Gerbils are pets that are sociable and fond of company. They are terrific pets for children to have as they help teach them about the responsibility of looking after something. However, they do need adult supervision as things can turn if they are not monitored closely.
Gerbils enjoy living in groups and enjoy the social aspect of life. Unlike hamsters, who often prefer to live alone, gerbils thrive from the company of their kin.
They are known to scrap with each other and can do so in two ways
By play fighting or fighting seriously
What is gerbil play fighting?
When you have an animal that is as energetic and inquisitive as a gerbil, putting it with other gerbils will lead to some interesting scenes.
Often they will chase each other around the tank, have a gerbil-boxing match or tumble over each other pouncing and jumping.
After these scuffles, they will return to what they were doing.
Play fighting is quite normal behavior for gerbils.
It is important for them to do and helps them to get to know themselves and others. Its a way for them to help establish hierarchy within their group.
There are times when it does get more serious and a mere scuffle and it can suddenly get very bloody indeed.
This type of fighting can get very violent and with the intention of the death of another.
Why does gerbil fighting happen?
When kept as pets, gerbils cannot leave the tank if any stress or tension occurs within their family group.
Unfortunately, this can result in behavior that is detrimental to them and the group.
- This happens if there is a hierarchical battle in the group.
- Often there may be a struggle for power when one gerbil gets weaker because of their age of if there are more males than females of a particular breeding age in the group.
- When a mother has daughters that reach a certain age (usually around 6 months), they can often try and kick their mother out of the home.
How do you know when play fighting gets serious
So you can tell that trouble is ahead with a gerbil following a few signs;
- Their coats get puffed up
- They will chatter their teeth at each other
- A gerbil may stop sleeping in the nest
- They may have bite marks on their head
- A gerbil may have bite marks on their head or rump
- They may have bite marks on their tail
- A gerbil may lose weight because of being deprived of food and water
Some of these signs can be hard to pick up on and so its important to keep a close eye on our pets on a frequent basis so that we can identify changes in behavior.
The good thing is that fighting between gerblls is quite rare with most gerbil groups seeking to live closely together.
So as to lower the risk of their behavior deteriorating, it is worth taking into the account the information above so as to identify any indicators that may show that there is trouble brewing.