Endoparasitic Worm Infection
There are many different kinds of endoparasitic worm infections. One very common intestinal parasite infection in pet gerbils is due to pinworms. And much like in other animals, gerbils can contract the pinworms in many ways, including ingesting contaminated water or food. Fortunately, a gerbil suffering from a pinworm infection can be easily treated.
A gerbil suffering from a pinworm infection will generally display no external signs, however, it may be dehydrated or have diarrhea. In severe cases, the gerbil may have little appetite and eat less, which leads to weight loss and muscle wasting. Moreover, if left untreated for a long period of time, the gerbil may develop a swollen abdomen and a rough hair coat; swelling may also occur in its extremities, such as the feet.
Gerbils can contract pinworms by coming in contact with an infected animal's feces, or ingesting contaminated food or water. Cockroaches, beetles or fleas can also spread this infection.
A veterinarian will typically diagnose pinworm infections by microscopically examining the gerbil's fecal matter for pinworm eggs.
There are several antihelminthic drugs your veterinarian can prescribe which are formulated to kill pinworms. These drugs can be either mixed in your gerbil's food or water. If the gerbil has had the pinworm infection for an extended period of time, it may need fluid and electrolyte therapy. Your veterinarian may even recommend vitamin and mineral supplements to stabilize the gerbil and improve its overall health.
Living and Management
The gerbil's cage should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, as there may still be pinworm eggs in the cage. Otherwise, follow your veterinarian's supportive care regimen and keep the gerbil's living environment pest-free.
Maintaining good sanitation and hygienic condition inside the gerbil’s cage, as well as regular deworming treatments, will help prevent tapeworm infections in gerbils.
Featured Image: iStock.com/David Kenny
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