Gerbil Tales


_________________________AGS NEWSLETTER_________________________

Editor: Janet Morrow

    American Gerbil Society
  1. Letter From Editor”     Janet Morrow
  2. NE Show Made Easy”     Janet Morrow
  3. Virtual Show 2002”     AGS Members

    Gerbils Health & Education

  4. Emergency Kits”     AGS Members
  5. Heat Stroke and Hypothermia”     Jackie Roswell

    Getting to Know Each Other

  6. Breath”     Chief Seattle, Duwamish
  7. Maestro’s Brood”     Michelle Inman

    Fun & Inspirational

  8. The Escapee”     Ann-Marie Roberts


___________________AMERICAN GERBIL SOCIETY______________________

Dear #Contact#:

The first AGS Virtual Show has been a great success! There were 47 entries in six different categories: Self, White Belly, Color Point, White Spot & Pied, Pup. This was a great opportunity for everyone. The members were able to enter their beautiful and beloved “furry friends”, we all got to admire them, and the judges got some practical experience.

Many of members have asked for us to make the Virtual Show an annual event, and we are glad to oblige! This is a great opportunity for members to try their hands at judging a show.

Pull out your cameras, and start practicing. You have a whole year to teach your gerbils to put on their prettiest face.

The AGS New England Show is only a month away! The show will be a great opportunity for us to meet, share stories, admire each other’s gerbils, and start working on championship points. If you have any questions read through the article “NE Show Made Easy”, and if you still have questions contact Donna Anastasi.

Our membership continues to grow with 191 members. We would like to welcome our newest members: Alexandra, Katelyn, Dani, Andrew, Larry, Amanda, Eddie, Angie, Emily, Michael, Carol, Bryan,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.



NE Show Made Easy

by Janet Morrow

Many AGS members have expressed their excitement about our first official show on June 1st, 2002, in Merrimack, New Hampshire. The schedule of events begins on Friday evening with the show set-up from 7:00p.m. to 9:00p.m. There will be light refreshments there for all that lend a helping hand. Everyone is invited to come help set up, eat, and get a head start on meeting each other.

Saturday evening, after the show and clean up, many of us are heading for Newicks for a birthday dinner. They are a nice seafood restaurant, and also have chicken, pasta, and steak entrees. Everyone is welcome to join us. Please let Donna know if you plan on coming, so we can make reservations. (I understand that the food is very good, and reasonably priced.)

Shows are a great way to meet other gerbil enthusiasts, to chat, share stories, swap knowledge, and meet friends. They are also a wonderful way to gain knowledge about gerbils, standards, colors, and how to improve our breeding techniques. Some people think one of the best parts is working on a ribbons showcase, and earning championship status.

OK, the show sounds like a lot of fun. You are planning on coming, but were do you begin? Start with determining which of your gerbils you will be entering in the show. If you have a long way to travel you may not be able to bring everyone you want, so pick out your best of each color. Remember, pregnant and nursing gerbils cannot be shown.

The next step will be to register your gerbils for the show. There are three categories that gerbils may be shown in.

  • Juvenile: pups between the age of 6 to 11 weeks
  • Adult: gerbils between the age of 12 week and 2 years
  • Veteran: gerbils over the age of 2 years
If you don’t know the exact date of birth give the month and year to the best of your knowledge. Next, you will need to list the sex and ‘standard’ color of your gerbils. Hopefully the determining the sex will be easy, but knowing the ‘standard’ color has proven a challenge for many members. You might not know the standard name for the color. A classic example of this is the Algerian Fox, Sooty Fawn, whose ‘standard’ name is Dark Eyed Honey. If you are not sure, then attach a description of the color as accurately as you can, remembering the eye color and ticking. The Show Secretary can then determine the gerbil’s color. If an error is made it will be corrected when you get to the show, so don’t worry.

Read the NE Show information pages and entry form carefully. If anything is unclear, contact the Show Secretary, Donna Anastasi, directly and ask. Although there will be ‘same day registrations’ it will be a lengthy process, and could delay the show. Please mail in the entry form. If you want to pay the entry fee at the on the day of the show let the Donna know, but send in your gerbil information upfront.

