Gerbils: nasal dermatitis

Nasal dermatitis is also known as “sore nose”, “facial eczema” and “facial dermatitis”. Incidence of the disease is higher in weanlings than in adults, but is a fairly common condition seen in gerbils.

Trauma, stress, hypersecretion/accumulation of Harderian gland secretions, and superficial bacterial infections, ie Staphylococcus spp, have all been associated with the development of nasal dermatitis.

Stresses such as overcrowding, weaning and environmental variations can cause an increased secretion of porphyrin-containing fluid from the Harderian gland.

Accumulation of these secretions around the nostrils and eyes may result in irritation, self-induced trauma and secondary bacterial infections.

If your gerbil has the condition you will notice the following signs: hair loss, redness of the skin, small areas of skin inflammation and frequent scab and ulcer formation are all features of the typical case.

The area around the nose is normally affected most severely, at least in early cases.

The area around the eyes frequently becomes involved in more chronic cases. Well-established, moist, ulcerative skin inflammation can spread to involve the remainder of the head, the forelimbs, chest and abdomen.

If you notice any of these signs, you should take your gerbil to the vet. In cases where secondary bacterial infections have become established, antibiotics may be required.

You will need to make sure that your general husbandry is good, making sure your gerbils are kept clean and a reduction of environmental and husbandry stresses will aid in the control of this disease.