Gerbils are creatures with a lot of energy. Because of this, they are usually slim.
If you begin to notice that your gerbil is starting to look fat, bloated, or has a swollen stomach, you need to think about any changes that might be causing the bloat.
If there haven’t been any changes in your gerbil’s eating or activity habits, there might be an underlying cause.
Let’s take a look at why your gerbil is bloated and what can be done about it.
Why is My Gerbil Bloated?
A gerbil can be bloated because of constipation and disease that results in the development of bloat or swelling of the abdominal area. A gerbil may also have a bloated appearance due to pregnancy and sudden weight gain due to old age. Medical attention is required because bloating can be due to a serious health condition.
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Gerbil bloating: Common causes and solutions
A constipated gerbil has a swollen or distended stomach. They are restless, weak, and will have a difficulty in producing stool and when they do it the stool will be dry and hard.
Constipation in gerbils is a result of a lack of frequent water intake, a lack of a variety of food in their diet, intestinal blockage by parasites or tumors.
Feed your gerbil a variety of food to prevent them from becoming constipated. Always have fresh water available for your gerbil.
Water works well with fiber in the food to make your gerbil’s bowel movements more regular.
A visit to the veterinarian is also important to determine any other underlying cause of constipation.
Recommended reading: Why is my gerbil making a clicking noise?
Different diseases can cause a gerbil to have a bloated or swollen stomach. A gerbil’s swollen stomach is one of the many symptoms of some diseases that affect them.
Most of these diseases are life-threatening and cause notable bloating.
Therefore a gerbil that looks bloated should not be ignored because the underlying disease if not diagnosed and treated early can lead to grave outcomes for a gerbil.
The diseases and health conditions that cause a bloated or swollen abdominal area include:
Gerbil heart failure. Heart failure in gerbils leads to the swelling of the abdominal area due to the buildup of fluid. A gerbil will look bloated because of this.
Gerbil ovarian cyst. Ovarian cysts commonly occur in older female gerbils. An enlarged ovarian cyst pushes on the abdomen causing a gerbil’s abdomen to protrude from the side or the whole stomach area.
The abdomen swells up and a gerbil looks pregnant or bloated. A gerbil with an ovarian cyst appears bell-shaped, with a patchy coat due to hair loss.
Liver failure. Liver failure leads to an enlarged liver which causes the lower portion of a gerbil’s body to look swollen and bloated.
Tumors. Tumors of internal organs such as the spleen or stomach also lead to swelling up of a gerbil’s abdomen which gives them a bloated appearance.
If your gerbil group consists of males and females, your female gerbil may likely be pregnant.
A pregnant gerbil will have a distended stomach and will have a bloated appearance.
You may not be aware they are pregnant, therefore to confirm this, take them for an examination where the veterinarian will determine if this is so or due to another underlying cause.
Sudden weight gain
Older gerbils are more prone to sudden weight gain and weight loss. If you noticed your gerbil’s stomach suddenly becoming large, weight gain due to old age could be the reason.
Weight gain can be due to heart failure or tumors. This can give them a bloated appearance from having these underlying conditions.
The underlying health conditions causing the sudden weight gain are addressed through treatment from a veterinarian.
Medical conditions in gerbils can advance very quickly. Some of these conditions can be prevented, such as the health of your gerbil’s liver.
Do not feed your gerbil too many fatty foods. For example, sunflowers should be used sparingly because of their high-fat content. Your vet may also make further dietary changes or additional supplements.
Tumors can either be benign or malignant. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, your veterinarian may be able to surgically remove it.
Parasites can be diagnosed through your gerbil’s droppings. If it turns out that your gerbil has a parasite, your veterinarian will give you deworming medication.
You will also need to thoroughly clean your gerbil’s enclosure and any other surfaces they might have touched. Otherwise, you risk your gerbil being infected again.
Bloating in a gerbil can easily be dismissed as a gerbil that is full after a meal or healthy because of being fed well. This is far from the truth.
Gerbils are susceptible to conditions like enlarged livers, tumors, obstructions of the bowel, and other life-threatening diseases that cause bloat and swelling of the stomach.
A bloated gerbil or one that looks bloated by having a swollen abdomen should be taken to the veterinarian to be examined to diagnose the cause of this.
This can save a gerbil’s life in the long run.