The Basic Standard are 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

Each color has its own set of standards that cover fur color, ticking, and eye color. A complete write up can be found in the AGS Show Standards. One question that I have been asked a number of time is, “Will the gerbils be held and handled by the judges?” The answer to that is yes.

The judges will first observe the gerbils in the showcage. Next the judge will hold the gerbil. This will give them a closer look; and opportunity to check the six point areas, confirmation, fur/color, tail/tuft, eyes, ears, and temperament.

You will note that temperament is a full ¼ of the possible points earned. Hard nipping/biting is grounds to disqualification. All of the judges are gerbil owners and understand that an inquisitive nip may happen occasionally, but a hard nip/bite will disqualify even the most beautiful gerbil. The judges will was their hands after handling each gerbil.

Please spend the next month working with your gerbils. Hold them daily, check their teeth, tail, and sent glands. This will help them become accustom to they type of handling the judges will do.

As well as the standard classes, there are classes for pets, which will be a lot of fun, most active, best shoulder rider, best gnawer, most laid back, fastest racing. There will also be and exhibition area for other species such as Shaw’s Jirds, Bushy Tail, Degus…

On the day of the show you will need to arrive between 11:00 and noon. The Show secretary will give you a label for each gerbil, which you will affix, to the pen. After paying the fee, $1.00 per gerbil, the Show Secretary will have you place your gerbils in the holding area. The official showcage is a medium size Kritter Keeper. (Approximately: 12"L x 8"W x 8"H). There should only be one gerbil in a showcage, while they are being judged. A small amount of food may be added.

Read through all the Show Standards, ask tons of questions, and make your preparations early. Remember things like dirty or oily coats will cost your gerbils points. I know that over in Europe they bath their gerbils before show…. Well, I’m not ready for that, but I did see a great product on-line the other day for cleaning stains from pets. They are a lot like baby wipes, and I thought they might be worth a try. I also thought a good sand bath might be in order. At the end of it all some people will leave with first, second or third place ribbons, one very lucky person will have the Best in Show Rosette; but we will all have gained something more important than any of these outward signs of success. We as a group, the American Gerbil Society, will have pulled together in creating a legacy that will live on long after this first show is over.

So… enter your gerbils in the show, and come join us. Learn, share, make new friend, help the AGS grow, and catch the vision of what we may one day become! We hope to see you all there!



Virtual Show 2002

Best in Showby AGS Members

The entries were placed into seven catigories; Self, White belly, Color Point, Other, White Spot, Pied, and Pup.

If in these combined classes the judge felt that two gerbils of different colors both deserved 1st place that was done. This gave both an equal chance at Best in Show. The remaining gerbils would them be judged for 2nd and 3rd.

The judges tried not to consider the quality of the photographs, but the confirmation and color of the gerbils. However there were times when the quality of the picture did affect the judge’s ability to evaluate by the standards. The judges would like to than the members for their participation, and the opportunity to learn and understand the AGS Standards better.

Below you will find a list of the winners.


1st. Dove Sunray’s In Exelsis Gloria Julia Symcox
1st. Red Fox SAG’s Jared Sarah McLeod
2nd. Black Absolutely Invisible’s Cupido Sari Maukonen
3rd. Nutmeg ABC’s Lilly Donna Anastasi
White Belly:

1st. Polar Fox Absolutely Invisible’s Taikanaamion Kassu Sari Maukonen
1st. Dark Eyed Honey Mountain Ash’s Tevye Janet Morrow
2nd. Argente Golden Amber Renee Trenholm
3rd. Polar Fox Mountain Ash’s Lazar Wolf Janet Morrow
Color Points:

1st. CP Slate ABC’s Mountain Ash Cappuccino Donna Anastasi
2nd. CP Nutmeg SLG’s Angel Julia Symcox
3rd. Burmese SAG’s Benton Sarah McLeod

1st. Honey Cream Sunray’s Sunny Delight Julia Symcox
2nd. Schimmel ABC’s TDC Creamcycle Donna Anastasi
3rd. Honey Cream Mountain Ash’sTzietel Janet Morrow
White Spot:

