Gerbil Tales


_________________________AGS NEWSLETTER_________________________

Editor: Janet Morrow

    American Gerbil Society
  1. Letter From Editor”     Janet Morrow
  2. AGS Show Standards”     AGS Board

    Gerbils Health & Education

  3. Animals”     Gondhi
  4. Basic Genetics Cheat Sheet”     Donna Anastai & Janet Morrow
  5. Seizures in Gerbils”     Julian Barker
  6. Gerbils – The concept of ‘Clan’”     Donna Anastasi

    Getting to Know Each Other

  7. Prairie Home's Zoo”     Jocie Kessinger

    Fun & Inspirational

  8. Raisin”     Alexandra Hawken
  9. Peanut”     Alexandra Hawken
  10. Ode to Percil”     Melanie Gall


___________________AMERICAN GERBIL SOCIETY______________________

Dear #Salutation#:

Welcome to the second issue of the AGS Newsletter. The American Gerbil Society Inc. Show Standards have been complete, and we have are preparing for our first show. We look forward from hearing more from Donna Anastai, Committee Chairperson, with more details of the New England show.

To help us all learn the standards better we will be holding a Virtual show. This is a great opportunity for us to become familiar with the standards while having a ton of fun. Jocelyn Kessinger is the Show Secretary/Committee Chairperson. She and her committee will be working to organize and run the show.

Our membership continues to grow with 181 members in 37 states, and 5 different countries. We would like to welcome our newest members: Jenn M., Terry, Becky, David, Jenn DS, Sophia, Elizabeth, Patricia, Victoria, Kristina, Lanny, Chris, Sarah, Teresa, Doug, Deanna, DeeAnne, Camille, Alexandra, Katelyn, Dani, Russel, Michael, and Dana.

I would like to thank everyone that has contributed articles for this issue. Keep them coming. If you have a created a gerbil story, poem, and drawing send it in.

If you are not currently on the AGS e-group, and would like to join send me an email. If you do not want to receive the daily emails you can receive only special/important announcements from the AGS Board. This is the only way you will stay informed of AGS shows, activities, and votes. Janet Morrow
American Gerbil Society Inc.



AGS Show Standards

The AGS recognizes the need for an international conformity of standards in identifying gerbil colors and other characteristics for registration and for exhibition purposes. Towards this end, certain of the AGS standards will mirror those standards that are already widely recognized and accepted by some of our sister societies, including but not limited to the National Gerbil Society & Swedish Gerbil Association.

The AGS, as an issuing authority of gerbil standards in its own right, will regularly review its existing standards, modify them when deemed necessary and add additional standards as the need arises.

Basic Standard:

The Basic Standard, by which all show gerbils are judged, is based upon the allocation of points for various features.

Body – 25 pts.; Fur/color – 25 pts.; Temperament – 25 pts.; Tail & Tuft – 15 pts.; Eyes – 5 pts.; Ears – 5pts

General Appearance & Temperament

Body: Symmetry and general appearance of the body are decidedly solid and firm. Females should be streamline and athletic in appearance. Males may have a larger, heftier body-type, but should not appear fat. There should be no signs of wounds or scars on the body. The gerbil should be in top health. The head is short and broad, and well set into the body. Teeth should not be overgrown or broken. Whiskers are long and full.

Fur: The coat is full, fine, soft, short, and has a smooth, healthy sheen without any greasy appearance. (Shows: adult gerbils shall not be molting.)

Tail & Tuft: The tail shall be held straight back for balance when the gerbil is in motion - free from kinks and ending with a brush like tuft. In an adult the tail shall be the same length as the body.

Eyes: The eyes shall be bright, widely set, and large but not bulging. They should have an almond shape and be symmetrical.

Ears: The ears shall be fairly small, not too rounded and carried erect.

Temperament: Gerbils shall be tame and friendly towards people, and show gentleness toward cage mates. They should exhibit a temperament that is curious, active, confident, even-tempered, exhibiting stability, playfulness, with an outgoing, loving disposition. Biting, nipping, and aggressive behavior shall be discouraged when breeding.

Show Penalties and Disqualifications

  • Penalty points are to be deducted as follows:
  • Disease or intractability - DISQUALIFICATION
  • Sores, scabs, or wounds - DISQUALIFICATION
  • Hard nipping – DISQUALIFICATION (Nipping will be immediate grounds for disqualification, repeated incidents of biting will bar the gerbil from further show eligibility.)
  • Missing fur - 10 points max
  • Excess fat - 10 points max
  • Molting - 10 points max
  • Dirty or stained fur - 10 points max
  • Dirty Show pen - 5 points max
Self (aa)
    Silver Nutmeg
    Red Fox
    Ruby Eyed White
    Pink Eyed White
    Black Eyed White

White Bellied (AA, Aa)
    Golden Agouti
    Gray Agouti
    Dark Eyed Honey
    Argente Golden
    Argente Cream
    Polar Fox
    Ivory Cream
    Yellow Fox

The ideal animal will be distinctively marked with a striking contrast of colors. The shading should be gradual and pleasantly blended away from all points, except the ears, which will contrast with shading. The shading will be darker towards the ends of the animal. At no point will the coat color suddenly change.

