Weeks of Bedrest …. for a gerbil


So you remember those gerbils I told you about. The lovely little baby gerbils that we’ve had for all of 3 weeks (if that)?  

There’s been a bit of a calamity. One of them, the most adventurous one, has broken her leg. We noticed when we got them out today that she wasn’t using her front right leg and immediately made an appointment with the local vet. She was bright eyed and active, so I wasn’t too worried.

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I should have been. Her leg is badly broken at the elbow – so badly broken that it will move freely in all directions (I’ll take the vet’s word for that). She’s barely big enough to be examined to determine that, so she’s certainly not big enough for the leg to be put in a splint of any kind.

The vet’s first recommendation was euthanasia. Bean sobbed uncontrollably. I almost joined him. Surely that should be a last resort? She’s so young – just two months old and so active, even now, that it seemed cruel to put her to sleep without trying anything else first.

The second option was amputation of the leg. Pretty drastic sounding, not to mention expensive, as well as risky. Although she could live perfectly well on three legs, there’s a high risk she wouldn’t make it through the operation.

I asked if leaving it to heal was any kind of option. I had no idea to be honest, but I wanted a way forward that didn’t involve the death of this little one. Apparently, it’s a possibility.

We have to put her in a cage of her own, with no toys, not enough bedding to burrow in, nothing that might entice her to use her leg. She needs to be on bedrest as much as possible. The leg will heal, in that the break will mend, but it’s unlikely to mend in a way that means the leg will be useable. What we have to hope for is that the leg mends in a reasonable position, not sticking out at a funny angle, to limit the chances of it catching on things or getting in the way for her. We also have to hope that it does not become an open fracture, in which case all bets are off.

Doing this clearly means that she will be in pain until the break mends, and that’s not good. So to mitigate it, we have to give her medicine each day. 0.02ml of medicine each day. Straight into her mouth. I’ll let you know how that goes. We also need to take her for regular check ups so the vet can see how it’s going and make sure she’s still happy for this to be the route we take. 

I know this is the sort of thing you have to be prepared for when you have pets, but it seems so unfair. These are his first pets and he’s had them a fortnight and already he’s having to face the possibility of losing one of them.

I hope we’ve made the right decision, for Cinnamon and for Bean.

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