How to Capture an Escaped Gerbil

On the upside, gerbils don’t generally bite and are nosy and interactive.  On the downside, gerbil escape happens frequently, and they are fast little buggers.  Here are some pro-tips to catch your escaped gerbil.

Oh Crap - My Gerbil Got Out: How to Catch an Escaped Gerbil

  • Lock up any cats, dogs, or ferrets that live in the house, even if they generally ignore the gerbils. The sight of one scurrying across the floor could trigger their prey drive, and even if they don’t catch the gerbil, he will be a lot more frightened if he’s been chased, and harder to catch.
  • Fix her cage. Your gerbil escape happened for a reason.  If she escaped because she chewed a hole in her cage, you can’t put her back.  If you catch her and accidentally release her again, she’ll just learn to avoid traps.
  • Find your gerbil. She’s hiding somewhere, and she’s easier to catch if you set the trap near her.  Escaped gerbils generally stay in a tight, safe area—like under the fridge, in a closet, or behind a large piece of furniture.  If possible, block any exits from that area.
  • Move her cage near her hideout, and keep the door open. Cover her cage with a towel or blanket, and turn off the lights in that room.  She will want to hide somewhere familiar.  If you can place the cage so that it’s covered, but you can see if your gerbil enters, you will probably catch her quickly.  If your gerbil lives in an aquarium, try tipping it on its side and leaving the lid partially open.
  • Put her favorite things in her cage. Gerbils like tissue boxes and toilet paper tubes, and if she has a favorite food, put that in there as well.  Make sure to place the bait as far from the entry point as possible, so that the gerbil is forced to go all the way into the cage.
  • Settle down nearby. Sit somewhere near enough that you can see the gerbil’s path from hideout to cage, but far enough away that she’s not spooked by your presence.  Keep an eye out for when she enters the cage.  She may approach it multiple times to make sure that she’s safe, and she may enter just a step and then bolt if you move.  Wait until she’s completely comfortable in her cage.  It can take some time for the gerbil to return, especially if she found a stash of food in her new hideout (like under the stove.)
  • Wait patiently. Often, they won’t approach the cage until everyone in the house has gone to bed.  They like familiar places, and you will usually find them sleeping in their house when you wake up.
  • Softly and quietly approach the cage and try to get the entrance closed before she realizes that she’s in a trap. Only one person should approach her cage, or she will spook.

Have you dealt with an escape artist?  Tell me in the comments about your hairy gerbil (or other pet!) adventure.

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