Does your gerbil chew the bars of its cage? If so, it could be suffering from an issue known as bar rub. This is a condition in which the gerbil will chew the bars of their cage so much that their skin becomes partially rubbed off and their teeth become misaligned. This problem affects some small mammals kept as pets, perhaps because their cages are too small or because they need more enrichment.
There are a number of causes of bar rub, ranging from boredom to overgrown teeth
Bar rub can be a serious problem, so it’s best to treat it when you notice it happening. Below are some potential solutions to the problem.
Provide more enrichment
Sometimes gerbils can chew bars out of boredom. If they lack the right enrichment in their enclosure, they can chew bars out of boredom as well as the desire to escape the cage and find something entertaining.
Before you buy any extras to try to make your pets’ lives more interesting, it’s good to make sure that they have all the essentials - do they have enough bedding to burrow around in? Do they have a wheel that is large enough for them?
Provide a chew toy
One of the big reasons that gerbils chew their bars is that they are seeking a way to reduce the length of their teeth. A gerbil’s teeth will grow constantly throughout their lives, and those living in captivity may lack all the hard food they need in order for their teeth to wear down naturally. This means that a gerbil’s teeth can become overgrown - if this begins to happen, an obvious solution for your pet is to chew whatever it can get its paws on - even if this is something as hard as metal bars!
Try giving your gerbils something to munch on
Purchasing a special gerbil chew or gnaw and leaving it in your pets’ cage means that they always have access to something that is safe for them to chew. It will be made of a wood that doesn’t splinter easily, and it will be much better for their cheeks and teeth than chewing on metal!
Play with them more
Sometimes gerbils chew the bars of their cage because they want to get out - a potential solution is to remove your pets from the enclosure for a cuddle and a play a little more often. If they get more time out of the enclosure to run around, then they may have less incentive to get out of their own little home.
Buy a bigger cage
If your gerbil is constantly chewing, it could be trying to escape its cage. One of the big causes of this is that their cage is too small. If they need a bigger space, the obvious thing for them to do is to try to get out and have a little more space to roam around in. If you’ve tried all of the above and the problem still persists, then you may have to buy a bigger cage.