Table of Contents Hide
- Why do gerbils bite?
- When do gerbils bite the most?
- What to do and what not to
- Let your gerbil know you
- Be Friendly to your Gerbil
- Get their smell on your hands!
- Don’t tire out your gerbil
- Mind how you pick them up
- Don’t restrict its movement forcibly
- Don’t annoy them
- Try not to react when your gerbil bites you
Gerbils may look small, but when your gerbil bites you, it can be painful. Is your cute little critter biting you more often than it should? There may be a lot of reasons for this behavior. The next question in your mind must be how to get a gerbil to stop biting? Punishing your furry friend won’t improve the behavior. Delve a little deeper to find out the reason behind this and act accordingly.
Why do gerbils bite?
You can only find the way of how to get a gerbil to stop biting is to first discover the reason for its aggressive action. It is always easier to prevent your gerbil from biting you once you understand gerbil behavior better. Gerbils can read your emotions better than other critters. If they are irritated by your actions or are frightened, they may get agitated and bite you.
When do gerbils bite the most?
Knowing the answer to this will solve most of your problems. All gerbils do not bite and they are generally sociable. Some gerbils bite when they are frightened, nervous, or annoyed. So, it is important to be gentle and not to baffle your gerbil with loud noise or scary movements.
What to do and what not to
If your gerbil is biting you, most probably you are doing something wrong while handling the critter. Here’s how to get a gerbil to stop biting you.
Let your gerbil know you
Does your gerbil know you well? If it is new, maybe you need to introduce yourself to your gerbil first. The sooner your pet is comfortable with you, the lesser are the chances of you getting bitten. When you first start handling any gerbil, allow it to get familiar with your hands. A good way to do this is to keep your hand inside the cage. Allow the gerbil to sniff around and get used to the touch and smell. You may occasionally feel a nibble or a wet lick on your fingers and palm, but it is okay. It is only a harmless friendship act that won’t hurt! This is how they will recognize you later.
Be Friendly to your Gerbil
Who doesn’t like a friendly person? Gerbils surely do! Be gentle and polite when around your gerbils if you do not want to invite a ‘bloody finger attack’, never attempt to pick up a sleeping gerbil. Give your gerbil time to wake up fully and understand what’s going around before you touch it.
Get their smell on your hands!
All animals are most used to their own smell. Before you decide to grab your gerbil and cuddle it, first rub your hands on your gerbil’s bedding or the stuff inside its tank. While working around the house, your hands may pick up other strong smells which the critters may dislike. That can make them uncomfortable and more prone to biting you.
Don’t tire out your gerbil
You may not realize it, but chasing the gerbils with your hands inside their home and trying to catch them may exhaust them. Not, knowing what to do and how to stop you, they may restore to biting your finger in frustration. So, if you don’t want a painful bite, don’t overdo it – give the animals some rest.
Your gerbil may feel safe inside its tank and may know you well but sudden movements often cause stress. The simple retaliation can come as a surprise bite. Always be gentle and avoid quick movements. Often, you will notice that gerbils avoid moving close to your hands. Maybe they are not feeling up to it at that moment and don’t want to be touched. Be respectful and see it deters the gerbils from biting your fingers.
Mind how you pick them up
Picking up a gerbil by its tail is a simple no-no! The best way to pick up a tame gerbil is to hold its neck gently and place it on your cupped palm. If your gerbil is not trained or is new, first win its trust and create a bond. Sit next to the gerbil cage, talk gently, and let your gerbil get used to your presence. Then, keep some gerbil food on your hand and let it climb on your forearm willingly. When your gerbil feels comfortable, touch it gently on the head or scratch the sides of its body with your fingers.
Image 2: Pixabay
Don’t restrict its movement forcibly
If you are thinking about how to get a gerbil to stop biting when you are holding it in your cupped palm, following these rules will help. Always remember, your gerbil needs space and may feel suffocated when you hold it tightly in your hands. Don’t restrict the critter’s movement completely when holding it in your palm. If the gerbil feels trapped, it may get nervous and bite you. Never squeeze them too tightly with your fingers or enclose them with your fingers. In an attempt to break loose and escape from the tightly enclosed fist, your gerbil may have no other option but to bite you.
If you are afraid of your gerbil jumping out of your hands and getting hurt, there is no reason to be worried. Gerbils can gauge elevations fairly well and judge what a safe height to jump from is.
Don’t annoy them
Owners may not realize but some things they do may irritate their gerbils more than they can imagine. Some common things are –
· Holding the gerbil when it does not want to be picked up
· Holding it for a very long time
· Stroking and cuddling a gerbil when it does not like
Are you are doing any of these and noticing your gerbil biting or nipping you? It’s time to stop playing and consider putting it back in its cage. If, your gerbil does not like long play times do not think it does not appreciate spending occasion time outside the cage. Bring it out regularly and keep the gerbil socialized. Your curious little pet usually likes to be active and is curious to discover its surroundings.
Release a gentle puff of air on your gerbil’s face
What you do to correct a child’s behavior may not work for a gerbil. In this case, an instantaneous corrective behavior works better than punishment. Your gerbil cannot relate to punishment with an act performed earlier. So, when you notice the furry animal does something wrong try correcting it right at that moment! A good way to do this is to gently blow some air on the gerbil’s face. It helps the critter link its actions to your behavior. Gerbil’s dislike puff of air hitting their face and would not repeat the action that invites it time and again. They will learn to correlate their action with your reaction. So, next time when you catch your gerbil nibbling on your fingers you know how to discourage it.
Remember to keep the airflow mild because a gush of strong air is not good for your gerbil as they may have seizures.
Give the gerbils nose a gentle push with your finger
Whether it’s play or punishment- always remember to be gentle with your gerbil. Another tried and tested way to deter your gerbil from biting you is to press your furry pet’s nose lightly with your fingers. It should not be a hard jab but only a playful and light push. This will not only unfasten the bite but also discourage the gerbil to repeat the action.
Try not to react when your gerbil bites you
If you shout, move with a jerk or show any visible reactions, when your gerbil bites you, your gerbil has achieved what it wanted! Most of the time, when your furry pet bites you, either it wants’ to break loose or is feeling threaded from your loud noise or movements. Not showing any reaction to the gerbil’s bite is how to get a gerbil to stop biting. It may sound absurd, but it is the solution!
It is a natural reaction to move away, scream, and jump when you get bitten because your body wants to steer clear from the threat. Doing any of these increases the chances of your gerbil biting you again when it does not like something that you do. So, have control, hold still, and be quiet. Don’t let your gerbil think it can dissuade you with its sharp bite.
Reinforcement positive behavior with rewards
When training most animals, positive reinforcement works wonders. The same goes for your gerbil too! Reward your gerbil with treats for remaining calm and behaving well. Do the same when it does not bite you while sitting on your palm. That will help your pet associate good behavior with the goodies from you.
It’s a lot better than punishing the critter. Punishments can scare your gerbil, and it may bite you more simply out of fear.
When the gerbil bites, put it back in the cage
When your gerbil starts nibbling at your fingers and you can feel a harder bite coming soon, the best thing to do is to put it in its cage. A safer and more comfortable surrounding helps the gerbil to calm down.
Never expect the same behavior every time you take out your gerbil from its cage. Monitor its mood and try to handle it accordingly. It is pointless to punish your gerbil every time it bites you. If you think solitary confinement or not giving your pet its favorite snack will make it learn a lesson – that’s not going to happen! A gerbil’s understanding of your reactions is limited. So, think of ways you can communicate better and bring about positive behavior.