Endoparasitic Worm Infection
Tapeworms belong to a category of endoparasitic flatworms. And much like in other animals, gerbils can contract the parasites in many ways, including ingesting contaminated water or food. There are two types of tapeworms which can infect gerbils: the dwarf tapeworm (Rodentolepis nano) and the rat tapeworm (Hymenolepis diminuta). The dwarf tapeworm, in particular, can be transmitted to humans. Therefore, remain cautious when handling gerbils with this kind of tapeworm. Fortunately, a gerbil with either type of tapeworm infection can be easily treated.
A gerbil suffering from a tapeworm infection will generally display no external signs, however, it may be dehydrated or have diarrhea. In severe cases, the gerbil may have little appetite and eat less, which leads to weight loss and muscle wasting.
Gerbils can contract tapeworms by coming in contact with an infected animal's feces, or ingesting contaminated food or water. Cockroaches, beetles or fleas can also spread this infection.
A veterinarian will typically diagnose tapeworm infections by microscopically examining the gerbil's fecal matter for tapeworm eggs.