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Can Gerbils Swim?

Gerbils can make such interesting pets. They are relatively easy to keep and can make such wonderful companions. Still, there are naturally many questions out there from first-time gerbil owners about how to care for their new furry companions.

Many assume that the care of a gerbil is similar to other rodents or even rabbits, but gerbils have some unique care requirements that you must be aware of.

New owners often want to know whether their gerbils can swim and whether it is acceptable to bathe your gerbil so we decided to delve into this subject a little deeper.

So, can gerbils swim? Yes, gerbils can swim, should the need arise. However, gerbils dislike swimming as well as being in the water, so you are unlikely to see one swimming. Bodies of water do not factor into a gerbil’s natural habitat.

In this guide, we’ll discuss this issue in more detail and also talk about related concerns, such as what to do if your gerbil gets wet and how you can bathe your gerbil safely and comfortably.

Can Gerbils Swim?

Gerbils are not known for their natural swimming afinity and you will not often find a gerbil swimming in water voluntarily.

When looking at the gerbil’s natural habitat it is clear to see that the need for them to be in the water is traditionally very slim.

Gerbils can be found in the sandy plains of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia where the temperatures are hot and the atmosphere is very dry. Natural water sources are very scarce and therefore gerbils are not traditionally used to dealing with an environment where swimming is required.

Gerbils do have the ability to swim should they need to. This is only likely to occur in very rare circumstances or in the case of an absolute emergency.

Still, gerbils do not like swimming and they do not like having wet fur. As a gerbil owner, you should not expect your gerbil to want to swim or be happy to have a bath with water.

What Happens if My Gerbil Gets Wet?

In an ideal world, gerbils should not get wet. There are not many instances where it is likely your gerbil’s fur will become wet, but you can never say never. Situations can sometimes arise such as a leaky water bottle, an unseen puddle on the floor, etc.

Unfortunately, gerbils do not do very well with wet fur. It can be very uncomfortable for them and cause their fur to become matted and unruly.

They can also become cold very quickly if their fur becomes wet and you should not rule out the possibility of hypothermia. If cold and wet a gerbil can lose heat much faster than their body is able to produce heat which could be fatal.

If for some reason your gerbil does become wet you must ensure that you dry them off with a towel straight away to warm them up and remove any excess water on their fur. You may want to wrap them in a dry towel or another warm material to keep them warm as they dry thoroughly, just in case.

The faster you respond the less chance there is of something extreme like hypothermia occurring. Hypothermia is a life-threatening condition and your gerbil may die if you do not rectify the situation promptly.

How Can I Bathe My Gerbil?

As you can guess, gerbils should not be bathed in water. However, this isn’t to say that you are not able to bathe them. They just require a completely different method to conventional bathing.

Instead of using water, you can give your gerbil a sand bath which is much more preferable to our furry friends – and much safer too.

We have a full guide to the best sandbaths for gerbils, so we’ll just get into why they’re a good idea here.

Sand baths involve your gerbil rolling around in a bath or container full of sand. This may seem a rather strange way to bathe but for gerbils, this is the best way to carry out this grooming activity. The sand is soft on their delicate fur and helps remove any grease and debris from the coat.

Since this species comes from a desert environment they are accustomed to cleaning themselves in the sand. It is also a completely safe way to give your gerbil a bath and will not affect their body temperature like using water does.

Providing your gerbil a sand bath at least once a week will ensure their coat stays clean and healthy. Most owners choose to provide a bath a couple of time s a week since gerbils love to roll around in the sand. It doubles up as a fun activity.

However, do not allow your gerbil constant free access to sand baths since this can have a negative effect. Sand is very dry and can therefore cause skin conditions with prolonged use.

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