1st. Argente SAG’s Riley Sarah McLeod
2nd. Golden Argente SAG’s Caleb Sarah McLeod
3rd. Dove Sunray’s The Little Drummer Boy “Seraph” Julia Symcox

1st. Pied Black SAG’s Benton Sarah McLeod
2nd. Black Pied Motoko Renee Trenholm
3rd. Black Pied Starlight Gerbils’s Maggie Valerie Ackley

1st. Silver Nutmeg Mountain Ash’s Hodel Janet Morrow
2nd. Siamese Starlight Gerbils’s Joy Valerie Ackley
3rd. Golden Agouti Sweat Pea Dani Marshall
Best in Show:

1st Dove Sunray’s In Exelsis Gloria Julia Symcox
2nd. Sunray’s Sunny Delight Honey Cream Julia Symcox
3rd. Silver Nutmeg Mountain Ash’s Hodel Janet Morrow


__________________GERBIL HEALTH & EDUCATION____________________

Emergency Kit

Compiled by AGS Members    Self-help

It is an excellent idea to make up a small emergency kit.  Gerbils are very small, and serious illnesses can appear with little warning.  By having the needed supplies you can start treatment immediately.

    Here are a few things to include:  

  • Kitten replacement milk:   Purchase the powder KRM, this way you can mix one teaspoon at a time.
  • Eyedropper or needless syringe:   A small infant medicine dispenser, eyedropper, or a needless syringe is used to give KRM, medicine, or to keep a sick gerbil hydrated.
  • Desk lamp with adjustable neck:   A desk lamp or clamp lamp may be used to keep a corner warm for ill gerbils.
  • Lizard heat light bulb:   A lizard bulb or 40 watt grow bulb will give a gentler heat that an ordinary bulb.
  • Stick on aquarium thermometer:   Keep the temperature around 80 degrees.
  • Extra water bottle:   Just incase one gets chewed through on a weekend or holiday.
  • Ornycycline:   Use to treat respiratory infections in pups or gerbils.
  • Neosporin:   Use on small wounds and injuries.
  • Corn syrup (Karo Syrup):   Mixed 50% Corn syrup with 50% warm water. This may be used for re-dehydration and to for gerbils with seizures.
  • Enough food for seven to ten days:   Incase of a snow storm, transportation problems, or money issues
  • Enough bedding to change the tanks once:   Incase of a snow storm, transportation problems, or money issues
  • Replace used supplies quickly
NOTE: Diagnosis and treatment of specific conditions should always be in consultation with one’s own veterinarian.



Heat Stroke and Hypothermia

by Jackie Roswell

Gerbils are well adapted to extremes of temperature, for example in Mongolia, the temperature can rise to plus and minus 40C, 104F. However like us and other animals they can suffer from heat stroke, especially if they are left in areas of direct sunlight and areas where there is insufficient ventilation.

Although coming from an area with an extreme climate, gerbils shelter from the worst excesses of temperature by burrowing underground. The burrow temperature varies far less than the surface temperature. Even so, gerbils cope very well with temperatures as high as the low 30s Celsius, 86F. Above about 25C, 77F, they will become less active and lie spread out when resting. As the air temperature rarely gets high enough to injure gerbils it is especially important to avoid allowing the gerbils to become trapped in strong sunlight, or be kept in a room with still heated air where pockets of much higher temperature can arise. Strong sunlight can make some rooms much hotter than the outside temperature. For example, with the outside temperature being about 30C, 86F, the temperature in a building exposed to the sun can easily get to higher than 40C, 104F, unless it is well insulated.

In the height of summer, you may want to reconsider where your gerbils are sited and move them to a cooler part of the house. If you keep them in a shed or other outbuilding, it is worth investing in a good quality extractor fan, which will draw cooler air in from the outside. A stable door and opening windows fitted are also useful. Make sure you have a grill fitted, which keeps cats and other unwelcome visitors out. As an added precaution, move the tanks down on to the floor on hot days, where there is cooler air. Not very tidy but it does the trick! Even if you are unable to ensure that fresh air is sucked in from outside, you can stop pockets of warm air from forming in the hottest parts of the room using a standard desk fan. The most dangerous thing is if the air is allowed to heat up and stand still. Even a little movement will help distribute the temperature more evenly and make your animals more comfortable.

