Have you ever heard about Tapeworms? Tapeworm is one of the endoparasitic flatworms that can infect live beings, including animals like gerbils. Gerbils usually contract tapeworm parasites from ingesting contaminated food or water. However, not all types of tapeworms can infect gerbils but only two types of them which are the rat tapeworm and the dwarf tapeworm. Now, there is bad news and good news about tapeworms on gerbils. The bad news is, the dwarf tapeworm one can also be transmitted to us, humans. But the good news is, infected gerbil can be easily treated.
One of the main important things to know how we should treat an infected gerbil is to know how the infection comes in the first place; to know the source of the tapeworms, the symptoms, and the causes. From there, we can figure out how to prevent the infection of tapeworms either to the gerbils or to humans.
Tapeworms on gerbil: how it comes?
In the previous article, we talk about how Salmonella bacteria can get transmitted to pet hamsters through contaminated food or bidding. So does with tapeworms on a gerbil. The gerbil can get infected by this endoparasitic flatworm when they consume contaminated food and water, contact with infected other animal’s feces, or get it from insects like beetles, cockroaches, and fleas.
Tapeworms have three stages of the lifecycle, from egg, larva or immature stage, and the last is the adult stage, in which the worm can produce more eggs.
The symptoms and Diagnosis
Generally, gerbils do not display obvious signs when they are infected by a tapeworm. However, they may experience diarrhea and dehydrated, with only little appetite, followed by weight and muscle loss. Since there is no physical sign from the infected gerbil, the best way to diagnose it is with the help of a veterinarian. Typically, tapeworm infections can be diagnosed by microscopically examining the fecal of gerbil to find any tapeworm eggs. That is not something that we can do, isn’t it?
Treatment and How to Prevent the Infection
Once the vet diagnosed and examined the gerbil, the vet will prescribe several antihelminthic drugs to kill the tapeworms inside the gerbil. In some cases, the gerbil might also need fluid and electrolyte therapy, especially if it has been infected with the tapeworms for a long period. It can be a little bit tricky to make the gerbil take the meds, so usually, the owner will mix with the gerbil’s food or water. The gerbil may also need to take vitamins and supplements to improve its health and condition.
Even though treating infected gerbil is not that hard, it is always better for us to prevent it to happen in the first place.
You can prevent or at least reduce the risk of your gerbil from getting tapeworm transmission by following these steps:
1. Maintain the cleanness
Regularly clean and disinfect the gerbil’s cage to make its surrounding environment pest-free. Remember that tapeworms can infect the gerbil from contaminated food, water, and feces, as well as from cockroaches and fleas! So keep the cage stay clean and hygienic is the main step that you have to do if you don’t want your gerbil to get infected by this little deadly parasite.
2. Keep the food and water source clean
Make sure you put the food and the water for gerbil in a safe place from the pest animals. Change the water or food if it has been put down for so long and replace it with the fresh and new one.
3. Additional check-ups and treatments
Also, take the gerbil to the vet for regular medical check-up and deworming treatments.
Tapeworms and Humans
Not only animals, but tapeworms can also infect the owners, humans. The main cause of tapeworm infection in human s is from the consumption of undercooked meat from infected animals. Remember about the tapeworm’s life stage? The larva, or the immature stage, can get into the muscles of the host (or in this case, the animals that get infected by it), which is the part of what we eat as a ‘meat’. Once we consume the contaminated uncooked meat with the larva in it, the larva will stay and reproduce inside our ingestion system.
Tapeworms on gerbil can also transmit to humans if we don’t take care of the infected gerbil carefully. Tapeworms can cause few symptoms, such as nausea, weakness, diarrhea, hunger or loss of appetite, fatigue, abdominal pain, along with weight loss and vitamin and mineral deficiencies And even though it is rare, in some cases, tapeworms can be life-threatening with some serious complications like blocking the intestine.
Tapeworms are passed with bowel movement. Hence, maintaining the cleanness before we eat is important to prevent the infection. The risk of getting tapeworms can increase if we don’t wash our hands regularly, especially after wiping or preparing food so we don’t contaminate it. If you think that you have tapeworms, go to the doctor immediately to get it examined and treated.
Another endoparasitic worm on the gerbil
Beside tapeworm, gerbil can also get infected by pinworms. It is one of the common intestinal problems in gerbils. Just like in the tapeworm’s case, the pinworms can get into gerbils from the consumption of contaminated water, food, and other animal’s feces. It also has no external symptoms, but the gerbil will be dehydrated and have diarrhea, with loss of appetite, loss of weight, and muscle wasting. In a long period, the gerbil will also have a swollen abdomen, swollen feet, and a rough hair coat.
The treatment of a gerbil who gets infected by pinworm is also the same as the one with tapeworm. It may be one of the common health issues in gerbil, but it can be easily treated as long as you hand it down to the experienced veterinarian.
That’s all about tapeworms on gerbil. Hopefully it helps!