Disaster Strikes! Gerbil Edition

Yesterday got away from me. I had a lot scheduled in the morning, but wanted to take my kids out somewhere to do something fun in the afternoon. I thought I might take them to a movie or maybe on a hike. At the very least we were going to go out to a park.

After my morning and early afternoon appointments, I walked into my office, which is where the gerbils live, and I found two of the girls, Scissorpaws and Jefferie, scuffling and covered in blood. COVERED in blood. Because I’m smart, I broke up their fight with my hand.

That wasn’t the bite that caused all my bleeding though.

I knew I had to separate the two fighters, so I tried to pick up Scissorpaws to put her in my gerbil travel cage and that is when I got the bite that caused all my bleeding.

I called to Sam to bring me the phone and a towel for my finger and I was covered in blood and the gerbils were covered in blood and I did a really goddamn good job of traumatizing my first born, so let’s just call that a win, okay?

Then I had to make an emergency call to the vet. Ironically, when the vet receptionist asked, “Is this an emergency or can I ask you to hold?” I told her I could hold because I evidently am not willing to admit I am making an emergency call even if I am making an emergency call.

I panicked a little when I was trying to figure out how to get both animals to the vet without creating a tiny cage match in my car because I only have one travel cage. Sam is the brilliant one who suggested I put one of them in Tupperware. He’s smart. And level-headed.

I used scissors to stab air holes in the lid though—AND I did it BEFORE I put the gerbil in it—so I’m not completely useless.

Photo of Jefferie in a small travel cage for rodents. Next to her is a small plastic container, in which you can see the shadow of a gerbil.

This is after they came home from the vet. There was a lot less blood by this point.

I was sitting in the waiting room at the vet hospital when it occurred to me that a gerbil bite might be, you know, bad for me as well as the gerbils. I texted my sister the doctor to ask her how likely it was that I would die from a gerbil bite and she told me that it was likely and I should get treated.

I found this upsetting, but reasonable.

I left the gerbils with the vet, who was giving them fluids and anti-inflammatories and antibiotics and pain medicine because those poor little guys were ripped up. They really did a number on each other. Also, If we were to determine how much money I spent per ounce of gerbil on this visit, well, let’s just say I was already depressed enough and also unable to count that high in my semi-agitated state.

Happily, all the treatment those little guys needed gave me ample time to, you know, get a tetanus shot.

Before I was able to go to a human doctor though, I had to go to the pet store to get new gerbil cages because clearly these two gerbils will never be able to live together again and also I can’t trust them with Jetpack, who remained unscathed through the great Gerbil Fiasco of 2015.

Then I waited at an urgent care clinic for an hour and a half for a doctor to confirm that I had, in fact, been bitten by a gerbil and should get a tetanus shot. It then took six minutes for a nurse to give me said tetanus shot and put a bandaid on my finger.

The gerbils still weren’t ready, even though they’d been at the vet for three hours, so I drove home and assembled my new gerbil cages. Then I went to the vet to trade a million dollars for my damaged gerbils and their medicines, which need to be administered via teensy syringes twice a day for ten days.

I very carefully put the gerbils in their new cages, which turned out to be veeeeeery interesting to the cats.

Photo of a small plastic and metal cage with a gerbil inside it. Starfire the cat is right next to it. It is crammed into the back of a bookshelf.

I put them way back on a shelf, surrounded by books so the cats couldn’t push them off of the shelf.

Guess what happened right after I did this?

It turns out when you purchase cheap less expensive cages, they are much lighter than glass tanks and cats have the ability to maneuver them around.

I heard a crash and ran into the office to find that the cats had knocked Jefferie’s cage to the ground and the poor gerbil, although still safely in the cage, thank God, was presumably not very happy, so I moved the new cages with their new residents to my bedroom behind a now permanently closed door so the cats don’t use them as maracas.

Thus far I’ve administered medicine to them twice and no one has been bitten, which, yay! I also haven’t developed tetanus, so I feel pretty good about that, even if my arm hurts where I got the shot.

Both Jefferie and Scissorpaws seem to be doing okay, although they are pretty beat up. Poor kiddos. I have no idea what set them off. But silver lining, at least now we get to hear the scribble scrabble of gerbil paws on plastic all night long, so there’s that.

Fingers crossed for a quick and pain-free recovery for them. I think this incident may have scared me straight from getting new rodents for a while.

Spike, We Will Miss You

Back when Stimeyland experienced its gerbil population explosion, I noticed within the first few days that one of them had an arm disability. One of the little girls had a twisted hand so I made sure to give her a super tough name and I sent her out into the gerbil world.

Delightfully, she always looked like she was waving.

Photo of a small white gerbil standing on her hind legs. Her front paws are in front of her, one of which is twisted up so it looks like she's waving.


Spike did great in life, foraging for seeds and chewing up cardboard with her sisters and her mom, but sadly, she is the first of the babies to leave us, a little more than two years after her most exciting debut.

You were a very good and very tough gerbil, Spike. You will be missed.

One of Seven, RIP

I was on my way out of the house today to take Sam to bassoon lessons when I glanced at the gerbil tanks. Everything looked fine except I could only see two gerbils in the boy tank, where there are normally three. Mouse was conspicuously absent.

Sadly, Mouse hasn’t been doing very well as of late. He’s been losing weight and has been looking increasingly…rumpled. Mouse was one of the original gerbils and as he was about two and a half years old, I knew he was nearing the end of his lifespan.