Color Points
    Himalayan (DTW)
    CP Nutmeg

    White Spot
    Silver Point

Recognized AGS Classes

Points & Championship Scheme

Appointment of AGS Judges

Appointment of Regional Show Secretaries

Show Rules and Regulations



“The greatness of a nation and it's Moral progress can be judged by the way it's animals are treated.”

~ Gandhi


__________________GERBIL HEALTH & EDUCATION____________________

Basic Genetics Cheat Sheet

There are six "loci" or dimensions of color:
A -- controls the color of the belly (Agouti Locus)
C -- controls the overall level of color produced (Albino Locus)
E -- controls the balance between black and yellow (Extension Locus)
G -- controls the intensity of yellow and black (Grey Locus)
P -- controls eye color & lightens some coats
Sp -- controls spotting (Spotting Locus)

The capital letters are "dominate" that means if the gerbil carries it, you can see it by their appearance. The small letters are "recessive", you can only see the effect of a recessive if it is paired with another recessive, otherwise the dominate letter would mask it.

A white belly a self colored (colored belly)
C Full color cchm Color Point
ch dilutes many colors
E Full color e yellow color (suppresses some ticking)
ef Faded fur
G Golden g Gray
P Black-eyed p Red-eyed dilutes some colors
Sp Spotted sp Non-spotted

“A*” Bellied
Golden Agouti A* C* E* G* P*
Grey Agouti A* C* E* gg P*
Dark Eyed Honey
Lt. Dark Eyed Honey
A* CC ee G* P*
A* Cch/cchm ee G* P*
Honey Cream A* Cch/cchm ee G* P*
Polar Fox A* CC ee gg P*
Argente Golden A* CC E* G* pp
Argente Cream A* Cch E* G* pp
Ivory Cream A* CC E* gg pp
Yellow Fox
Lt. Yellow Fox
A* CC ee G* pp
A* Cch/cchm ee G* pp
“aa” Self/Colored Belly
Black aa C* E* G* P*
Lilac aa CC E* G* pp
Dove aa CchE* G* pp
Lt. Slate
aa CC E* gg P*
aa Cch E* gg P*
Nutmeg aa C* ee G* P*
Silver Nutmeg aa C* ee gg P*
Red Fox
Lt. Red Fox
aa CC ee G* pp
aa Cch ee G* pp
Ruby Eyed White (REW) aa CC E* gg pp
Pink Eyed White (PEW) chch pp
“cchmcchm/cchmch” Color Points
Himilayians (DTW) chch P*
Burmese aa cchmcchm E* G* P*
Siamese aa cbch E* G* P*
Color Point Nutmeg
Lt. Color Point Nutmeg
aa cchmcchm ee G* P*
aa cchmch ee G* P*
Color Point Agouti
Lt. Color Point Agouti
A* cchmcchm E* G* P*
A* cchmch E* G* P*
Color Point Slate
Lt. Color Point Slate
aa cchmcchm E* gg P*
aa cchmch E* gg P*
Color Point Grey Agouti
Lt. Color Point Grey Agouti
A* cchmcchm E* gg P*
A* cchmch E* gg P*
Schimmel C* efef G* P*
Champagne C* efef G* P* Spsp
Red Eyed Schimmel C* efef G* P*



Seizures in Gerbils

by Julian Barker  “National Gerbils Society

One small problem in gerbils is almost never discussed. That is seizures, or as they are more commonly called, fits. These seizures usually result from some form of stimulation, for example, excessive handling, being placed in a new cage or tank.

There are two main types of seizure. The first and less serious involves the gerbil freezing. It will appear to simply stare into space whilst standing low on all four legs. If picked up the gerbil will appear floppy and lacking in normal muscle control. This may last for no more than a minute or two, although it can last longer. The more severe type of seizure will involve the gerbil twitching with a series of violent muscular contractions that will last a few seconds, but rarely longer than half a minute. This more violent type of fit will usually lead to a period of about ten minutes when the gerbil will appear to be suffering from the first type of seizure. Although you will probably not notice it, scientists have discovered that in the days following a fit a gerbil will be more active than usual.

