Gerbils: What is the scent or marking gland?

white gerbil in the owner's hand
11 March 2021 Pets4Company

Know the key role of this gland and the health problems associated with it!

What is an scent or marking gland?

The scent or marking gland is nothing less than a sebaceous gland capable of producing a modified fluid containing pheromones.

These pheromones play several key roles, such as:

  • Territory marking and its limits;
  • Recognition of the various elements of the group;
  • Attract females / ward off other males and vice versa… etc.

This gland is present in several species, most commonly in males, performing functions such as those described above. However, gerbils are distinguished in this context from other species since both males and females have a scent gland in the chest area, capable of producing an orange liquid that the gerbil leaves wherever it passes.

In certain circumstances, especially related to mating or stress, the gerbil will use its scent gland more frequently or intensely, making it more moist and exposed and therefore more visible. This behavior is also seen in captivity.

A permanently damp marking gland, with abnormal growth / color, crusting or bleeding may indicate the presence of an infection or even a tumor. In these cases the gerbil's own behavior can reflect signs of discomfort, itching or excessive cleaning of the place.

 brown gerbil standing next to a wicker ball

Some factors contribute to health problems related to the marking gland. stand out among them:

  • Lack of cleanliness of the habitat;
  • Food low in nutrients, but high in fats;
  • Stress;
  • Hereditary health problems;
  • Excessive handling by the tutor.

Note: Gerbils, like other rodents, hide pain and discomfort well, so that the appearance of the first symptoms may already indicate an advanced disease situation, and veterinary follow-up should be sought as soon as possible.

In love with gerbils? Find out everything you need before getting a gerbil in this article!