Posted: July 27, 2008, 6 a.m. EDT
Q: We have two male gerbils, Drake and Josh. While cleaning their cage, I noticed that one of them has a protruding bottom, and it looks dark. It's difficult to describe but it almost looks like he is stopped up and his poop is just sitting there. He is moving about and I did see him eat, and he seems OK. The other gerbil looks fine. What could the problem be?
A: It is impossible from this description to know what the problem is. Gerbils do get abscesses and tumors, and those would be two conditions on my list of diseases to be concerned about. If you could bring him to the veterinarian, I am sure you would get an answer about what this condition may be, but if you cannot do that right away another option would be to separate your gerbils. If they are bonded neither will be too happy about this, but for a few days it may be very useful to separate them. The purpose of separating them is to see if the one that appears to have a protruding bottom is ill in other regards. By separating them, you’ll know if that gerbil is eating and drinking normally. And, importantly, you’ll know if that gerbil is also defecating and urinating properly. Those are also important questions that your doctor will ask you if you bring the gerbil in for an appointment.