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Gerbil Acting Weird: Odd Behaviours + What To Do

You may be wondering why your gerbil is acting strangely. It is common to see gerbils do the weirdest things. 

Some behavioral changes are normal gerbil behavior while some can be an indication that something is wrong with your gerbil.

Read on to know the reasons behind why your gerbil is acting weird and what can be done.

Why Is My Gerbil Acting Weird?

A gerbil acting weird can be due to illness, being in a new environment, boredom, stress, depression, loneliness, and normal behavior in their daily lives. These underlying causes may result in behavioral and physical changes which might seem odd.

Normal Gerbil Behaviors

By nature, Gerbils are sociable, affectionate, and playful. They enjoy interacting with other members of their family.

You may catch them often grooming each other, when they are not chasing each other, wrestling, or putting on a boxing match.

Another common behavior is that gerbils rub their abdomen on objects to leave their scent behind. This is the same behavior a dog does when he squirts his urine on a tree. 

This behavior is called “Marking my territory.” They mark areas in their cage to take ownership of them. 

If your gerbil winks at you, take this as a sign of gratitude, there is nothing wrong with its eye. However, you might want to acknowledge the gesture and try winking back. 

If your gerbil seems to be out of tune with its friends and does not want to socialize, something is amiss. 

These are common ordinary gerbil behaviors but sometimes they may also seem strange to us.

Other Odd Gerbil Behaviours

Gerbils act differently depending on the underlying cause. It is helpful to learn to distinguish these behaviors, separating normal and off behaviors.

The below are some of the odd behaviors observed in gerbils:

  • Erratically stomping its feet- When your gerbil becomes excited, irritated, or wants to give a warning to the rest of an approaching predator, they stomp their feet.

 If you have more than one gerbil, you can expect them all to do this.

  • Biting on the cage bars- If your gerbil does not have anything interesting to keep its teeth sharp and healthy, it will start to chew on its cage. Stress can also result in this.
  • Hiding often- Gerbils are happy and relaxed when all is well in their environment. Sudden changes affect their confidence and send them into hiding.

 If your gerbil is sleeping too much and not being active, take note, something is not right in your gerbil’s world.

  • Excessive squeaking
  • Teeth chattering
  • Seizures- If you see your gerbil freezing up, twitching its muscles, or its body going rigid or limp, your gerbil could be experiencing a seizure.

Seizures are rarely fatal, but depending on the circumstances, they can be.

  • Illness- Illness also brings about a number of physical and behavioral changes.
  • Licking of the gerbilarium glass – This is weird behavior, especially if you have never seen your gerbil do this before. 

However, you do not need to worry. Licking the glass is your gerbil’s way of saying, “I’m thirsty.” 

Make sure to check your gerbil’s watering source and ensure that it is fresh, full, and free of debris.

Things To Consider

In order to get to the bottom of why your gerbil is acting weird, think about the possible root cause of the behavior. Two things to guide you include:

When the behavior started

Think about when the weird behavior started. This can unravel something that could have triggered them to start acting weird. Some things to consider:

  • They are in a new home or environment
  • Introduction of a new gerbil to a pair or group
  • If they faced aggression or mishandling from someone else

When they act weird

Consider also the timing of the behavior, that is, when do they start acting weird.

For example, when they hear loud noises from you or from the environment do they start acting in a strange way?

If the behavior is constant it could be that they are sick, depressed, or stressed.

What To Do About Your Gerbil Acting Weird

Behavioral changes are usually the first indicator that something could be wrong with your gerbil. Physical changes may take a while to show up because gerbils hide illness quite well until it is severe. 

Do the following:

Take them to your vet

It is always best to consult with a veterinarian to help you determine the reasons behind your gerbil’s change of behavior.

 Note any strange or out-of-the-ordinary behaviors and talk to a vet about your concerns.

If your gerbil has additional symptoms such as loss of appetite, they are suddenly lethargic and not active, this indicates there could be an underlying health problem.

Immediately take them to the veterinarian.

Provide a stress-free environment

It might be hard for you to imagine any animal being stressed, especially a gerbil. 

The truth is that every animal experiences some level of stress, even your sweet gentle gerbil can feel the stress of life.

Stress is related to the strange behavior of a gerbil. Stress shows up in many forms and often takes a physical and mental approach to how your gerbil acts and reacts in normal situations.

Try to minimize these disturbances around them so as to have a peaceful environment.

Learn to distinguish between normal and abnormal behavior

Some gerbil behaviors are normal, they are just strange to us. Continue to learn more about gerbil behavior so that you can distinguish them and be able to act in a medical emergency.

Provide entertainment for bored gerbils

Gerbils that are bored also are hyperactive and try to find something to keep them busy within their small confinement in a cage. 

They will be scratching and biting at their cage bar or digging a lot in a corner.

In order to entertain them, provide them with chew toys or accessories that they can play with. This includes hamster balls or exercise wheels to run on.


The blog contains different gerbil behavior and physical changes that explain in-depth why they happen. These include:

Why is my gerbil curled up in a ball

Why does my gerbil pee on my hand

Why Is My Gerbil Not Eating?

Why is my gerbil making a clicking noise?

Why Do Gerbils Eat Their Dead?

Why is My Gerbil Squeaking at Me?

Feel free to learn more about these behaviors, some of which are normal while some need medical attention because of underlying health problems or illnesses.