How To Comfort A Dying Gerbil?

Gerbils are small, sweet, and well-mannered pets that can quickly become part of the family. Having them around becomes very normal and quite comforting, but when it comes to their last moments, is there a way that you can comfort gerbils as they pass on? 

The ways to comfort a dying gerbil include keeping your gerbil warm, petting and holding your gerbil, feeding your gerbil treats, and minimizing noise. This process will differ in length depending on each pet, but be patient with the process and allow your gerbil as many comforts as possible. 

No matter how big or small a pet is, when it comes to their last moments on earth, you want to ensure that they are as comfortable, cared for, and loved as possible. Although there may not be anything you can do to prevent the inevitable end of their life, there are certain measures you can take to make sure they have a peaceful end. Take a look below to find out all the different ways you can comfort a dying gerbil. 

Keep Your Gerbil Warm 

If your gerbil is headed towards its last breaths, it can be so difficult to not only get through the process in one piece as their loving owner, but it can be even more difficult to figure out just what they need during their last moments. Gerbils are rather simplistic creatures and when it comes to death, they tend to follow suit. Although there is not a lot that they need, there are a few things that might keep them a bit more comfortable as they pass on. 

One of the first things you can do to comfort your gerbil when it is dying is to keep it as warm as possible. As its body shuts down, it will lose body heat, which will cause it to become quite cold. Because of this, it is important to offer your gerbil something that will keep it warmer than usual. 

To keep your gerbil warm, you can, at the very least, put a few extra cloths in its cage to snuggle within. These aren’t great heat conductors, so they may not be enough for your gerbil and if this is the case, you can put a warm water bottle either in their cage with a thin towel wrapped around it, or right outside of their cage where your gerbil is lying. They will locate the source of heat if strong enough, and snuggle up next to it. 

A safe heat mat can also be used for gerbils, just be sure that you have the heat at a low level and that there is plenty of cloth between the pad and your gerbil. You want your pet to be able to stay nice and warm, but you want to avoid overheating them, as this can cause incredible discomfort and can actually result in a quicker death than its body was naturally tending towards. 

Pet Your Gerbil 

At the very beginning of their lives, gerbils are typically very active, rambunctious, and curious pets who love to play and explore. Due to their nature, they can sometimes be rather resistant to petting in their younger years, but as they age, many tend to be much more welcoming of this. If your gerbil is the type of pet who is happy to be pet every now and again, this may be something they would enjoy when they are in the final moments of life. 

If your gerbil is dying, it can be very comforting to some if they are gently pet. If your gerbil found comfort in petting before they began to die, it is very likely that they will receive the same comfort when they are pet very easily during their final hours.

If you do not wish to hold your gerbil, simply take a few fingers, or even just one, and gently stroke the top of their back and head, going with the growth pattern of their hair. This touch may calm your gerbil as they feel their owner’s presence and may ease their discomfort just a bit. Be sure that your touch is extremely light, very slow, and as soothing as possible to avoid startling your gerbil or causing more discomfort. 

Petting your gerbil can also be a great way to help keep your pet warm. As previously noted, when in the process of dying, gerbils tend to get very cold. Therefore, by using your warm touch to gently stroke them, heat is placed on their bodies which can work as a secondary benefit to not only comforting them with touch but keeping them warm. 

Hold Your Gerbil 

Gerbils are not particularly still animals, but as they age, they tend to become more docile and will allow for their owners to hold them. At first, this may seem foreign to them as they resist, but over time, if your gerbil is more conforming to your body and will allow you to hold it for longer moments, holding your gerbil as it is dying may also bring quite a bit of comfort. How then do you hold a gerbil when it is passing away? 

To hold your gerbil correctly when it is dying, the most important things to remember are comfort for your pet and gentleness from you. If your pet is not injured, but is simply naturally passing on, bring them to your chest and drape a warm material over its body to keep in heat. 

By placing your gerbil on your chest, or even keeping them very still on your lap or within your hands, you allow your gerbil to not only be close to you, but have a place that is warm and safe. This can be such a comfort for those gerbils who don’t mind human contact, but can also be such a relief for owners as they are able to spend those last moments with their beloved pet. 

Keep in mind, if your gerbil is dying due to an injury, it is best to allow them to remain in their cage with other comforts as moving them may cause more harm. Also note that if your gerbil is resistant to you bringing them out of their cage, allow them space and try to comfort them in other ways as well. As their owner, the last thing you want to do is cause distress in a time where they are already rather uncomfortable. 

Give Your Gerbil Treats 

Speaking of giving your gerbil space, if your pet is not one that really ever enjoyed being pet, does not prefer to be picked up and handled, or simply wants to be in solitude as it passes away, you may feel rather helpless. This can be frustrating as a gerbil owner, as you want your pet to be as comfortable as possible when it is nearing its end, however, touch is not the only type of comfort out there. 

© Sinead Stout / Flickr

If your gerbil is dying and you are looking for other ways to comfort it during this time, consider giving it some of its favorite treats. You may know exactly what your gerbil likes by now, but if not, giving them items like pears, melon, cucumber, or pumpkin can be a great way to keep them happy. 

The key to giving your gerbil treats as it is dying is to not force them. This can be difficult for some owners, as they may feel the need to try and get their pet to eat to help sustain them, but some gerbils may have little to no appetite when their bodies are slowly shutting down. Therefore, simply lay the treat next to them so that it is easily accessible if they are weak and allow them to nibble on the item as they please. 

If your gerbil is still strong enough to walk and has a bit of an appetite, consider giving them the treat from your hand. This will enable them to get a bit more activity in, but will also allow you both to continue bonding throughout the dying process. This may be a simple act, but for many owners, those last moments of interaction are treasured and welcomed. However, if this is not possible for your gerbil, simply lay the treat beside them, as previously noted. 

Minimize Loud Noises 

When your gerbil was in a healthy state, it is likely that it thrived with the hustle and bustle of your household, using those noises as a way to wake up, interact, and begin playing. However, once your gerbil enters into the process of dying, they may find those once exciting noises to be rather disturbing and alarming. Noise is something that is inevitable in any home, but is there a way to make it a bit more bearable for your gerbil? 

If your gerbil is dying, one simple thing you can do to make it comfortable is to decrease the noise in your home. This means, try to avoid slamming doors, loud music or televisions, yelling or screaming, and keep things as peaceful as possible in their environment. 

It is impossible to cease all noise in your house, but if you notice that your gerbil begins to breathe faster when a loud noise comes or that it jerks to the sound rather than casually looking towards it, it may be that the sound is bothering them more than usual. If you notice this happening with your gerbil, try to minimize noise as much as possible within your home to give them a more peaceful environment. 

If your gerbil is in an area with a lot of foot traffic and an overwhelming amount of visitors, it may be impossible to get rid of noise. However, rather than leaving your gerbil in this spot, transfer its cage to a quieter area so that your pet can have a bit of reprieve from the hustle and bustle. Just be sure that this move is gentle, calm, and does not rouse the gerbil too much, as this can create panic.  

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