What Happens if a Gerbil Bites You? {Can Bites be Dangerous?}

Besides being adorably cute, gerbils also come as friendly and sociable little creatures to keep you entertained.

However, while many people are getting interested in owning gerbils, most don’t realize that they also bite. But what happens if a gerbil bites you? Is the bite dangerous? Does it hurt?

What Happens if a Gerbil Bites You?

It can be shocking, painful, and at times disappointing since gerbils are generally friendly animals. If your gerbil bites you, you might get angered and even threaten the gerbil in response. But that does not always work since gerbils are pretty emotional animals and will only become more afraid.

But what happens if your gerbil bites you till you draw blood? Do you punish your gerbil or forgive the pet? How do you even react to stop the gerbil from biting?

As such, we have sought out the best reactions and steps to answer what happens if a gerbil bites you.


How to react if your gerbil bites you

The best reaction to a gerbil’s bites goes a long way in determining the future relationship between you and your pet. Of course, you definitely won’t be rewarding the gerbil for biting you. But the reaction should be precise to avoid future altercations.

Do you think you could be poisoned by a gerbil bite?  Find out in my article here. 

1. Go on the defense

Immediately as your gerbil bites, the natural reaction would be to let go or put them down quickly. However, like most rodents, gerbils have pretty strong teeth, which can unpredictably go deep. Also, quickly pulling away can also scare the gerbil enough to cause them to bite again.

Rather than have this happen, it’s wise to calmly remove the gerbil from the bite while lowering it down. Here, positive reinforcement is best put to use by going on in with defensive techniques.

For starters, you can try blowing air to make the gerbil feel unpleasant. A gentle poke on the gerbil’s nose also works in pushing the pet away from the bite. This works since gerbils always show displeasure behavior by gently tapping their noses.

2. Clean-Up

Despite best efforts, the gerbil bite may go deep enough to cause even a bleeding puncture or wound. Such situations call for a basic first aid procedure, which will have you first clean up the wound with warm running water. This helps remove potential infectious bacteria, hair, dirt, or other materials on the open wound.

After its best to also have a rinse using an anti-bacterial wash to ensure no bacteria is on the bite puncture. With the cleaning done, applying a bandage comes in handy to seal the wound and ensure it remains clean.

Speaking of cleaning up, does your gerbil poop a lot? Find out if this is normal in my article surrounding this topic. 

3. Seek medical help

A gerbil’s mouth carries different bacteria, so there is bound to be an infection, especially if the bite happens to break the skin.

This is especially true if the wound is deep enough so that it possibly requires stitching. Here, a medical professional would offer the best advice on potential infections and how best to counter them.

How to not react if your gerbil bites you

  • Do not provoke or tease the gerbil
  • Do not squeeze your gerbil since it may result in deeper bites
  • Avoid shouting or lod noise which can scare the gerbil
  • Don’t chase the gerbil around its cage after a bite while handling
  • If the gerbil bites and runs to its hideaway, don’t reach out or intervene with open hands

Are gerbil bites dangerous?

Yes. It’s quite an unfortunate truth that Gerbil bites can be dangerous. For starters, gerbils carry many bacteria, and if they enter an open wound, infections are possible. This is especially if the wound is not cleaned thoroughly after the bite.

If it happens the bacteria is present, the gerbil bites become dangerous with the onset of infection. At the start, the most common signs of the injury infection include

  • Swelling on the bite wound
  • Pus forms inside the puncture
  • The wound turns red around the edges.

If the signs do show up, it would be best to see a doctor on the best antibiotics to counter the wound infection.

Gerbils can fight each other, but do they kill? This is something you should know and I’ve linked this article for the health of your pet gerbil. 

How you can prevent gerbil bites or scratches


While reacting correctly to your gerbil bite matters, preventive measures go a long way in eliminating early behavior. Understand that not gerbil bites emanate from the pet’s absurd reaction.

As the pet parent, you are also responsible for why your gerbil ends up biting. This gives you the sole responsibility of learning how best to reduce and avoid possible gerbil bites.

1. Use cues

Like all pets, gerbils also respond to sound, signals, and even gestures from their owners. This works best, especially when dealing with a scared gerbil that often bites.

Approaching such a gerbil slowly while holding out your hand showcases, you are ready to pick it up. Hand gestures are also vital here since they are the ones exposed to handling the gerbil.

2. Clean hands

At times, clean hands make the difference between a gerbil bite or not. It would help if you noted that gerbils could become aggressive due to you having a gerbil smell on your hands. The smell from another gerbil can make another aggressive enough to bite.

Also, consider that having food in your hand can result in a bite reaction from your gerbil. The smell might be irritating enough to cause biting or scratching. So, be sure to wash and disinfect your hands before and after handling a gerbil.

3. Be social with your gerbil

Poorly socialized gerbils also tend to bite their pet owners. Often, endless days in the gerbil cages make such pets truly anti-social to anyone trying to handle or even feed them.

Preventing such antisocial behavior, including biting, takes spending time with the gerbil to have them learn who you are. Start by often speaking to the gerbil for it to recognize your voice.

Offering treats like sunflower seeds also work like a charm since the gerbil starts to trust you enough to eat from your hand. Over time, this makes the gerbil confident in you handling and feeding it to the extent of willingly coming to your hand.

4. Take caution

Gerbil bites can also result from straight-out aggressive pets with poor genes or outright scared rodents. Breaking into such a pet might not be easy, so the biting takes time to stop.

For such instances, handling will always be a daunting task. Rather than have gerbil bites each time, it’s always a wise move to figure using glovers. In fact, leather gloves are recommended since they are thick and uncomfortable to prevent the gerbil from making a habit of biting.

5. Know when to ignore the gerbil

At times, the gerbil might actually bite as a sign of trying to get familiar with the owner. It’s also a common escape route, especially when a gerbil feels annoyed when handling it. The best counter for this is to stop irritating your gerbil and when to stop the handling.

6. Get a Vet

Fear, unfamiliar environment, and stress can cause a gerbil to be aggressive. However, if you cannot figure out why the biting happens, it’s best to seek a vet’s help. Here, the vet may determine if possible illness or an underlying genetic problem is responsible for making the gerbil aggressive.

As you can tell, gerbils generally bite only under certain circumstances. Generally, they are sociable animals, with nibbling being their best jobs. Take these tips and tricks to practice when a gerbil bites you and biting problems with being a thing of the past.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my gerbil nibble me?

Since gerbils are social creatures, a nibble is their best interaction with your hands when you are holding it. A nibble is like a painless chewing motion, often mistaken for potential bites. Your gerbil may nibble your hands due to the smell, wanting familiarity of general curiosity about you.

Do gerbils carry diseases?

Yes. Like most rodents, gerbils have the potential to carry diseases that can be directly or indirectly infectious to the pet owners. While the risks are low, the CDC still recommends watching out for diseases from rodents like gerbils.

Do gerbils like to be held?

No. In the wild, gerbils are natural prey animals, which makes them frightened of any animal bigger than them, even humans. However, this does not mean that you can’t hold your gerbil; know when it’s best and how best to do it. Handling especially is key to how a gerbil responds to your contact in the future.


My name is Anna and I work full time in my local pet shop where we sell many animals that I write about on this site. I love all animals and love writing about them.