Elderly gerbils are more likely to develop ear infections than younger gerbils. Gerbils have a relatively short life span, usually between three and five years. Gerbils older than two years may develop rapidly onsetting ear infections. Both middle- and inner-ear infections are common. Left untreated, these infections can be very severe or a sign of a more serious underlying condition.
Symptoms of a middle- or inner-ear infection include scratching and wobbling. Some gerbils may turn uncontrollably or spin when trying to walk.
Symptoms usually develop very rapidly with few warning signs. Take a sick gerbil to the veterinarian for antibiotic treatments. Ask the veterinarian for pain medicine as well, because ear infections are extremely painful for these animals.
If your gerbil does not respond to antibiotic treatments or develops another ear infection soon after treatment, it may have a more serious condition. Aural chloesteatomas are the most common ear disease, though ear and brain tumours may also be the cause.
This condition is a mass in the inner ear caused by protein build-up. These masses are found in 50 per cent of elderly gerbils.
Inner Ear Damage
Aural chloesteatomas and other ear tumours cause elderly gerbils to develop hearing loss and inner-ear damage.
Some inner-ear problems and masses can be treated with surgery. However, it is best to catch ear infections early to avoid surgery or long-term complications.