Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Menagerie


Any experience with gerbils? We were going to get Madeleine a dwarf hamster for her birthday on Thursday, then I read this.

So? Any ideas?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, that website was too funny! One of our friends just got her daughter two dwarf hamsters. They are pretty tiny compared to the hamster I had when I was growing up. Apparently, they can be kept in pairs unlike "regular" cranky hamsters. But they are always running on the wheel at night.

I also had gerbils and they were fun. The biggest thing is they are fast, so if your daughter is going to want to pick them up all the time, they are both going to be equally hard to catch. I can also vouch for them being cleaner and overall more interested in people.

I don't know if that helps or not. That is a damn cute pic too!

12/19/2006 7:21 PM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

My boss just got some rats that she says are the best pets ever - smart, interested, funny. But I am still all -- eew, rats.

12/19/2006 7:25 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Harridan said...

I had a gerbil growing up. He lived for a long time (probably 6 or 7 years, and he was an adult when I got him). A couple of things:

1. They really are very fast. Best to keep 'em in the cage or in one of those exercise balls. If M is very hands-on with pets, they may not be a good choice. Gerbils are not thrilled with being handled a lot, though they are pretty friendly and inquisitive.

2. They need stuff to chew, all the time. Toilet paper rolls or other thin cardboard is good. The wheel is also good, because without it they'll spend a lot of time trying to burrow through the corners of the cage in a parody of mute futility.

3. They won't bite, but they will gently gnaw your fingernails. It's cute.

4. I changed the cage bedding about once a week; it was never really smelly.

5. If you do get a mating pair, be aware that the male might eat the babies, if they have any (ick). Two males together will fight (which is how I got mine, he was the prize in a school raffle because he was fighting with his daddy all the time).

Altogether they are very cute, clean and mostly trouble-free.

12/19/2006 7:44 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

qt and Mrs. H, Thanks! I mean really thanks! Any little bit helps.

SueBob, the rats. I know. Poor, hairless tailed rats. I feel about them the same way I feel about Woody Allen. If only he were better looking.

12/19/2006 8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, uh, ... I had a hamster when I was a kid. It was pretty scary the day it decided to hide under the dishwasher, although, I am happy to report, it survived unscathed. But for that reason alone, I don't think I would get a dwarf hamster, because if it got lost... jeezus knows, you could step on it and not see it.

12/19/2006 8:14 PM  
Blogger meno said...

Hamsters will give you an opportunity to practice your eulogy skills.

Here lies fluffy, all dead and stuff. (And they are too big to flush.)

A word to the wise.

12/19/2006 8:32 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

Siblings and I had mice, gerbils, guinea pigs and rabbits (the last two outdoors). Rabbits and gerbils would be my picks for favorite outdoor and indoor rodents.

I do agree with the warnings about how hard they are to catch and get back into the cage though. We employed the folded towel along the door crack effectively to prevent escapes.

I suppose a baited LIVE rodent trap would work to recapture any escapees that can't be quickly located.

We have good friends with two girls who have pet rats. They really enjoy the rats, but I have dispatched too many nasty Norweigan rats and repaired too much rat infestation aftermath to welcome any into my house. I will never be able to find rats of any sort "cute".

12/19/2006 10:42 PM  
Blogger V said...

I had gerbils as a kid....REALLY cute black ones. I haven't even seem black ones since I was like 10. They ARE quick and while they are really cute, I wouldn't characterize them as "social"...they're a little more skittish than that. And dam,n can they pro-create! We went on vacation once...we knew the girl was prego before we left (a friend was taking care of them) and by the time we returned TWO litters...there were 14 gerbils in the cage. Luckily our pet store would by the babies back or else our house would've become gerbil heaven (uh...or hell). I always think hamsters are less cute, but I'm clearly biased!

Oh...and they may live ok in pairs...but we had 3 once (which was the end of having gerbils for me) and the two girls ganged up on the male and basically killed him/ate him.

I'd go ferret! :)

12/20/2006 4:43 AM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

Gerbils are stupid idiots that just try and run away from you.

Hamsters are cuter and cuddly but the best pet is a rat. Yes, believe it or not the super smart critters sold as snake food. They are very smart, very affectionate too. Get a female white rat. I have had four so far. Took my kids to the pet store to see what the hamsters were doing (sleeping), the gerbils (running to nowhere on a wheel) and the rats. The rats run to the side of the cage to visit with you.


12/20/2006 4:48 AM  
Blogger V-Grrrl said...

We have a hamster, a regular one, not a dwarf.

He is very social, the kids handle him constantly and he doesn't bite. He chirps a bit once and a while, likes to ride in my son's sweatshirt pocket, and is mighty cute, even though I'm not a rodent lover.