The first signs of heat stress are easily recognised, the gerbils lie prone in their tanks or cages and they will be panting, sometimes moving bedding out of the way in their search for somewhere cool to lie. If you notice this, move the gerbils immediately and situate them in a cooler part of the house or shed. You can keep a large smooth stone in the fridge and place it in the cage for the gerbil to lie on if it so wishes. In more advanced cases, the gerbils will be wet around the mouth area and may well be unconscious. This is a sign of serious heat stress. It is vitally important that you get the gerbil’s temperature down as quickly as you can, otherwise it will die. To get the temperature of the gerbil down, use cool rather than freezing water. If the water is too cold, the shock of the change in temperature may well kill the gerbil. It is also important to try and get some fluids into the gerbil, again do not use freezing water.

It is important that you get your gerbil to a vet immediately. Heat stroke can cause irreparable damage to internal organs and if the gerbil is not strong enough to drink, may well need an injection of fluids, which the vet will inject subcutaneously.

A related problem is hypothermia. This is obviously more of a problem in winter, although a gerbil that gets soaking wet can quickly lose heat so it is worth bearing in mind at any time. Gerbils are well protected from cold by their thick fur and hairs on the tail, ears and feet.. However, if left for too long in temperatures below freezing they can become seriously affected.

In severe cases the gerbil or gerbils will be very cold to the touch and will be huddled together in a group. They will not respond if you touch them. It is possible to revive the gerbil, using gradual heat. I use a heated pad sold more commonly for reptiles. You can place the gerbil in a show pen, or other small plastic container, on the pad. Place some bedding in the pen, so that the gerbil is not in direct contact with the pad. Having bedding in the pen will allow the floor to heat up gradually, so that the gerbil is warmed gradually. Always have a part of the pen off the heated pad, so that when the gerbil has recovered, it can go to the cooler end of the box if it so wishes.

If you have no heated pad, then you can use a hot water bottle. Wrap a towel around the bottle so that the gerbil is not directly exposed to the heat. You will need to keep a close eye on the gerbil so that it can be moved once it is conscious and able to move around on its own.

Another method you can try which I have used successfully in the past and on a more recent trip to Belgium, is to place the gerbil next to your skin under your clothes. It restricts your movements somewhat, but is a very successful way to revive a torpid gerbil. If nothing appears to be happening, do not give up, it can take at least an hour before the gerbil starts to move.

Once the gerbil is moving around offer it some fluids and seek veterinary treatment and ensure it is kept warm and comfortable.



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_________________GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER___________________

"... all things share the same breath - the beast, the tree, the man ..."

~Chief Seattle, Duwamish



Maestro’s Brood

by Michelle Inman  “Maestrosbrood

Hello, my name is Michelle. I am the owner and breeder of Maestrosbrood. I live in the Midwest. In East Moline, Illinois.

I started raising gerbils in July of 2000, when I purchased four five-week-old pups from a local pet shop. They were Black, White, Sapphire, and Nutmeg. At the time I didn’t have a clue what they were. I’m an animal lover, but unfortunately lived in an apartment where I could not have dogs or cats. I just had to have something to cuddle and keep me amused. So these cute little fur balls seemed the perfect solution.

My original females, Brownie and Angel are no longer with me having become escapees. Maestro and Skeeter are here to stay till death do us part. Fortunately, I had bred Maestro and Angel before she escaped. They had five pups beautiful pups that I was not able to part with. They are a permanent part of the clan.

Thus was born Maestrosbrood. Newcomers have joined the clan along the way. “Ya know those must haves, when you know you really shouldn’t.” The last time I dared count there were sixty-four.

They are the most wonderful, interesting, entertaining, intelligent never a ‘dull moment’ little creatures I know. I enjoy their antics and the care they give to each other. Many of mine will kiss when asked, come when called, and even follow me around. What part do I enjoy most about raising gerbils? “Well, the part from conception until they become angels.”

