December 30, 2013, 4 a.m. EST
© Isabelle Francais/I-5 Publishing
A healthy gerbil has bright eyes free of discharge.
Q: I've had my gerbil for almost a year now. At first her right eye was puffy and there was a discharge coming out of it and her nose appeared to be bleeding. I thought it was caused by her cage, so I cleaned it out and have been keeping it clean. Now both of her eyes are swollen shut. She doesn't seem to be bothered by this, because she is still active and friendly. I'm not sure what I can do. I'm worried she will lose her eyesight. Please help.
A: It sounds as though your gerbil may have a bacterial or viral infection that is affecting her eyes and also her upper respiratory system. This is common in gerbils, even ones that live in immaculately clean cages and homes. Sometimes, depending on what part of the respiratory tract is affected, there can be discharge that appears bloody but is colored with porphyrins, which can make clear discharge look red.
Regardless, this is telling us that the infection is more widespread than just in the eyes. In most cases, antibiotics, either given orally or placed in the eyes, can clear this infection without further consequences. If you do nothing, it may clear on its own or there can be permanent damage to parts of the respiratory system. For these reasons, because this can become serious, it is important to visit your veterinarian.
See all veterinary Q&A about gerbils, click here>>
See veterinary Q&A for all small animal pets, click here>>