They live 2-3 years--nice age span. They can be trained to be more active during the day and sleep more at night.

The gerbil I had in college? Not as cuddly, and the long tail it had--bleah!

12/20/2006 6:35 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

I couldn't even tell you the visual difference between a gerbil and a hamster but a guy on one of the sites I've beem reading for years has raised several dwarf hamsters and loves them. They don't seem to have a very long life expectancy though.

12/20/2006 7:48 AM  
Anonymous JMo said...

Don't do a ferret! They are great fun but can also be a large pain in the arse. 1) they are stinky bastards - don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Even if you bathe them once a week, they still have a musky smell. 2) they will steal and hide anything they can get their sharp little teeth on. If its not bolted down it will soon be hidden under the sofa or bed or worse - behind a large wall unit bookshelf that has 400+ books on it (if its your friends checkbook, you have to pull the books down, move the shelves and retrieve the checkbook - ughh!). 3) They are wiley little buggers that don't exactly listen or come when you call them...

12/20/2006 8:25 AM  
Anonymous emily said...

Sounds like that website is written by a hamster-hater! Consider the source - kinda like watching FoxNews for current events. Seriously, I had a hamster and it was torture. It was awake ALL NIGHT. EVERY. NIGHT. Then when I wanted to play with it, it was asleep and was grumpy if I tried to wake it up.

Yeah, get a gerbil. Definitely a gerbil.

12/20/2006 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Mignon's Mom said...


Don't you remember sobbing because the hamster kept you awake at night when you were about Madeleine's age? It was on its wheel all night long, so we had to give it back to the teacher after only maybe a weekend.

And Damon and Tobin had a gerbil that escaped and got bonked on the head when they were trying to get it out from under the refrigerator. Damon thought it was dead, and I got an emergency call to get home from school--to find that the gerbil was just knocked out and was off hiding again.

Drama with both of those rodents.

I recommend a pet rock. Or a Munny doll. http://www.coochicoos.com/images/munny.jpg

12/20/2006 11:46 AM  
Blogger Feral Mom said...

I vote for guinea pigs. They are too fat to move very fast, make cute whistling/gurgling noises, and are very social and friendly. I had one live to be six.

12/20/2006 11:47 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...

We had a hamster as a kid. They stink. All the time. No matter how often we cleaned that cage, dumb thing still stank.

As an adult, I've only had cats. Really not a rodent person.

12/20/2006 12:11 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

My mom and feral mom, it was a guinea pig I had for 1 night. The WHEE WHEE WHEE all night long - I'll never forget it. Madeleine's preschool class had one last year, and whenever I went in there and heard the WHEE WHEE WHEE I broke out in cold sweats. Silence of the Guinea Pigs.

Oh, and mom - I remember that gerbil. It got killed by a fireplace poker (accidentally), but until I was about 25, I had it in my head it was killed by a poker chip. I always thought of gerbils as being terribly fragile...

JMo, I agree about the ferrets. Stinky and slinky. They look like they should be made into coats.

All you rat cheerleaders: no. The animal must have hair on all of its body. Tail, especially.

12/20/2006 12:13 PM  
Blogger Tink said...

Screw both options... Get her a puppy!!

I love that article. It was completely bias. Like Pepsi writing an ad about Coke. I had mice and crabs growing up. Get your head out of the gutter. They were HERMIT crabs thankyouverymuch. I wouldn't recommend anything little, quick, or that dies quickly. Maybe a bunny or guinea pig?

12/20/2006 1:20 PM  
Blogger Tink said...

Just read your above comment. Scratch the guinea pig. Maybe a pot bellied pig or goat? ;)

12/20/2006 1:26 PM  
Blogger Mitzi Green said...

i can think of all manner of nasty gerbil jokes i could make right now, but in the spirit of the season, i'll refrain. and that thing in the picture looks squishable.

12/20/2006 1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously- DWARF hamsters? Like regular hamsters aren't small enough?

Over my life I've had fish, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs, chickens and a tortoise. Currently we have two house-trained dwarf rabbits- they are the cutest things, but can be destructive. As much as I love them I wouldn't recommend a rabbit for you because one tends to get lonely (and therefore destructive) and two will fight unless you have them neutered (and that racks up the vet bills in no time).

Mice were the most low-maintenance (furry) pets we had as kids, but I quickly learned you can't feed them breakfast cereals or they're likely to die of tumours.

Hermit crabs are cool, but they can't be bred in captivity, so all hermies on sale are taken from the wild, and I'm not really down with that.

It seems like there really aint much difference between the hamsters and gerbils- why not take her to the pet shop and let her choose?

12/20/2006 8:21 PM  

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