The majority of people who get a pet choose ones that they can interact with in some way. For most, this means a pet that they can pick up, stroke, cuddle, and even play with, a pet that they can befriend.
Gerbils are an excellent choice of pet and enjoy being held. They love to be held, stroked, and played with, in fact, they adore attention all around. Holding your gerbil is also a great way for the two of you to bond, and can be, potentially, satisfying for you both.
However, how you pick them up and hold them is important to build trust between gerbil and owner.
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Why Do Gerbils Like To Be Held?
Gerbils like to be held purely because they are incredibly sociable animals that enjoy the company of others.
It also does not matter to them whether that company is a gerbil or human. They do, however, need to become accustomed to their owner before they will enjoy being handled.
The reason for this is that gerbils, like most other rodents, are prey animals in their natural habitat. This means that it is their natural instinct to assume that anything bigger than them is a predator.
Once trust is established, however, this will no longer be an issue, and your gerbil will enjoy their human contact.
How To Prepare Your Gerbil For Being Held
Naturally, for the reason mentioned above, gerbils can be nervous of any human contact at first. You will, therefore, need both time and patience to get them past this, and comfortable in your hand.
Step One – It is important to recognize that on first coming to your home your gerbil may be unsettled.
They will have moved from an environment they were comfortable in into a new unfamiliar one in your home.
For this reason, you should allow your gerbil a few days to settle in before starting the bonding process.
Step Two – Once your gerbil seems settled into their new home you can slowly introduce your hand into their cage. Start slowly by placing your hand into their cage door and gradually move it further inside.
Do not attempt to touch your gerbil at this point, but do let them sniff at your hand should they choose to.
Step Three – It is entirely possible that if you leave your palm facing upwards in the cage that your gerbil will walk on to it without encouragement.
However, if this does not happen you can try placing a tasty treat in your palm to entice them. You should still not attempt to stroke your gerbil at this point.
Rather, you should simply let them walk on and off your hand and realize that you pose no threat.
Step Four – Once your gerbil has become used to touching you with its paws, you can try gently stroking them. Make your hand movements towards them slowly and do not apply too much pressure.
How To Hold Your Gerbil
When you have got your gerbil accustomed to being touched it is time to try picking them up. This should always be done carefully, and preferably using the scooping method.
The Scooping Method
1 Place both your hands into your gerbil’s cage with palms facing up and shaped to resemble a cup.
2 Wait for your gerbil to come over to your hands and then gently scoop them up.
3 Close your hands around your gerbil and remove them from the cage. Take them to a seat or area where you can play and stroke them safely.
4 When you want to put your gerbil back repeat steps two and three. This time, however, take your gerbil back to the cage instead of somewhere to play.
5 On placing your gerbil back in the cage ensure that you do so by placing your hands on the bottom and flattening your palms. This way your gerbil can simply walk off your hands and does not have to jump.
Safe Gerbil Handling Tips
As well as following the guidelines above there are also several tips that will help you handle your gerbil safely.
- Never drop a gerbil into its cage as you may risk injuring them.
- Always carry your gerbil in cupped hands. This will reduce the chances of them jumping and injury.
- Don’t grab your gerbil or tightly squeeze them. Doing either of these risks not only injury to your furry friend, but also a bite for you.
- Never pick your gerbil up by its head, limbs, or tail. This is cruel, potentially painful, and could cause harm.
- Try not to hold your gerbil too far off the ground. If they escape from your hands at a height it’s a long way for them to fall.
- Be cautious if allowing children to pick up a gerbil. The risk of being dropped is greater in young hands and should never be allowed unsupervised.
- Pick up your gerbil on a regular basis as this will keep them well socialized. It will also prevent your gerbil from becoming bored due to spending all its time in a cage.
- Avoid nips and bites by not picking your gerbil up when they don’t want to be handled. You should be able to tell if this is the case as your gerbil will not be cooperative and may make warning noises.
Conclusion: Do Gerbils like to be picked up and held?
Though you may find at first that your gerbil is a little nervous around you, the more time you spend with them, the less nervous they will be.
After all, gerbils are a sociable animal and want to get to know you just as much as you want to get to know them.
This, however, can take a little time and you should be prepared to be patient with them. This is because patience will ensure that the gerbil/human relationship is successful and importantly safe.
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