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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 19638
Experience:  I am a small animal veterinarian and am happy to discuss any concerns & questions you have on any species.
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Our gerbil's breathing is rapid, shallow and labored, and

Customer Question

Our gerbil's breathing is rapid, shallow and labored, and she is not opening her eyes. She is still eating. Her daughter with whom she shares a cage is being very protective of her, and sleeping on top of her. Please advise.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Veterinarian will know how to help the gerbil. What is the gerbil's name and age?
Customer: Hermione. We aren't sure of her age. Her daughter is 1 1/2, so she's at least 2.
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Hermione?
Customer: No, she has been very healthy and normal until about three days ago. :(
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Veterinarian about your situation and connect you two.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

I have to say that I am quite concerned about Hermione.

Her daughter's behavior tells us that we have a serious situation on our hands and that mum is in a vulnerable position. As I am sure you can appreciate, as a prey species, gerbils instinctually try to pretend all is well until their condition is advanced. Furthermore, if she is showing an elevated respiratory rate, weakness, and lethargy; then we'd be concerned that we have a upper airway infection +/- pneumonia here. Less common issues would be heart disease, lung tumors, and poisoning with drugs that compromise clotting.

In this case, you will be limited with what you can do at home. The mainstay here will be to keep her warm (using a warm compress, a heating pad under half the cage, etc), monitor closely and keep her eating/drinking. Otherwise, we'd want to plan to have her seen urgently so that her local vet can listen to her lungs and heart to diagnose which issue is present here. If infection is concerned, we would need her on antibiotics +/- anti-inflammatories and bronchodilating medication to ease her breathing.

Overall, Hermione sounds to be in a precarious state and we need to be proactive here if they are both telling us that she is unwell. Therefore, do keep her warm and support her eating/drinking; but otherwise this is an urgent situation where we'd want to have her seen and treated as soon as possible.

If you don’t already have an exotics vet, you can find one near you at If you are struggling, then also check @ or @ as these vets usually will see pocket pets as well.

Please take care,

Dr. B.


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