I asked Alex to check on him as I left, knowing in my heart what I was going to hear.

Alex says that the other two gerbils had buried him in the corner, covering him with their bedding. Alex exhumed him from that shallow grave and buried him in our rodent memorial ground (newly established), telling him that he was my favorite (he was) and that we all loved him.

Photo of a young speckled white gerbil.

This was the first photo I ever posted of Mouse here. May he rest in peace.

I’ve known that this was coming for a while. It was like this with the mice—several months of a slow withering of numbers. Mouse was the first of what will be a long, sad line of gerbil deaths over the next few months.

Poor little guy. I’m going to miss him.

Photo of me holding Mouse after I first brought him home.

Mouse and I bonded quickly.

Photo of Mouse gripping the outside of his exercise wheel. He was spinning it from the outside.

Mouse was always his own gerbil, doing things his own way.

Photo of Mouse in a tiny Mickey Mouse hat.

And, of course, this.

Two photos, one of a brown gerbil eating out of a gerbil bowl and one of a white gerbil eating off of a seed block.

I gave Creeper and King extra seeds and treats after cleaning their tank this afternoon. It was like an, “I’m sorry you had to bury your father” snack.

The house seems empty without him.

I Will Celebrate My Triumphant and Exhausted Return From Disney World With a Gerbil Video

I have returned from Disney World. We had a blast. I took a million photos. I will be blogging nonstop about it once I am able to sit down and catch my breath. This will be sometime after I run my first half marathon tomorrow. God only knows how long after.

I do have something fun for you today though. A while ago I had mentioned the stamping that my gerbils do to warn each other of danger and how adorable it is. Several of you expressed interest in seeing a video of said stamping. Since then I have spent countless hours sitting quietly in front of my gerbil tanks holding up my phone ready to record whenever they became alarmed.

They never became alarmed.

So then I sat loudly in front of my gerbil tanks holding up my phone and making large arm gestures and startling whooping noises.

I think they rolled their eyes at me.

I did, however, finally manage to capture some stamping a couple of weeks ago. It’s not the best stamping, because the best stamping happens when a gerbil stands on two legs to stamp and the guy in this video was far too lazy to do that, BUT it is also extremely awesome because you get to see exactly what was alarming to the gerbil.

It’s 17 seconds long and there is sound, but it is almost entirely the soft sounds of a stamping gerbil followed by the creak of my chair.

In case you chose not to watch it, the alarming thing was a cat, who just happened to be licking her lips when I caught her on camera.

I’ll see you later; I’ve got some hydrating and sleeping to do. And carb loading. Lots and lots (and lots) of carb loading.

Zoom Out

Aw! Look at my happy, peaceful little gerbil friend. He is so relaxed and calm and sleepy.

Close up of a sleeping gerbil with his head slightly sticking out of a hole in a wooden gerbil house.Double aw! That calm happy gerbil is sleeping with his buddy.

Camera is zoomed out. Now you see that sleeping gerbil and in another gerbil house cutout, a second gerbil, sleeping under the first.Make that ON his buddy.

Same gerbils as before, only camera is zoomed out even farther so we can see that they are on the second floor of a two-story gerbil house.While those two gerbils safely slumber, another happy, secure gerbil lazily chews on cardboard under his water bottle. They have not a care in the world…

Same as before, but zoomed out even farther to see a brown gerbil standing in front of the house.…except for the giant predator smashed between the gerbil tank and the window.

Camera is zoomed out even farther, showing the three gerbils and then, behind the tank, a black and white cat.It must be unsettling to always have a giant cat on one side of your tank and a giant human on the other. It’s a miracle these gerbils aren’t stampy* little stressballs all the time.

Meanwhile, our predator finds time to pose, secure in the knowledge that no human or rodent will be able to pry her out of her exactly Oreo-sized stronghold wedged between the window and the gerbil tank.

Said black and white cat, wedged into a tiny space between the window and the gerbil tank. In this photo, she is lying on her back.And there you have a photo tour of two feet of my desk. And a good idea of exactly how much time I have on my hands.

* Gerbils do an excellent double stamp move to alert each other of danger. It is très adorable.

Yeah, That Toy Doesn’t Exist

Thank you all for your efforts with the Elemental Guardian. I am now convinced that the toy does not exist and that Jack had some kind of elaborate hallucination last week wherein someone brought in a Barbie and Jack’s brain turned it into the ultimate Hero Factory toy.

I would, however, like to thank all of you for your amazing google skillz. Seriously. You are phenomenal. Jack is very lucky to have all of you on his side. I can’t quite believe all the awesome stuff you found. I have no idea how you found them.

As for the $119 Transformers toy that looked a lot like what Jack was describing, but that was NOT what he was describing, but now he wants said Transformers toy? Well, that one is on me for being dumb enough to show it to him. Also he’s not getting it.

To thank you for all your hard work typing and clicking, I will give you this photo of spooning kittens.

tuxedo cat with front paw around black cat

Awwwwww! Kittens make everything better.

And then I’ll give you this other photo of the cats and gerbils during gerbil tank cleaning time.

three cats clustered around a small, plastic box holding three gerbils

So close and yet still so far.

Let’s all try to not notice that our couch is patched with brown duct tape, okay? It’s embarrassing enough without you pointing and laughing.

I hope the cats make you happy. Let me know if I can ever google something for you.