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Gerbils Do NOT Need Fancy Chew Toys!

Joined: 6/24/2011
Posts: 29
My daughter recently acquired two male gerbils. Their names are: Nutella (she has recently discovered the delicious joys of Nutella) and darn, I can NOT remember the other gerbil's name. SORRY, GERBIL!

That's just what I call both of them anyway. Gerbil... as in: "Hi, gerbils, how are you doing?" Sometimes I call them "guys" as in: "How are you GUYS today?" They never answer, of course. But they do venture out from their little plastic gerbil condo to peer at me through the bars with their weird black pupil-less eyes.

How do I look to them, I wonder? I read that gerbils have bad eye-site. I guess, to them, I am just this big blur that passes seeds through the bars. A friendly big blur with food. No wonder they come out to see me.

Oh wait. You are probably wondering why I am spending so much time with the gerbils as opposed to my daughter spending time with them. Well, anyone who is a parent here, knows how that goes. Your child gets a new pet, and guess what? YOU have a new pet!

Then you end up learning all about the new pet, and spending too much time with the new pet, because even though your child SWORE she would take care for the iguana/fish/snake/hamster/parakeet/newt/GERBIL (fill in the blank) and might do so FERVENTLY in the BEGINNING, well, after the novelty wears off, you know who picks up the slack.

MOM! That's me.

Anyway, that's okay. It's been a learning experience- plus, somewhat entertaining. Truthfully, my daughter has been pretty good...she does clean out the cage once a week, which creates a brand new mess in the bathroom.... but at least she's trying.

One thing I've learned about gerbils, is that they live to DIG and CHEW! Digging and chewing are their whole life, besides eating sunflower seeds (and pumpkin seeds..they LOVE those things)! But digging and chewing....these activities are the reason for their existence! ( I found out that gerbils are really desert animals, and they dig lots of underground tunnels in the wild).

At first, my daughter would come home with all these little expensive pet store goodies for her new furry pals; fancy chew things all packaged up; blue wooden hearts and green wooden clovers. Thrilling gerbil stuff...only, the gerbils never looked that thrilled.

So, worrying that the gerbils were getting bored (what can I say, I'm a mom) I tossed in an empty cardboard toilet paper tube one day. WELL! They went to town on that thing! I never saw such a flurry of excitement. Those excited rodents had that toilet paper tube demolished in about 10 minutes flat.

Next, I graduated them to an empty paper towel tube. It took the little balls of fur a lot longer to demolish that, but they loved hanging out inside of the long tube...probably because it reminded them of one of those tunnels they would dig if they still lived in the desert!

After that, I offered the gerbils pieces of egg cartons I rescued from the recycling tub (more success!) and then, just to switch things up a bit, I cut a toilet-paper tube into a whole bunch of skinny rings, and tossed those into the cage for their enjoyment.

Wow,did THIS create major hoopla! The gerbils went WILD, carrying rings of cardboard all around the cage. At one point, it even looked like they were actually BUILDING something in there.... a very architecturally unique modern structure on top of their food bowl!

So here's my advice...if you get gerbils (or if your CHILD gets gerbils) do NOT waste money on expensive chew toys. You have the BEST chew toys in town, right there in your bathroom and in your recycling bin!

The gerbils are fun to watch. What's also funny, is that our two cats sit by the cage peering in; especially when there is lots of animated cardboard chewing going on. The gerbils don't even mind...they don't seem to realize that these felines are preditors staring intently at their every move. So everyone is happy and entertained for a little bit.

What can I say? It doesn't take much at our house!

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