Gerbil Tales

_________________________AGS NEWSLETTER_________________________

Editor: Libby Hanna
____________________________ARTICLES______________________________

    American Gerbil Society

  1. “Letter From the Editor”    by Libby Hanna
  2. Show Reports

  3. “New England Show 2005”    by Donna Anastasi

    Gerbils Health & Education

  4. “It's Showtime! Getting Gerbils Ready for a Show”    by Janet Morrow
  5. “Heat and Hypothermia”   by Libby Hanna
  6. Quick Links: Finding a Vet

    The Pup Pages (stuff for kids by kids)

  7. “Ask Ruth”    by Ruth H., age 10
  8. “Classroom Gerbil Art”   by Thomas B., Mary K., Daniel I., and Sarah N.

    Getting to Know Each Other

  9. “El Clan de Houdini”    by Laura Pimás
  10. “Phoebe: Artist”    by Judith Block

    Fun & Inspirational

  11. “Gerbilariums: Recycled Art for Gerbils”    by Ruth & Libby Hanna

 

_________________AMERICAN GERBIL SOCIETY____________________

Letter from the Editor

By Libby Hanna, Shawsheen River Gerbils (MA)

Dear AGS Members,

Something that drew me very quickly into the AGS was its strong emphasis on ethics and standards. To a person, AGS members are dedicated to improving the characteristics of the breed and ensuring the well-being of every animal that comes into their lives (and collectively it seems that is a lot of animals!)

One way this is accomplished is by an emphasis on goals and specialties. Talk to any AGS member, and he or she will tell you about breeding goals. Some of us are breeding for mottled patterns or stunning self-colored gerbils, others for schimmel, or mainly for temperament. For all I know, some of us may be working on dwarf or mega-gerbils!

Our family’s passion is acquiring, socializing, placing and supporting gerbils in elementary school classrooms. This started innocently, as most things do, with three little female pups adopted into my younger daughter’s first-grade classroom by her extraordinarily kind and loving teacher, Deborah Davies. After that first placement, three more teachers quickly joined the classroom-gerbil ranks.

All four teachers speak highly of the calming effect the gerbils have on the classroom. Children visit the gerbils when they are troubled and need someone to talk to. The position of  “gerbil helper” is the single most coveted job in the classroom. All the children know the rules of gerbil handling, and the older children in the grade 1 & 2 multi-age class pass down their gerbil wisdom to the younger ones. Teachers even use the gerbils as a way to quiet the room - “quiet, children, the gerbils are sleeping!”

The compassion and caring that the gerbils foster in the classroom seems to spill over to sweetening the relationships between children in the room, as well. Everyone shares a concern for the gerbils’ welfare, and these shared concerns are part of the glue that holds a classroom together. The classroom gerbils help give these children the precious gifts of ethics and responsibility, and let them experience the satisfaction of working together toward mutual goals.

I'm delighted that the children from Caroline’s class have provided us with some of their artwork to grace this issue of Gerbil Tales. This issue also includes a wonderful article on Phoebe, gerbil artist extraordinare, and a chance to meet Laura Pimás, our dynamic South American AGS leader from Argentina. Please take the opportunity in upcoming months to share your goals, specialties and stories with us through this newsletter!

Sincerely,

Libby Hanna

  é

___________________SHOW REPORTS______________________

2005 New England Show

By Donna Anastasi, ABC Gerbils (NH), Show Coordinator

This year’s AGS New England Gerbil Show will be held at the Comfort Inn, Trolley Square, in Rutland, Vermont. We are fortunate to have the show and hotel co-located, so that once you arrive everything will be in walking distance. For more info, visit: http://www.hotel-rates.com/us/vermont/rutland/comfort-inn-trolley-square.html.

The show is Saturday June 11th, with health inspections of gerbils and any other animals entering the show site from 9am-11am.  For all those arriving the day before, there also will be health inspections on Friday evening, June 10th, from 5pm - 9pm.  This year the hotel has requested that we bring all animals directly to the show site, rather than to our rooms.

I encourage everyone to try to arrive the night before.  The hotel has a beautiful pool and early arrivers should have time to take a dip.  Starting at 5 pm Friday night, there will be a reception where weary travelers can rest and have a bite to eat.  This is a wonderful opportunity to say hello and chat gerbils with AGS-ers in person, perhaps for the first time.  It is a time to meet and show-off gerbils and a good time to look over and adopt new furry friends: perhaps even the next day’s winners.  (Trivia fact: the best in show winner from the first AGS show was adopted the Friday night before the show and shown by his new owner!)

