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Gerbil Conjunctivitis: Can Gerbils Get Pink Eye?

If you notice that your gerbil’s eyes are irritated, swollen, red, puffy, or teary, this could be an indication that something is wrong with their health.

Conjunctivitis, commonly referred to as pink eye, is common in humans where the whites of the eye become pink in color due to irritation or infection. So, can gerbils get pink eye as well?   

In this article, we will find out what could cause your gerbil to have pink eye, how the vet will treat the pink eyes, and what you can do to help prevent it from happening again. With a few simple modifications, you can help protect your gerbil’s eyes and keep your pet healthy.

Can Gerbils Get Pink Eye?

Yes, gerbils can get pink eye which is an inflammation of the eye’s conjunctiva causing the white part of the eye to appear pink in color. Pink eye in gerbils is common and can get worse when not treated.

Pink eye is also common amongst a variety of animals, including cattle, sheep, goats, and gerbils. 

What Causes Pink Eye In Gerbils?

Pink eye is an inflammation of the eye’s conjunctiva which is the clear tissue over the eyes that protects the eyes from infection and foreign objects. 

Pink eye in gerbils can be caused by:

  • Bacterial or viral infection
  • Irritants from foreign objects such as dust for from the gerbil bedding material or small speck of object stuck in the gerbil’s eye 
  • Allergic reaction. An allergic reaction to an environmental element can lead a gerbil to have pink eye due to the body reaction to the allergen. 

Allergies can come from your gerbil’s bedding which produces dust that causes an allergic reaction on inhalation.

  • Eye injury from abrasive bedding.

If you see that there is something in your gerbils’ eye, do not try to remove it. Immediately take your pet to the veterinarian to safely remove the foreign object.

Symptoms of Pink Eye in Gerbils

The symptoms of pink eye in gerbils include:

  • Redness of the eyes
  • Teary eyes more than usual
  • Itchy eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Discharge from the eyes

A gerbil with pink eye may rub its eyes constantly because of the itchy eyes which may worsen the condition. 

It is therefore important to seek medical attention and take your gerbil to the veterinarian.

How is Pink Eye Diagnosed?

When you see the veterinarian, they will examine your gerbil’s eyes. The veterinarian will determine the cause of the pink eye and treatment will be offered depending on the underlying cause.

They might clean around the eyes to be able to do the exam. To determine the cause, the vet may take a sample from the sore area to identify what is causing the infection.

What is the Treatment?

If your vet identifies that your gerbil has an infection, there are a few things they may do:

  • Remove any irritation or whatever may be stuck in your gerbil’s eye. This will help to reduce swelling and lessen the irritation.
  • Prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment for the treatment of bacterial infection. This will need to be applied multiple times a day to the eyes.
  • Suggest changes to the gerbil’s cage especially the bedding which could be the cause of irritation or allergies that cause the pink eye. This will help address occurrence issues.

If the vet prescribes medication for your gerbil, request the vet to show you how to give your pet the medication. 

The vet may suggest that you wrap the gerbil in a towel, with just its head exposed, then have a friend or family member help to gently tip the head back to make it possible for you to gently open the eyelids and apply the medication.

It is important to follow the instructions for the medication to ensure proper application and treatment.

Changes to Make to Keep Your Gerbil Healthy

Make the following changes for your gerbil as they recover from the pink eye: 

  • Keep the infected gerbil in a separate cage or area from other gerbils and pets to limit exposure. 

Pink eye caused by a bacterial or viral infection can spread to other gerbils in the cage so it is best to separate them.

Also, the infection could worsen if they are returned to the cage with other gerbils, because of stress and anxiety.

  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect the gerbils’ cages to minimize the risk of the spread of the infection. Reintroduce the gerbils when the infected gerbil is fully healed.

There are good and bad bedding materials for gerbils. The bad material produces dust which causes irritation and allergic reactions in gerbils and also leads to respiratory infections in gerbils.

Pine and cedar wood shavings are the bad bedding material that should not be used for gerbil bedding. 

Good bedding material includes Kaytee Clean and Cozy, Aspen wood shavings, CareFresh bedding, cardboard shavings, ink or dye-free shredded paper, and hay.

  • Keep your gerbil’s cage out of the sunlight in a room with an appropriate temperature and keep the humidity below 50%.

High humidity is not good for gerbils because it causes stress and irritates a gerbil’s eyes. Therefore keep it at the right level.

  • Adjust your gerbil’s diet. A low nutritional diet can make a gerbil susceptible to eye problems.

The pet pellets you feed to your gerbil should contain 18-20% protein and green vegetables. 

Do not feed your gerbil a lot of sunflower seeds or table scraps. Gerbils love these foods however they do not provide the nutritionally balanced diet that they need.

Your veterinarian will recommend the change that needs to be made so that your gerbil will get the right nutrition for recovery and also prevent their eyes from getting worse.

Final Thoughts

Gerbils getting pink eyes is common. When you notice your gerbil eyes having symptoms of pink eye, If your pet develops an eye infection, you can easily get it treated and make changes to make sure your gerbil is healthy.