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Gerbil Loses Part Of Tail

What can be done to help a gerbil that has degloved or lost part of his tail?

Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
Posted: October 30, 2014, 5:50 p.m. EDT

sleeping gerbil
© Courtesy Erik Pheifer
A gerbil's tail is normally fully furred and even has a tuft at the end.

Q: The end of my gerbil’s tail was degloved about 3/4 of an inch off the tip. Do I need to take her to the veterinarian, or can I treat this at home? I've cleaned the tail with warm water and put ointment on it. I've read different ways to treat this injury. What’s the best way?

A: The safest answer is to always visit a veterinarian when this type of injury happens. A degloving injury, to any animal, means that the hair and skin have been "pulled off” the body as one might pull a glove off the hand. No matter how much skin is removed with a degloving injury, this is something a veterinarian should examine for two reasons — pain and infection. 

As you can imagine, if your skin is traumatically ripped off, that is very painful and continues to be painful until it heals. Your veterinarian has medication that is safe and effective for gerbils that have had traumatic injuries. 

Skin is considered an organ and part of its function is as a barrier to bacteria and fungi. If the skin is damaged or removed, these organisms have a clear pathway to attack the body. Your veterinarian can prescribe safe and effective antibiotics for your gerbil to help protect against infection finding its way into your gerbil’s body. 

Finally, degloving injuries are always due to trauma. Something in your gerbil’s environment caused this injury whether it was a toy, a part of the enclosure or an unsupervised child playing with the gerbil. Your veterinarian should be able to go over with you some methods to prevent this type of injury from occurring again.

Like this article? Please share it, and check out:
Life With Your First Gerbil
Train Your Gerbil To Do Tricks 

See all veterinary Q&A about gerbil health 
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Posted: October 30, 2014, 5:50 p.m. EDT

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