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Why does my gerbil pee on my hand? (Explained)

If your gerbil is peeing on your hand, you are likely frustrated. You just want to handle your pet gerbil and enjoy them but every time they pee on you!

In most cases it can be shrugged off as ‘small bathroom accidents’ by a gerbil, however, there are reasons why this happens.

In this article, we will go in-depth on why your gerbil pees on your hand, the potential dangers of it, and what you can do about it.

Why does my gerbil pee on my hand?

A Gerbil pees on your hand because of fear, nervousness, stress, and simply because they have a full bladder at the time you are carrying them. This behavior is a natural physical response. Baby gerbils are also more likely to pee on you because they have not yet mastered control of their body functions.

gerbil cupped in hand

Various situations can trigger these emotions causing a gerbil to naturally react and pee on you. 

One of these situations is when you have a new gerbil in your home. A new gerbil will be fearful and nervous in a new environment. They will tend to hide out more in their cage bedding or run off when they see you. 

This is normal because they need time to adjust to your home and naturally as a small animals they will fear you because you are perceived as a predator or threat because of your size in comparison to them.

When you happen to carry them in this fearful and nervous state, a natural body response is to pee. 

A stressed gerbil will also not be emotionally stable and will tend to relieve themselves.

Stress comes from being near loud noises from children, pets, or machines in the home, loneliness when they are alone without a partner, illness, and boredom.

Do gerbils pee?

Gerbils do pee and produce very concentrated urine, about 3 to 4 ml of urine per day. This translates to a few drops of urine.

Gerbils rarely drink water because they are adapted to living in deserts that have little water reserves. 

They only consume 4 to 7 ml of water per day which is enough for them as a small animal and eventually excreted from the body.

Recommeded Reading: Why is my gerbil eating its bedding?

Do gerbils pee everywhere?

Male gerbils pee everywhere as a scent-marking behavior. Gerbils are naturally territorial and will mark almost every object in the environment by depositing pheromones from their scent gland, urine, or feces. 

The males strategically mark their territory frequently compared to females and urinate or defecate to mark their territory in addition to using their scent gland secretions. 

Gerbils are also clean animals and will not urinate or poop in the area where they sleep. They will often relieve themselves in one particular area in their cage and not the rest of their space.

Is gerbil pee harmful to humans?

Gerbil pee can be harmful to humans if a gerbil is infected with bacteria or intestinal parasites that are within the pee or poop which can spread to humans and cause disease. The bacteria can be transmitted to humans through contaminated pee even if a gerbil does not seem sick.

Salmonella is a bacteria that can pass on to humans from gerbil pee. When a human ingests this bacteria by handling food or water without having washed hands properly, this leads to infection.

Salmonella infection causes a gastrointestinal illness in humans called Salmonellosis whose symptoms include fever, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, chills, headache, and vomiting. 

The dwarf tapeworm is an intestinal parasite that can pass on from a gerbil to humans through their eggs or larvae that are present in their poop. 

If a gerbil pees on your hand, they might also eliminate a small amount of poop because they will have diarrhea as a result of this infection. 

Ingestion of the dwarf tapeworm’s eggs or larvae due to improper washing of hands after gerbil handling leads to infection in humans.

Always Ensure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling your gerbil and also have them examined and treated for infection. 

Separate sick gerbils and also clean and sanitize their cage to prevent the spread of disease. 

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What are the signs your gerbil is about to pee on you?

Gerbils will pee whenever they need to and unfortunately for you, this might be on your hand.

They also have a small bladder, therefore, cannot hold their urine for a long time. So if you hold your gerbil in your hand for a long time, expect to be peed on.

There are however signs to look out for that signal your gerbil is about to pee on you. These include:

  • Sudden recklessness
  • Squeaking
  • Circling

Take note of these behaviors which can alert you that they want to be released. Return them to their cage to relieve themselves when you see this.

Can you train a gerbil to not pee on you? : What you can do

You cannot train a gerbil not to pee on you but you can put measures in place to prevent it from happening. This can be done by:

Limit your handling time

Limiting the time you hold your gerbil will prevent them from peeing on you because of having a full bladder. A good starting point is 10 to 15 minutes of handling time.

Get to know your gerbil’s behavior

Get to understand how your gerbil behaves. It might be hard to read them at first but be patient with the process. After some time, you will get to understand and know more about their individual behavior patterns. 

This includes when they need to be let go to relieve themselves and the frequency of this. This will save you from being peed on your hands.

Provide a stress-free environment

A stressed gerbil can pee on your hand, therefore, provide a stress-free environment for your gerbil. 

This can be done by putting their room in a room with less noise and movement TVs for teachers or if you have children I advise them not to make noise near eligible.

Pair your gerbil if they are stressed due to loneliness and also provide them with toys such as chew toys to overcome stress due to boredom.

A sick gerbil can be stressed out which can cause them to have changed behavior such as frequent urination. Take your gerbil for a medical examination by your veterinarian. 

The veterinarian will determine the underlying problem and provide treatment.

Recommended reading: Why is my gerbil making a clicking noise?

Be Patient

Be patient with gerbils especially if they are young. Gerbils grow up fast and adjust to holding their pee. 

A new gerbil will also adapt to your home as their new environment and also be more comfortable with you. They will no longer see you as a threat and this will not trigger urination due to fear.


When your gerbil pees on your hand it can be unpleasant and also can cause concern if something is wrong. This behavior is however perfectly normal and common.

Remember it is not personal and it does not indicate that your gerbil hates you or that they are being hostile to you. It is only a natural physical reaction depending on the situation that triggers the release.

Gerbils may not be able to communicate to us when they need to go but you can put safeguards to prevent your hand from being peed on.

I hope this article helped you learn why your gerbil pees on your hand, the potential dangers of it, and what you can do about it. 


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