Both types of fit are usually harmless. Fits that cause damage or are in other ways serious are extremely rare. The warning signs of problems are if the gerbil does not come out of the first type of fit for an excessive period of time, or in the case of the second type, if the jerking goes on for more than a minute, if there are repeating bouts of fitting without the gerbil seeming to recover there is probably a cause for the fits such as brain injury. If none of these occur then simply leave your gerbil in a quiet dark place for a few hours for it to fully recover. If there are danger signs there is probably little you can do. However, remember that these problems only happen in an extremely small proportion of gerbils that suffer seizures.

Most gerbils that have seizures are very young. Five or six weeks old is typical. In nearly all cases the tendency to fit reduces as the gerbil ages. Whilst fitting in juvenile gerbils is common, in adults it is fairly unusual unless they started seizures when young. Notwithstanding this almost all gerbils that fit will grow out of it.

Interestingly, there is evidence that at least some gerbils inherit the tendency to fit from their mothers. Whether this is inherited genetically, or whether it is the result of some maternal behaviour that is copied by offspring and triggers seizures later in life is not fully established, although there is evidence showing that both probably influence the susceptibility to fits. Regardless of the mode of transmission, scientists have managed to breed strains that are more likely to fit and those that are less likely to, so it is a good idea not to breed from any gerbil that suffers from seizures. Scientists have studied the differences between seizure prone gerbils and those that are more resistant to seizures. They have found that seizure prone gerbils spend far less time in social activity, including scent gland marking, and aggressive behaviour than non-sezure prone gerbils.

Scientists have also looked at whether colour affects the tenancy to fit. The scientists used strains bred for seizures so their results may not be significant for your gerbils, but they found that when compairing Golden Agouti, Argente Golden and Black gerbils, that Argente Golden ones suffered shorter seizures and that the seizures were less severe. So why are scientists so interested in these seizures in gerbils? Gerbil seizures are very similar to the epileptic fits suffered by humans and other mammals. They even respond to the same drugs. Because it is possible to breed strains that are very prone to having fits, and because such strains can be encouraged to suffer seizures more or less to order, these gerbils are an important part of epilepsy research aimed at understanding the causes of epileptic seizures and the treatments that can prevent them.

There are some suggestions that fitting may have an evolutionary advantage in that it may confuse predators, however I am sceptical about this myself.

The important thing to remember is that seizures in gerbils are rarely a serious problem. Simple peace and quiet will usually promote a quick recovery, and when not fitting, susceptible gerbils will act the same as any other gerbil.

EPILEPSY AND BEHAVIOUR OF THE MONGOLIAN GERBIL: AN ETHOLOGICAL STUDY: Cutler, M.G., Mackintosh, J.H., 1989, Physiology & Behavior, 46(4), 561-6

INFLUENCE OF COAT COLOR GENES ON SEIZURE BEHAVIOR IN MONGOLIAN GERBILS.: Gray-Allan, P., Wong, R., 1990, Behaviour Genetics, 20(4), 481-485

EFFECTS OF FOSTERING ON SEIZURE ACTIVITY IN THE MONGOLIAN GERBIL: Kaplan, H, 1981, Developmental Psychobiology, 14(6), 565-70



Gerbils – The concept of “Clan”

by Donna Anastasi  “ABC Gerbils

Caring for gerbils is easy, as long as you understand fully the concept of “clan”. “Clan” is what makes gerbils unique and engaging. “Clan” makes gerbils different from most other animals with a devotion and care for one another is in some ways akin to human relations.

“Clan” first and foremost means that gerbils need a gerbil companion. This is essential to their health and well-being. A gerbil companion is needed for warmth, security, protection, grooming, nesting, and just gnawing up a paper towel roll together.

So, can you just place two gerbil together? No! While gerbils are closely bonded to their clan members, outsiders will be attacked violently. There are some exceptions: such as introducing two very young pups or a nurturing adult male to a pup. But in most cases, the way to introduce two gerbils is by using a “split tank”. This means separating the tank on the diagonal with sturdy mesh wire, anchoring it to the tank with masking tape (providing no gaps for the gerbils to go Gerbil Talesunder, over, or around). Put one gerbil on each side and swap them back and forth as many times a day as you can. When you see them building nests next to one another on either side of the mesh, they are becoming “clanned”.

In about a week, remove the divider. Watch the pair closely until they groom one another and share the same nest. Also, with any gerbil introduction make sure you wear heavy gloves. If you stick your bare hands into the middle of a gerbil fight, you will receive a set of deep puncture wounds intended as the death blow to the gerbil combatant. If one gerbil chases the other around the tank at top speed with the victim flinching or leaping in the air, immediately replace the divider. Put one gerbil on either side and give them more time in the split cage. If the gerbils get into a “ball fight”, replace the divider. After a full-fledged, ball fight battle chance for these two being clanned is slim.

