Sunday, February 28, 2010

ABC Wednesday: G is for Gerbil

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Two Mongolian Gerbils - the gerbil species that's most common as a pet. They are cute, curious and can be tamed easily and they don't sleep all day - did I mention they were curious? They will come to look what you're doing, especially when they know that they might get a treat. Here's a video of Ares (almost eight years old at that time) grabbing a piece of wafer and runnig with it - I might decide to take it back after all.

Like most rodents, they are very social and should never be kept alone. Unfortunately, excessive breeding for colour and not for health or character has messed up both their social behaviour and their lifespan. Groups of more than two gerbils are unstable and usually fall apart after some time and introducing gerbils to each other is very complicated. Ares with his eight years was a big exception from the rule, these days Mongolian gerbils often die with two or three years...five years used to be normal.

Gerbils are a huge family with more than 100 different species. For example, there are Fat Sand Rats who have appeared in the pet trade a while ago. Unfortunately, they need a highly specialized diet and are very prone to diabetes, most people who buy them have no idea what they are getting into.
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Duprasis are gerbils, too, they are also known as Fat-Tailed gerbils for a reason. The tail is used to store fat for hard times. Duprasis run up to 14 kilometers (about 9 miles) per night and need a huge cage if you want to keep them as pets. They also love and need animal protein in the form of insects, preferably living ones.

My favourite gerbil species are Bushy-Tailed Jirds.
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They are about the size of Mongolian gerbils, but more slender and they climb much better, balancing with their long tail. Bushy-tailed jirds need a big, tall cage, I simply converted a closet.
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Whenever I open the doors, the jirds will come and see what's going on and will climb around on me. They don't like being petted because it gets their fur greasy, but they can get really tame anyway. But as with all pets, make sure you do a lot of reading and research beforehand! Check animal shelters and private rescues, even for exotic species. This Persian gerbil has been given up for adoption at a shelter near me for example (by someone who thought he had a Mongolian gerbil...he clearly didn't have much interest in his pet)
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See what else G stands for at the ABC Wednesday meme

16 comments:

mrsnesbitt said...

Oh so adoreable! Loved the video, the sight of the little tails popping over made me smile!

Sylvia K said...

Didn't realize there was such a variety of Gerbils! My kids had them when they were growing up and they were always fun. It was sometimes difficult to keep them out of the cats way though! Fun post for the day! Love the video! Have great week!

Sylvia

RuneE said...

A very interesting post - you have taught me something new. Thank you!.

Milla said...

Oh, so cute

Amy said...

Wow, I had no idea there were so many types of gerbils! The enclosure you created is amazing, and thanks for visiting and commenting on my "g" post.

Johnny Nutcase said...

they are all so so cute! I love the photos of them, and what a great home you made for them!

Manang Kim said...

Oh my gush they are so cute makes me laugh here.

G is for Gold

photowannabe said...

Great video and this seems like a great pet. I had no idea there were so many varieties.

Tumblewords: said...

Interesting little critters. I've never known anyone who kept them. Good post!

Stan Ski said...

Never thought of keeping one as a pet - but they do look cute and cuddly.

Life with Kaishon said...

Oh. My. Goodness. They are so cute. I can't wait to show this to my son in the morning when he wakes up! : ) What a fun post!

Grace and Bradley said...

Such a cute little pet, my daughter used to love them.

Mara said...

What a lovely animal. And I promise you, I will never get one without reading up on them beforehand.

Roger Owen Green said...

Never had any of the little rodents, mostly just cats. But was I missing out?

ChrisJ said...

I love gerbils. When we lived in Minnesota we had one. He was named by my then 6 yr old Jerry Apple Juice Gerbil!! But you're not allowed to have gerbils in southern California because if they get loose, the agriculture disappears.

Gerald (Ackworth born) said...

Two gerbils in a biscuit tin - what a great photo - my son kept a pet rat for time - but thankfully he wasn't living at home at the time.