery or crusty eyes, sneezing, and wheezing. These are all also symptoms of an underlying condition. 

Cold

If your gerbil is wheezing, sneezing, or has a runny nose, they could have a cold. Have you had a cold recently? If you handled your gerbil while you had a cold, chances are you’ve passed your cold onto them. 

The temperature could also be too cold for your gerbil. If you have their enclosure in front of an air conditioner or draft, simply move your gerbil to a different area so they can warm up. 

Eye Infection

If your gerbil’s eyes are red, puffy, or runny, it could be allergies, or it could be an eye infection. Eye infections are usually caused by an intrusive item in their eye socket, This irritates the eye causing it to weep and leads to the infection. 

If you think your gerbil has something in its eye, don’t try to take it out yourself. The best thing you can do for your gerbil is to take it to the vet. 

Respiratory Infection

If you think your gerbil might be wheezing because of a respiratory infection, you should also look for signs of runny nose, coughing, sneezing, fever, and a lack of appetite. 


Once you find a gerbil who shows signs of a respiratory infection, isolate them from your other gerbils if they have been living in the same enclosure to avoid a spread.

You should also make sure you are giving your gerbils the right kind of bedding (don’t give the pine or cedar), and check that the humidity in the room isn’t too high. 

Nasal Dermatitis

If your gerbil’s nose is red, it could be nasal dermatitis. It’s usually very sore, swollen, and itchy, so it’s easy to see. 

Nasal dermatitis in gerbils is caused by an overproduction of porphyrin, a liquid that looks like blood. This liquid keeps the eyes moist, helps to maintain their body temperature, and contains pheromones that help them attract a mate. 

Overproduction of porphyrin usually starts with an allergy, stress, or an infection.

Before taking your gerbil to the vet, try cleaning and sterilizing their enclosure, changing the type of bedding you use, and make sure their environment isn’t too hot or too cold and has less than 50% humidity. 

How Do You Know If It’s Allergies?

So how do you know if your gerbil has allergies, or if it could be something more serious? You don’t. The best thing you can do for your gerbil is to take them to a vet, especially one that has experience with rodents.

They can provide antibiotics, pain medication, or even operate on your gerbil if absolutely necessary to help them. 

Luckily,  there are a few steps you can take at home before taking your gerbil to the vet. Keep in mind that if you don’t start to see improvements after a couple of days, a visit with your vet should be the next step. 

  • Fully clean your gerbil’s enclosure. This includes sanitizing every surface, shelter, dish, and water bottle. 
  • Change the type of bedding you use. Your gerbil may be allergic to the material they are breathing in all day. 
  • Check the location of the enclosure. Is there a draft? Are they sitting in the sun all day? Are they near a humidifier? You might need to move their enclosure to somewhere different.
  • Try different food. Your gerbil may not be getting the recommended amount of nutrients a day, or they may be allergic to something in the food. 
  • Use filtered water if you’ve been using tap water. There may be too much calcium in the water you’ve been giving your gerbil. 

Final Thoughts

It’s nearly impossible to tell if your gerbil has an allergy or if their symptoms are revealing an underlying condition. Sneezing, wheezing, coughing, runny nose, and crusty eyes are all symptoms of allergies, but they are also symptoms of more serious illnesses. 

At first signs of these symptoms, it’s important to start addressing them and trying to make your gerbil more comfortable. If there hasn’t been any change in a few days, it’s time to give your vet a call.