When a human being stomps his feet, it usually is a sign of a tantrum -- especially if said individual is a young child at a toy store. Although foot stomping is a relatively common form of body language in gerbils, it doesn't signify a hissy fit. Gerbils frequently thump their back feet to warn others near them of any impending threats.
Notification of a Possibly Approaching Threat
A gerbil stomping his hind feet usually is attempting to warn others near him of an approaching menace, usually a predator. This behavior is known as "drumming." If one of your pet gerbils keeps thumping his feet down loudly, he may be trying to notify your other gerbils so they can get out of harm's way. The other gerbils around usually mimic the originator and start stomping around noisily, too, much to the dismay of your ears. In a way, the initial act of stomping is a rather helpful gesture.
An Expression of Surprise
If a gerbil is caught off guard by something and feels surprised, he also may stomp his feet in a rhythmic manner. If someone bursts abruptly into the room, for instance, he may react with surprise and stomp his feet. If he hears aggressive thunder coming in from the window, he may stomp his feet, as well. The mere ringing of the telephone may even trigger a startled reaction in a poor gerbil.
Stomping Associated With Mating
If a gerbil stomps his feet, it can indicate that he wants to mate and is totally prepared to do so. He also may repeat the thumping act once he is through with the act of mating, as well. Unlike "alarm" stomping sounds, however, these thumps are very quiet and hard to hear. Because of the quietness, other nearby gerbils also do not emulate "mating" stomps in the way they do with warning stomps.
Gerbil youngsters that live with their parents also may do a lot of foot stomping, even if there is no sign of a threat or danger at all. Since gerbils develop an understanding of foot stomping through observing their elders, the wee ones may just be mimicking mom and dad -- nothing more, nothing less.
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