While gerbils lick and nibble when self-grooming, licking that becomes targeted to other things can be a sign of an underlying problem or a behavioral trait.
Learning why they do this can help you better understand your gerbil.
In this article, we will discuss the reasons your gerbil is likely to be licking everything.
Why Is My Gerbil Licking Everything?
There are three reasons your gerbil could be licking everything which include your gerbil is thirsty, are seeking salt from your sweat, a show of affection to you, or are bored. There are some easy ways to address this.
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Is My Gerbil Thirsty?
Gerbils don’t drink a lot of water, however, they need to have access to clean water at all times.
The first thing you should check if your gerbil is licking everything is if the gerbil is actually drinking from the bottle.
It could be possible that your gerbil does not understand how to drink from the bottle, which is more likely to be true for younger gerbils, and also unable to reach the bottle.
You have to show your young gerbils that they have a water source that they can drink from. You can do this by having a clear water bottle that they can see that’s where they can get water.
Spraying the nozzle of the water bottle with a little bit of water can also indicate to your gerbils that they can drink at this point, in time they will learn to drink from the water bottle.
The water bottle may also be broken and not releasing water to your gerbil. Therefore check whether the water bottle is the problem causing your gerbil not to be able to get their water intake.
When a gerbil licks the glass or its entire cage, this is also an indication of thirst.
Choosing a Water Bottle
There are some features that make for a good water bottle for your gerbil:
- It should have a metal spout.
- The bottle should be clear so you can see how full it is.
- It should be able to hang from the mesh lid or through the bars of the cage.
You will need to clean the bottle and spout regularly. The water should be refilled often to make sure it is fresh and always available.
The best gerbil water bottles are the Choco Nose water bottle and the Lixit Wide Mouth water bottle.
Is There a Mineral Deficiency?
Gerbils, like most mammals, need to have enough minerals in their bodies to be healthy. It is possible that the gerbil may be licking the salt from your skin that was released from your sweat.
If you determine this is the cause, you can get a mineral block.
In addition to adding minerals to your pet’s diet, the mineral block can help keep the gerbil’s teeth trimmed from chewing on it.
A good mineral block for gerbils is the Kaytee mini salt block.
Is It Affection?
When you first bring home your gerbil, it is normal that it may not be comfortable around you as your gerbil will not have gotten to know you yet.
If your gerbil licks your fingers it could be a sign of affection. Licking is one of the ways gerbils demonstrate social bonds with each other as well as with humans.
When they do this to you, it shows they like you and this also helps to form a bond with you.
You can help your gerbil get used to you by trying to give them food from your hand. When the gerbil is comfortable, you can attempt picking them up.
To pick up your gerbil, scoop it up in your hand. Never pick up a gerbil its tail or grab the tail in any way. This could cause an injury.
Is Your Gerbil Bored?
Your gerbil could be licking everything because it may be bored, especially if it is the only one.
Gerbils are social animals that need companionship from other gerbils in order to be happy and live well. A single gerbil kept alone will be bored and also falls into depression and stress because of this.
With nothing else to do when alone, you will also see strange behavior such as licking of different surfaces.
Depending on the size of the cage you can add one or two more gerbils of the same sex.
Also, add toys and equipment to provide mental stimulation. Gerbil toys include wheels, chew toys or climbing frames.
The best gerbil wheels are the Silent Runner Wheel and the Kaytee comfort wheel.
These wheels are suitable for gerbils because they are solid. Gerbils require a wheel that does not have spaces in between the running ramp to prevent their tails from getting caught up and getting injured.
The best gerbil chew toy is the Kaytee Chew Toy while the best climbing frame to overcome boredom through rigorous activity is the Activity Assault Course.
If your gerbil is licking everything, there could be a very simple explanation for this. Licking is normal behavior by gerbils and sometimes it is because of an underlying issue.
Excessive licking can be redirected and by understanding the reason behind your gerbil’s licking, you can implement the solutions to control it.