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Gerbil’s Tail Turns Black

What would make a white gerbil’s tail suddenly turn black?

Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
Posted: November 29, 2013, 9 a.m. EST

white gerbil walking
© Isabell Francais/I-5 Publishing
This gerbil is healthy, but loss of blood flow can cause damage to any part of the body.

Q: I have a serious question about my all white gerbil. She’s all white, but now her tail is curved and turning black. Is it broken?

A: Without seeing or examining your gerbil, it is impossible to tell what exactly is causing the tale changes. It likely could be that the vertebra (bones) of the tail are fractured, and this has led to the tail turning a darker color.

How does that happen? With fractures and other damage to the tail, if the blood vessels are also damaged during the injury, the vessels may not heal properly. If the vessels do not heal properly, then there is no longer any blood flow to the areas below the damaged part of the tail. Once tissue no longer has any blood supply, it is called devitalized. Devitalized tissue starts turning colors and eventually the tissue is black.

Sometimes, this damaged part of the tail will fall off on its own. Other times, it becomes infected because devitalized tissue is a breeding ground for bacteria.

This condition is painful to your gerbil and is potentially fatal if the bacteria enter other healthy tissue of the body. If the black area is devitalized tissue, your veterinarian can amputate the tail where it is black and remove any further possibility of pain and infection from this damaged area.

See all veterinary Q&A about gerbils, click here>>
See veterinary Q&A for all small animal pets, click here>>

Posted: November 29, 2013, 9 a.m. EST


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