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Do Gerbils Bite Their Owners?

do gerbils bite

Pet bites can be a frustrating and painful issue for pet owners. 

It’s important to understand that biting is a natural behavior for animals and can be a sign of fear, aggression, or playfulness

We need to identify the root cause of the biting behavior to properly address it.

Do gerbils bite their owners?

One way to prevent pet bites is through proper training and socialization.

Training your pet to respond to commands and interact positively with people and other animals can greatly reduce the likelihood of biting incidents.

Let’s dive in and find out if gerbils bite or not!

 Do Gerbils Bite Their Owners?

woman screaming

Believe it or not, gerbils can bite their owners though it’s not common behavior. 

Gerbils usually only bite if they feel threatened or scared, or if they mistake your finger for food. 

To minimize the risk of getting bitten, you should handle your gerbil gently and with care.

 Never grab them forcefully or squeeze them too tightly, because this can cause them to feel scared or threatened. 

A good tip is to approach your gerbil slowly and calmly, allowing them to sniff your hand before attempting to pick them up. 

If your gerbil does bite you, remain calm and avoid pulling away, as this can cause further injury.

 Instead, gently blow on the wound or dip it in a little bit of saline solution to reduce the risk of infection. 

Don’t be worried as gerbils are generally gentle and friendly pets that rarely bite.

When you treat them with care and respect, you can build a strong bond with your gerbil without worrying about getting bitten.

Watercolor gerbil


Spend time daily with your gerbils to help them become accustomed to your presence.
Start by placing your hand near the cage and letting them sniff and investigate.
Gradually progress to offering treats through the cage bars and eventually your open hand.

Do Gerbil Bites Hurt?

Gerbil bites can cause some pain and discomfort, but it really depends on the severity of the bite.

 Gerbils have sharp teeth, and their bites can pierce the skin, causing bleeding and soreness. 

But gerbils are small animals, and their bites are not typically strong enough to cause serious injury or infection.

Why Do Gerbils Bite You?

Territorial Instincts

Gerbils are territorial by nature. If they feel their territory is invaded, they might bite to defend it. This behavior is more common when introducing new gerbils or when they are in a new environment.

Fear and Stress

When gerbils feel threatened, they may resort to biting as a defense mechanism. Sudden movements, loud noises, or handling them before they’re comfortable can trigger fear-based biting.

Curiosity and Exploration

Gerbils use their mouths to explore the world. Sometimes, they might nibble on fingers or hands out of curiosity, mistaking them for something to investigate.

Pain or Discomfort

If a gerbil is in pain due to injury, illness, or discomfort, it might bite when touched in a painful area. Biting serves as a way to communicate distress.


Gerbils can’t communicate verbally, so biting might be their way of expressing displeasure or trying to communicate a need that’s not being met.

Dominance Aggression

In pairs or groups, dominance-related aggression can occur. One gerbil might bite to assert dominance over another, especially during feeding or when establishing territory.

Maternal Instinct

Female gerbils with litters might bite when they feel their offspring are threatened. This is an instinctual behavior to protect their young.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal fluctuations, particularly in unneutered males, can lead to mood swings and increased aggression, causing them to bite more readily.

Lack of Socialization

Gerbils that aren’t handled frequently or have limited human interaction might not be accustomed to being touched and might bite out of fear.

Old Age or Illness

Gerbils in their later stages of life or those suffering from illnesses might experience changes in behavior, including increased irritability and biting. 

Try your best to assess the cause of the bite and address any underlying issues in the gerbil’s environment or behavior. 

gerbil being held

What Happens if a Gerbil Bites You?

If a gerbil bites you, the first thing you should do is remain calm. Gerbils have sharp teeth and can cause bleeding, but their bites are not usually severe.

 Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and apply an antiseptic if necessary. 

Observe the bite for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus. If any of these symptoms occur, seek medical attention immediately. 

To avoid future biting incidents, make sure to handle your gerbil gently, avoid sudden movements, and provide them with a safe and comfortable living environment.

Why Do Gerbils Bite Their Cage?

Gerbils are known for their energetic and curious behavior, often seen running on their wheels or burrowing through their bedding. 

Sometimes gerbils can display a behavior that seems less desirable: biting their cage. This behavior may seem puzzling to pet owners, but it actually has a few potential causes.

One reason gerbils may bite their cage is simply out of boredom or frustration. Gerbils are active animals and need plenty of stimulation to keep them happy and healthy.

If their cage is too small or lacks interesting toys and activities, they may resort to biting on their cage bars as a way to release pent-up energy or express their dissatisfaction.

 Another reason gerbils may bite their cage is to file down their teeth, which grow continuously throughout their lives. 

Chewing on hard surfaces like cage bars can help grind down their teeth and prevent issues like overgrowth or malocclusion. 

If your gerbil is constantly biting on their cage bars and causing damage, it may be a sign that their teeth are not being properly maintained or that they have an underlying dental issue. 

So, if you notice your gerbil biting their cage, it may be a sign that they need more stimulation or that their dental health needs

How Often Do Gerbils Bite?

Gerbils are generally not aggressive or biting animals.

 They are social creatures that enjoy interacting with each other and with their owners. 

They have their personalities, and some may be more prone to biting than others.

 Gerbils may bite when they feel threatened or uncomfortable, such as when they are being mishandled or when they are in pain.

Once you handle them gently and with care you should be fine. Also, avoid doing anything to provoke them. 

If you are consistent in handling them with patience and kindness, they will usually become comfortable with you quickly, and biting will not be an issue.

Watercolor gerbil

Don’t Corner Me!

Gerbils have a natural prey instinct and might bite if they feel chased or cornered.
Allow them to come to you willingly rather than trying to grab them forcefully.

How Hard Do Gerbils Bite?

In general, gerbils have a relatively mild bite compared to other small animals such as hamsters or rats.

Gerbils may bite if they feel threatened or frightened, or if they mistake a finger for food. 

Still, gerbils are generally gentle and unlikely to bite, but owners should handle them with care and be aware of potential risks.

What Does it Mean When Your Gerbil Bites You?

Gerbils may bite for several reasons, including fear, territorial behavior, or stress. 

If your gerbil is not used to being handled, it may become scared and bite as a form of self-defense. Similarly, if your gerbil is feeling territorial, it may bite to protect its territory.

 Stress can also cause gerbils to bite, especially if they are in a new environment or are being introduced to a new gerbil.

gerbil nibbling

How Do You Get a Gerbil to Stop Biting?

Gerbils usually bite out of fear or stress, so it’s essential to create a calm and safe environment for them.

Make sure to provide your gerbil with plenty of toys, hiding places, and tunnels to explore and play in.

It’s also important to avoid sudden movements and loud noises around your gerbil, as this can also cause them to become stressed and fearful.

Another technique to help stop your gerbil from biting is to socialize with them regularly.

Spend time talking to your gerbil, offering them treats, and gently petting them.

The more your gerbil gets used to human interaction, the less likely they will be to bite.

Always approach your gerbil slowly and calmly, never forcing them to interact with you if they don’t want to.

If your gerbil continues to bite even after trying these techniques, it may be helpful to consult with a veterinarian or an experienced gerbil owner for further advice.

Do Gerbils Bite?

Gerbils are generally friendly and social creatures that make great pets.

While biting is a natural behavior for any animal, gerbils do not typically bite unless they feel threatened or scared.

Handle gerbils gently and create a safe and comfortable environment for them.

You can enjoy a rewarding and stress-free relationship with your furry companions.

Remember, if you are ever unsure about your gerbil’s behavior or health, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian who specializes in small animals

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