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Anna, Pet Expert/Biologist
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 11544
Experience:  40 yrs.: herps, pocket pets, rabbits, poultry, dogs, horses. Biology degree. Vet assistant.
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Gerbil is walking with her hind legs in the air. Nothing has

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Gerbil is walking with her hind legs in the air. Nothing has happened to her legs to hurt her and she is having trouble walking normally, always front legs down, hind legs up. What could this be?

I apologize that no one has responded to your question sooner. Different experts come online at various times. I just came online and saw your question. I'm sorry to hear that Fionna is having a problem. If you still need help, some additional information will be useful.

Is she able to eat?

Do i understand correctly that she is holding both hind legs up all the time? Does she ever just drag them behind her? Does she fall over? The more description you can give of all her behavior, the better.

Is she passing normal droppings?

Thank you.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks for the reply! You are correct, that both legs are up in the same time, and it almost seems like she is trying to make herself bigger. The height she gets with her hind legs is the height a normal gerbil would get when perching on their hind legs with their front paws in front of them to see what's going on.

She is able to sit with both legs on the ground and since she sits in her food bowl to eat, she hasn't had any problem eating. She has a wire cage and is still able to climb them as she pleases. She also has had no problem getting on the second level of her cage to reach her water bottle.

She has a litter box and as far as I can tell, her droppings are normal.

The biggest problem I see out of this is that she is falling over a lot because of the imbalance. She hasn't been dragging either legs, and she doesn't mind me touching them, but she will fall over while walking or running and sometimes forces herself into little summer-salts, which usually makes her land on her head and back. When she is in my hands, she prefers to sort of jump around instead of walk, and when she sits, her back legs are more spread out than I remember them being. I can't tell if this means there is something wrong with her legs or if that's just a coincidence.
Thank you for getting back to me. This is certainly not normal. The most common reasons for a gerbil to stop using its hind legs are injury, severe constipation, and stroke. You've ruled out an injury and constipation. Fionna is young to have had a stroke, but it does happen once in awhile.

Many gerbils recover from strokes over a period of 2 to 3 weeks. You should remove the wheel and any other toys she may attempt to climb on to decrease the chances of injury because of the imbalance. It's important that during the recovery time, your gerbil be kept warm enough, and gets plenty of food and water. If she reaches a point that she can't get around well, you may have to hand feed and water her. You can give water from a syringe into the side of her mouth. Since she's already eating and drinking well on her own, you probably won't have to worry about this aspect of care. Let her rest and sleep all she wants.

Strokes do sometimes leave permanent effects, such as a tilted head, and sometimes gerbils do die from strokes. There isn't anything else you can do beyond the above steps because there is no veterinary treatment for strokes in gerbils.It is possible that Fionna injured herself in some way, but even if a bone is broken, treatment would be similar to that for a stroke - removing climbing toys and rest. If you feel that it may not have been a stroke or injury, then you may want to have a vet check her over, but the symptoms she is exhibiting will probably have to be resolved on their own. It does sound like she has adapted well to the limitations of her condition.

If you have further questions about this, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope Fionna will make a full recovery.

Anna and other Pet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you so much! The second you said tilted head I realized that you were correct because she has gained a tilt in her head especially when eating and drinking. I removed the layers from her cage and put the food and water on the ground to make it easier for her. I also plan on moving her to a tank instead of the wire cage she's in now to keep her from climbing the wires. Thank you so much!!! I've had such trouble getting a diagnosis and seeing as she is starting to adapt to it, I'm glad to know what was wrong with her. THANK YOU!!!
You're welcome. I hope she will improve with time, but at least if she adapts, she can still have a happy life. No matter what happens, you can be assured you have done all you can.