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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-27-2013, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Kind of discouraged...

I got 2 male gerbils about a year ago and honestly, it's been a little discouraging. I feed them and try to hold them once or twice a day, and they still don't like being handled. I can feed them out of my hand inside the tank and they're fine, but as soon as I take them out, they try to squirm away. I know it shouldn't be like this after a whole year. I want them to like me and it makes me sad to see them not getting to live their short lives to the fullest. It makes me sad that I can't get them out and play with them in my room for fear that I won't be able to catch them. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated!! I guess at this point I'm a little bit desperate.


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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-27-2013, 10:44 PM
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I haven't had gerbils in several years but I recall that one of mine was never very friendly, and another did okay. Never great, but okay. It may be that you have the bad luck of the draw to get some gerbils who are more skittish either because of genetics or the wrong kind of early socialization at a critical period. Generally speaking, I've found most of them to be among the more skittish of pocket pets.

That said, there's tons of tips on hand taming gerbils out there. I'm assuming you've looked already, but in case you haven't, here's a few. Maybe some will have suggestions you haven't tried yet:

http://www.wikihow.com/Tame-Your-Gerbils
http://www.twinsqueaks.com/tips-archive/tip031403.html
http://agsgerbils.org/pdf/Store_Brochure.pdf
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2OU8ImusSE


Good Luck!


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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-27-2013, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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Thankyou for that! One of mine, Moe, is like you said, just "okay". The other one, Louie, doesn't seem very comfortable around me at all, except for when he wants a treat from me. I'm just disappointed that they aren't able to play on the floor and have more fun. Thanks for the links, I've already read some of them but I'll check out the ones I haven't.


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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-28-2013, 09:44 AM Thread Starter
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In English please...


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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-28-2013, 10:04 AM
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Yay. Swac is a spambot. Ignore. I'm reporting.

As for the actual thread...Have you thought about creating an enclosed play area for them? Gerbils are really good climbers and notorious escape artists, so you'd want something they couldn't scale but there are a lot of cheap options with a little creativity and minimal construction skills.

For example, I created an enclosed wall out of corrigated plastic and bulldog clips for my rats. You could create an area big enough where you could lay down with them on the floor. while you're hanging out.


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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-28-2013, 10:29 AM Thread Starter
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I actually have done something like that before. Occasionally, I let them play in the bathtub because it's a space where they can run around freely but I won't lose them.


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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-29-2013, 01:35 PM Thread Starter
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I just ordered them a tank topper and I think this is going to make them much happier. Also I've been trying to hold them more often, which should help with their friendliness. I think things are going to get better!


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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-30-2013, 02:03 PM
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They'll love the wiggle room! My gerbils loved the extra exploration. A metal topper like Martin's makes will discourage their tendency to chew escape holes

Spending more time daily will habituate them to handling for sure, especially if they get treats and such while doing it. Also, try bonding pouches and wear a dedicated 'gerbil' shirt/hoodie.

I've been thinking in terms of just gerbils, but if I apply what I know of rats, all rodents scent mark to determine not only territory, but to quickly recognize safe places. If you wear the same shirt each time, they'll pee on it, and claim it and you, as their safe place. I also rub my hands in their urine when I'm handling them, so I smell like them. I had a nippy hamster that nipped me less if I dirtied my hands in his bedding.


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Last edited by Storyseeker; 06-30-2013 at 02:09 PM.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-30-2013, 06:30 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for more good tips! I will definitely try the gerbil hoody idea, but I'm not sure if I purposefully want to get their pee on my hands. Haha I'm a little too much of a germaphob for that!


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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-30-2013, 07:17 PM
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That's what showers are for. But in all honesty, I'm not sure I'd be happy with Gerbil pee either. They're pretty stinky.


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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-12-2014, 12:20 AM
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Gerbils definitely do not like to be cuddled. What I do with Nozomu is I will leave her cage open and sit by it. She runs out, runs onto my shoulder and stays there for a bit then runs back into the cage. It's completely on her own terms.

Try offering treats further and further from the cage mouth, making the gerbil come out and to you to enjoy their favorite treat
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