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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-04-2005, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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My gerbil died; need advice

Hi there. Name's Kris. In all honesty, I joined this forum just because it's so active and I have a specific question about my gerbil... but maybe I'll stick around.

My favorite gerbil (I owned two) passed away yesterday. I'm really not sure what caused it, and I wanted to ask your opinions. I noticed a few days prior that she was breathing faster than normal... This worried me, but I decided maybe I was being paranoid and didn't do anything about it. -.- A few days later she was noticeably worse: She seemed exhausted, she hardly moved, and when she did, it seemed to take effort and she was wobbly on her feet... I even saw her shaking. Her eyes weren't open and her breathing hadn't improved. I was scared that she was dying.

She was over three years old, which I know is old for a gerbil... But are the shaking and heavy breathing normal symptoms of old age? Could she have had pneumonia or a stoke? =(

The next day I found her dead in the cage. But the strange thing was... the side of her face was bloody. (My mom and brother examined her because I didn't have the stomach for it.) They're convinced the younger gerbil (the daughter) attacked and killed her, but that doesn't make any sense. The two got along perfectly (they were cute together!) for over two years. I'd like to believe my younger gerbil knew her mom was suffering and ended it quickly, or was only trying to help but got frantic when it didn't work, or she just did that after my gerbil died.... Is this possible? Could my older gerbil have had a brain tumor, as awful as the thought is? My gerbils were never aggressive, except for nipping my fingers, and that hardly counts.

I ask because I hate not knowing what happened to my beloved pet, and also because I want to know if it's safe to get another gerbil as company for Mr. Gray (the daughter). I know they're sociable creatures, and she's never been alone for even a whole day... I really don't think she's dangerous to other rodents, even if my mom doesn't understand that.

What do you all think? And thank you for your time.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-04-2005, 07:38 PM
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It sounds like heart problems, especially with the increased breathing and the blood. Blood tinged fluid will often leak out of the lungs via the trachea when an animal with heart disease dies due to the fluid buildup in the lungs. Being a prey species, you probably wouldn't have known about the heart disease until the end if that's what it was, as it were. They hide symptoms so well. Of course, the only true way to know is a necropsy by a vet.

I'm sorry for your loss. I'd doubt it would be a problem to obtain another gerbil for your remaining one unless there were visible wounds on the gerbil that passed before it died.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-04-2005, 07:44 PM
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It appears that your gerbil lived a very long life.3 is old for a gerbil.So pat tour self on the back for being such a good mom!The behaivor you described sounds like she was going into respritory failure.With could be caused from a stroke.I am no vet.,but have been around hamsters and gerbils for years.
As far as the blood on the face I am to assume that nature took over and the other gerbil was doing what came natural.Gerbils are carnivirous too.

I am so sorry for your lose.I has 16 when my first hamster died.His name was Perry,(after my boyfriend)
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-04-2005, 07:48 PM
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I'm so sorry to hear of your loss, it's a terrible thing.

You story sounds so very much like one of my own.
I had 2 females gerbils (my first back then) and one sister at the age of 2 with no signs of illness just up and died on me.
When i found her, the side of her face was chewed at, and I had my mother remove the body b/c I just couldn't see her that way.

I did some research and asked around and found out gerbils in the wild will eat the bodies of their dead, so that the decaying body dosn't get time to smell and attract preditors to the burrow. And so i belive this is what my little girl was doing.

I woudl wait a week or so and watch for since of ilness in your daughter gerbil, JUST in case whatever your momma gerbil died of wasn't contagious. I'm just a bit worried about the signs you saw with her.
I had a gerbil have a major stroke, and she just layed cold (she did survive it, though was paralized on one side). I've also had gerbils who are prone to seizures which dosn't effect them in any way. So i don't think she had either of them.
3 years old is a good age for a gerbil, so I wouldn't be to worried about lack of quality of life, it's obvious she lived a long happy healthy life with you.

