Things You'll Need
Gerbils have found a niche as one of the most popular starter pets for novice pet owners. A small, ratlike creature of the Rodentia family, there are more than 100 species of gerbils worldwide. Gerbils make good starter pets because of their gentle nature and the fact that they are easy to care for, although they can become infested with parasites such as fleas. Ridding your gerbil of fleas can be a tedious process, but it is necessary for the health and well-being of your pet.
Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to have your gerbil examined for fleas. A number of parasites, such as fleas and mites, are similar in appearance but require different courses of treatment. Your vet will look for adult fleas and eggs on your gerbil and can answer any questions you might have about exterminating them.
Bathe your gerbil thoroughly with a flea shampoo specifically designed for rodents. Fill the sink with a couple inches of warm water and place your gerbil gently in the water, wetting her coat thoroughly and lathering her well with a few drops of shampoo. Allow the shampoo to sit on her coat for a few minutes to remove as many fleas as possible. Rinse well with plenty of clean water and wrap her in a warm towel to keep her from getting chilled.
Dust your clean gerbil with a small amount of flea powder. The powder will help kill fleas or eggs that may still be on your gerbil and will help repel new fleas from infesting him. Apply the powder daily until you notice the fleas are completely gone.
Clean your gerbil’s cage to remove any fleas living in her bedding. Killing off fleas on your gerbil does no good if her cage is infested, so throw away all bedding and wash the cage thoroughly with plenty of bleach and hot water. Wash any soft fabric hammocks or tunnels in her cage on the hottest water setting possible and run them through the dryer. The bleach and high temperatures will kill off remaining adult fleas or eggs that might be hiding in her bedding.
Vacuum the area around your cage to remove any fleas that may have escaped your initial cleaning. Remove any rugs and furniture from the room and vacuum thoroughly to pick up any adults or eggs in the room. Repeat the vacuuming routine daily until you are sure you have eliminated your flea infestation.
Be diligent when treating your gerbil for fleas. Parasites are often brought in from the outside on other domestic pets, so check them for fleas as well if you notice any of them on your gerbil.
Do not use any pesticides on your gerbil that are not specifically designed for rodents. Many commercial flea-control products have been tested on larger pets but are toxic to gerbils, so read the labels carefully and ask your vet if you are unsure.
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.