Q: My gerbil can’t open her eyes, and it looks like conjunctivitis, I don’t know what to do, and I’m really worried. She is 2 years and 8 months old. What is wrong with her? What can I do to help her?
A: When gerbils get sick, for almost any reason, they start appearing lethargic and they may close their eyes. So when we see closed eyelids in a sick gerbil, this may be a nonspecific sign of disease. We need to investigate with a physical examination and possibly bloodwork and radiographs to determine what is wrong the gerbil.
On the other hand, pet gerbils do get conjunctivitis, which needs to be treated promptly before any permanent damage can occur to the structures of the eye. Conjunctivitis usually is associated with eye discharge, redness and swelling of the tissues around the eyes, and even discharge from the nose.
Your veterinarian should be able to differentiate between conjunctivitis and a more serious whole body illness.