They have never fail to put a smile on my face, even on my worse day.


_____________________FUN & INSPIRATIONAL_________________________

“The Escapee”

by Ann-Marie Roberts   T&T Gerbils

One hot summer morning I was checking over the herd; to my dismay, one of the herd members was missing. She had left behind her mate and pups that were only five days old. Her mate seemed bewildered that she would leave him with all five children.

Was she tired of him? Was she tired of always having to nurse the little ones? Why did she leave? Did she plan on coming back? How long had she been gone? I knew I had to find her after fixing the hole she had escaped through. I assumed the pups were getting hungry. I did not have to worry about them getting cold. Eek, the dad, was keeping them warm and snug. He sat there so innocently wondering where she had gone.

After spending an hour or more searching for her, I was in a panic. I looked high, and I looked low. I rearranged the furniture trying to find her. She was nowhere to be found. I was really getting worried about her and the pups; they were so tiny and helpless. I decided to try to feed them myself. I asked my daughter for a toy baby bottle, hoping that it would be small enough for the pups to drink from. I didn’t have any formula, so I decided to use the milk I had in the refrigerator. I carefully warmed a cup of milk in the microwave and tested the temperature on my wrist as if I were preparing a bottle for a human baby.

Trying to bottle-feed the babies proved to be very difficult. They were about one inch in length. I held them between my thumb and forefinger of my left hand, one at a time. Even though the bottle was a toy, it was still too big. All I could do was put the smallest drop of milk on their lips and let them swallow it the best they could. I was careful not to get the milk on the babies; I didn’t want them to get cold.

Later that evening I had to go down to the basement to do laundry. While down there, I could hear the sounds of little feet making a pitter-patter sound above my head. I thought, “Oh NO, she’s in the furnace ducts! How and I going to get her out of there? Should I call 911? No, they would think I’m crazy!” I had to get her out of there no matter what I had to do. The thought of her dying in there scared me; I was afraid of the smell that I would have to endure when it came time for the furnace to run in the winter. I was also concerned for the pups. I knew they probably wouldn’t make it without her even though I had begun to bottle feed them.

I studied the layout of the ducts, trying to see if she could get further lost in them. I realized she was in a section where she couldn’t go back up nor get further into the system. After realizing this, I began to look for a spot in the duct where I could make a hole for her to come out. The problem with this was that the duct was about six inches above my head. If she approached the hole I was about to make, there would be nothing there for her to step out onto.

I decided I’d better get some tools from the garage. I took off upstairs to the garage and rounded up some tools. I found a hammer, two pairs of pliers, and a regular screwdriver. I quickly returned to the basement and found a corner of the duct that I thought was a good place to start. While trying to make a hole, the thought of a mad landlord kept running through my head. I was wondering how I could explain this without sounding ridiculous.

I managed to make a small hole in the sheet metal where the corner came together. I could hear her run to the far end of the duct as I was making the hole large enough for her to fit through. The noise from the bending sheet metal must have been deafening for her. After making the hole large enough, I began to call her name, “Pepper, come here girl.” To my surprise, she would come to the hole and peek out, but she was too afraid to step out onto my hand. The floor was six feet below her; it must have looked like a mile to her. I couldn’t reach up into the hole to grab her. Her only chance of survival depended on her trusting me enough for her to step out onto my hand.

I decided to go upstairs and get some of her favorite food: sunflower seeds. I returned to the basement with the sunflower seeds and held my hand up to the hole. She would carefully step out onto my hand with her front feet, but she would quickly retreat back into the hole. When she peeked out again, I noticed her little white nose was all black from the furnace duct. I really felt sorry for her. After several attempts, she came all the way out and onto my hand. I quickly cupped her in my hands so she wouldn’t fall. I was so relieved that I had her back. It was amazing that she knew she had to come to me in order to be rescued and returned to her pups. You just never know what is going through the mind of a little gerbil named Pepper.


© 2001 American Gerbil Society Inc.