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Gerbils And Catnip

Is catnip harmful to gerbils?

By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, DABVP
Posted: April 27, 2010, 5 a.m. EDT

Q: Will a trace amount of catnip kill or have adverse effects on my gerbil? I bought wicker balls that had a totally contained small bag of catnip, which I removed. I rinsed the remainder of the balls in water and left to dry. Are they safe for him to destroy?

A: It is unlikely that the catnip will have any effect on your gerbil. Catnip seems only to have an effect on cats. Catnip comes from the dried pieces of the plant Nepeta cataria. It is the cat’s keen sense of smell and the affect of this plant on cats that is unique.

Your gerbil should not be affected at all by the catnip. Perhaps more importantly, if this toy had catnip, perhaps it was designed for cats, not gerbils. When purchasing a toy meant for another type of pet, you must check the toy to make sure it cannot harm your pet. Make sure there are no pieces it can ingest, pieces it can break off, or any other potential hazards.

See all of Dr. Rosenthal's Critter Q&A articles>>

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