How old is the daughter gerbil?
female gerbils can be a bit harder to intro then males, but with a good week or mroe split cage I'm positive it can be done. If you have any questions about split cages or anything I'm sure there are alot of great people hear willing to help you with getting the information.


Adoption. Is the living option.
Can't Afford The Vet? Can't Afford the Pet!
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-04-2005, 07:49 PM
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sometimes after a cage mate dies the others try to "clean up" by eating the dead one. nothing wrong with this... compleatly natural. hope you get another gerbil soon. so sorry for your loss.

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-04-2005, 09:57 PM
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Three hours ago Petey, a three year old gerbil, died in my hands with me holding his paw talking to him.

I will post about this soon in the Memorial forum; please check it later, and add your own thread for your gerb.

Petey had been a fat couch potato, but became very bony recently, plus he seemed unable to control his bladder: it was wet down there I guess from urine (not diarrhea). I have antibiotics, yogurt, and water with vitmains very gently with an eyedropper. VERY gently. Never force liquids in.

I knew he was not going to make it this morning so I got a young gerbil to replace him - Sapphire, a sapphire colored gerb (sort of a medium gray all over, like platinum). He, and Edan, a Dark eyed-Honey with a lightening gene, are getting to know each other know behind a split screen. Petey is in the big freezer; maybe I will bury him in the usual safe place (a big human cemetery) or just keep him.

He was just old, and maybe had cancer (?).

Your other gerb did not kill the other (whose name you never gave), but may have instictively tried to remove a dead body so the scent would not attract a predator.

It seems like yesterday (actually Nov. 2002) I found Petey ( a cream) and his white brother, Whitey, in a round tank in a pet store as tiny pups. Whitey died long ago, and now Petey is gone. His decline reminded me of my mother's - being reduced to an emaciated state.

As I held his paw him in my palm, his legs and arms moved and spasmed a bit, he opened his mouth, sort of stretched, and breathed his last. I am glad I was there when he went. That usually does not happen.

So, I will post a thread in the Memorial section soon. Oddly it seems deaths come in groups, and then months go by with no deaths - sort of like the Grim Reaper visited. Sorry for your loss.

Last edited by Zouave; 10-04-2005 at 10:00 PM.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-05-2005, 10:38 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone for your sympathies. These replies helped a lot. (BTW, my deceased gerbil was named Mama Gerbil, for obvious reasons.) I had no idea about the 'cleaning up' instinct in gerbils... My mom isn't always the most reasonable person, but I'll explain all this to her to prove Mr. Gray didn't kill her mother. I hope to get a new gerbil and try using a split-screen. =) ::hopeful::

And Zouave, I'm sorry about your hamster. =( I am envious, though, that you were there with him during his last moments. I wasn't able to be there with Mama Gerbil. Darn school. ><
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-05-2005, 10:46 PM
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Thanks, but Petey was a gerbil. I have not lost any Syrian hamsters in quite awhile. But since five here are the same age they will eventually start to go around the same time; that happened before.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-06-2005, 08:55 AM Thread Starter
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Oi. The word 'hamster' must've popped into my head because of your avatar.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-06-2005, 08:47 PM
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Oh yea. What's sad is that all those in the avatar have passed away. There are two of Princess, a great favorite. You can see them all on my:
Memorial Photo Gallery
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-15-2008, 08:06 PM
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My Sympathies

I am so sorry for both of is so hard to lose your little babies. And I am envious also that you got to hold your little sweetie in your hand and hold his paw when he passed away. I had just stepped out onto my deck for 3 minutes and when I came back into the house, my gerbil Mick was gone. Just passed away while I was outside and it killed me that I was not there when it happened. I had held him a few times before when I thought he would pass away soon but it did not happen. I wish I could have been holding him and whispering soothing words to him when he died. I am sorry about your losses and believe me, I know how horrible it feels inside. Well, our babies are all having a great time in the little critter Nirvana place having a super time and all you can eat snacks and tons of roaming places, right?
Rest in Peace Little Ones.
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