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Anna, Pet Expert/Biologist
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 11418
Experience:  40 yrs.: herps, pocket pets, rabbits, poultry, dogs, horses. Biology degree. Vet assistant.
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My gerbil has bleeding, buldging eyes. It first started

Customer Question

My gerbil has bleeding, buldging eyes. It first started about two weeks ago when I changed his bedding, but it was the same bedding i've always used. Tonight, I changed his bedding again and now it seems to be getting worse. About an hour ago I walked past him and he was and still is standing in the corner on his hind legs, looking like he's "nodding off" like a toddler would. Please help.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.


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. My name is ***** ***** I’m a biologist with a special interest in small animal health. I'm sorry to hear of this problem.

What you've seen coming from Nutmeg's eye isn't blood, but a special secretion called porphyrins. Small rodents, such as mice, rats, and gerbils produce this. However, when they're sick or stressed, they produce too much of it, and it is mistaken for blood. You can read more about it here:

There are several possible causes of bulging eyes. One is glaucoma. This is when the pressure of fluids inside the eye builds up beyond normal levels, causing the eye to bulge. No one knows why gerbils get glaucoma, and there is no treatment in gerbils. The eye can be removed, but the surgery is expensive, and surgery of any kind is risky in small mammals. Most vets don't treat glaucoma in gerbils, but let it run its course. The bulging will get worse and worse, until the eyes prolapse out of its socket. It will eventually dry up and come off.

However, there are other possible causes of a bulging eye that can be treated. An infection is one, and that can be treated with antibiotics. A dental problem can put pressure on the eye from behind, as can an abscess, or a tumor. Because there are conditions that can be treated, it's best to have a vet examine a gerbil with bulging eyes. The following links will take you to directories of vets who treat small rodents. At the first site, you'll come to a log-in page. Sign in as 'member' and use 'member' as your password ***** well.

There is nothing you can do at home for any of the causes of a bulging eye.

No matter what is wrong, there are couple of steps you can take to make your gerbil more comfortable. You can use a preservative-free saline solution (the kind made for contact lenses). Put a drop in each eye several times each day. Wood-based beddings can cause irritations of various types. Cedar and pine are especially bad. It is possible that the company changed something in the way they manufacture your present bedding. It would be better to use a paper-based bedding, such as CareFresh. Finally, keep the lights dim in the gerbil's room. Bright lights can hurt his eyes. These are all first aid measures only, and won't take the place of a visit to a vet.

If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY. I hope nutmeg will be able to recover.


My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Please remember to rate my service only after you have all the information you need. Thank you!

Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.

Hello again. How is Nutmeg doing? I hope she has improved?