Eek! What should I do about my gerbil’s slightly skinned tail?

Pocket pet owner writes, 'Eek! What should I do about my gerbil's slightly skinned tail?' Dr. Baum writes the prognosis depends on injury, advises how to handle.

Dear Dr. Baum —

My gerbil ran from my hand and while I was trying to catch him I stripped some skin from his tail. How do I treat it and will the hair grow back?

Thank you,
Wayne Riggle
Orlando, Florida

Dear Wayne —

The prognosis varies with the severity of the injury. If you ripped a full thickness piece of skin that leaves a significant portion of the underlying tissue exposed, that portion will ultimately dry up and die. Less severe injuries should heal by simply applying an antibiotic ointment regularly that will keep the underlying tissue moist. The downside of an ointment is that bedding in the cage can adhere to it. This most commonly occurs with shavings so I advise changing to a litter like Yesterday’s News which has a larger particle size.

Good luck!
Dr. B


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