Gerbil society is a matriarchy, which means at most one dominant adult female to any clan. Here are the possible make-ups for gerbil clans:

  • A pair of females
  • A pair of males
  • A larger clan of all males (up to five)
  • A male and a female
  • A female and/or male with a litter of pups (under 9 weeks)
The absolute worst clanning setup is a “harem”, that is to say, one male and multiple females. This will not work for gerbils. Once they reach full maturity two females will fight to the death over the male. If any pups are born before this, the female(s) who did not birth the pups will maim and kill these little “intruders”.

Gerbils bred in a proper clan setup (namely, one male and one female) are attentive and dedicated parents. Both the mother and father gerbils take an active role in caring for the pups.

A tricky aspect of clanning is that if a gerbil gets coated with the smell of a stranger gerbil it will be attacked. Therefore, it is important never to share toys between gerbil tanks and not to use the same plastic containers to hold your different tanks when you clean out the housing. It is a good habit to wash your hands between handing gerbils from different tanks. And always wash your hand before handing pups since gerbil moms are on high alert against foreign smells. If a gerbil is separated from its cage mate for over 24 hours, the gerbil is no longer recognized as “clan”; re-introduce the gerbil using a split cage.

While gerbils are adaptive to changes to their clan composition when they are young (under six months), once your gerbils are older, they need to stay in their established clans. Breaking up an older breeding or same-sexed pair can be so traumatic on the gerbils that they do not survive the split on their own or even with a new partner.

Observing gerbils in their clan as they groom, nest, play, and learn from one another is one of the best parts about keeping gerbils. As I watch their family interactions, I often think we people have much to learn from these small creatures.


_________________GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER___________________

Prairie Home’s Zoo

by Jocie Kessinger  “The Titan Clan & Anomaly Clan”

I am a high school student (currently in my junior year) at Prairie Home High School. I live in the country between Prairie Home (a town of about 220 people) and Boonville in Missouri. I also have a house in Columbia where my mom lives. I stay there a lot on weekends and during the summer. Having two locations really helps in finding good homes and placing my gerbils.

I can't remember a time in my life with out animals. “How is the zoo doing?” is a very common question for me to be asked while walking down the halls of my high school. Currently I own: 1 rabbit, 14 rats, around 25 cats (5 are mine, others are barn or family cats), 1 Australian Shepherd, and of course all the gerbils (the exact number changes a lot). In the past I have owned, iguanas, fish, parakeets, hamsters, horses, many different breeds of dogs, guinea pigs, and we even had a tarantula when I was younger.

My gerbils are divided into two clans; The Titan Clan, and the Anomaly Clan. TTC is the clan I breed gerbils to sell as pets and breeders from. It usually contains around 4 breeding pairs and can produce most colors. These would also be the gerbils I would show or take to do demonstrations on care, genetics, or just how wonderful gerbils are as pets(which I do often at school). My second clan, TAC, is slightly different (as the name implies). These gerbils (the originals of which were given to me by Michael and Sharon Fazi) have a very strange coat pattern. I am working with them to try and bring that pattern out.

Gerbils are of course not the only thing in my life. Like I said I am still in high school so that takes up a lot of my time. I am about an A-/B+ student and rank high in my class (which is only 13 people). I am really into art and plan to go to an art collage to be a graphic designer. I also love to read and love music (mostly faster beats like rap), and my computer. I think animals however will always be my main love in life. I am very happy to be a part of the AGS...


_____________________FUN & INSPIRATIONAL_________________________


by Alexandra Hawken   The Glosette Clan

My gerbil's name is Raisin.
She is not at all brazen.
I often find her lazin'.
To me she is amazin'.




by Alexandra Hawken   The Glosette Clan

Peanut is a cream gerbil
Who eats things that are herbal.
She is not at all verbal,
But she's a cute lil furball.



Ode to Percil (In proper Sonnet form)

by Melanie Gall and Percil of course!

O mouselet, sweet and warm as summer's breath
With round eyes wide - soft pools of bordeaux
Draped in twilight's gray - a whiskered wraith
Wih one stray tuft - a faerie kiss of snow

So staunchly undertaking every task
Be't* shredding pap'r or the digging of a hole
Pond'ring physics, philosophy and maths
While chewing semicircles off a roll

Lo, jaded by the world you'll never be
Your little body trembles at the sight
Of all the wondr'ous powers that you see
Yet you bask not in nature's pure delights

But rather in the gentle giants who feed,
And with a gesture luminate the night

*be it



© 2001 American Gerbil Society Inc.