The day of the show there will be many vendor tables set up.  Make sure to bring some extra money for basic and specialty gerbil supplies as well as artistic craft and gerbil novelty items.  If you have items or gerbils to sell, reserve your table now to be sure to get one.

The judging starts at 12:00 noon, so each gerbil needs to be registered, put in a labeled show pen, and placed on the judging table before then.  Avoid the late fee, and plan to register the gerbils on-line at least a week before the show.   Last minute registration is available, but is really intended for last minute entries (for example, the lovely pup you adopted the night before).

During the judging, the pet class competition takes place.  The one downside of judging the main show is that I miss the excitement and the roaring laughter coming from the next room as gerbils compete for best shoulder-rider, fastest gnawer, and other gerbil talents.

After first-place ribbons are awarded, the top gerbils move into the nail-biting best-in-show competition with the best gerbil and best of opposite sex winning show case rosette ribbons.  I hope you will go home with a ribbon (or several), but if any gerbil doesn’t do as well as you expected, please discuss him with the judge after the competition.  Many times we see a gerbil who is a little too young, a little under-handled, a little too thin, or in the middle of a major molt (all things that can change!) but has the potential to be a top winning gerbil.  Often judges say, “I hope I see this one again, when….”

Directly after the show a whole new round of gerbil swapping goes on.  Keep your eyes and ears open.  Often show winners are up for adoption.

Then, everyone heads over to a local restaurant to celebrate, converse, and laugh (a lot!) late into the night.  My daughter who loves to tell me little known trivia facts tells me that laughing burns off calories. If that is true, I probably lost a few pounds in the last AGS Gerbil Show dinner!  (Make sure to ask attendees from the Mid-West show to share the “secret” AGS handshake).

We have a nice team of volunteers, which I’d love to see grow into an even larger team.  With more people, we can do even more!  A couple of possible additions to the show would be:

  • An exhibit table: Extreme mottles? Inexpensive housing setups?? Colorful dwarf hamsters???   Last year Judith exhibited her gerbil Phoebe’s artwork
  • Mini courses, e.g., basic genetics or how to build a split cage divider.
  • Activities for those staying over to Sunday. 

I’d love to hear from anyone with an idea to make this year’s show even better and the willingness to take charge and make it happen.  Contact me at: necoordinator@agsgerbils.org with new ideas or volunteer for one of the jobs below.

Finally, I’d like to thank all of you who have already volunteered, without whom there could be no show.  Thank you!

Advertising (and behind the scenes all-around do-er) - Cara-lee
On-line advertising – Luana
NE show coordinator – Donna 
Assistant show coordinator – Christine
Show secretary – Jo 
Animal Health Supervisor – Barbara
Pet class organizer and judge – Aryka
Raffle – Libby
Judges – Janet, Kat, Donna
Judges Assistants: Morrow family (additional volunteers welcome!)
Security – Roy Wolcott and Tom Rock
Selling AGS Merchandise (AGS Table) – Kathy Dykeman and Carole Lafond
Setup/Cleanup – Cara-lee, Roy Wolcott, David Beiliski, Carole Lafond
Drivers/Runners – Roy Wolcott
Driver/Runner – David Beiliski
Driver/Runner – how about you?
Reception organizer – how about you?
Greeter – how about you?
Assistant Health Inspector – how about you?
Assistant Health Inspector – how about you?
“I’ll do whatever else needs do-ing” – how about you?

Gerbil shows are always an amazing experience; hope to see you there!

  é

__________________GERBIL HEALTH & EDUCATION__________________

It's Showtime! Getting Gerbils Ready for a Show

by Janet Morrow, Mountain Ash Gerbils (ME)

With the temperatures warming and the snow beginning to melt, many begin to think and long for spring.  For some of us crazy gerbil people, our thoughts turn to the next New England Show!  Yes, we are just two months, nine days and ten hours and forty-six minutes away. Not that I’m counting.

All year you have been checking your gerbils out; measuring their tails, scrutinizing their heads and evaluating their potential.  Now, you have narrowed it down to the ‘top ten’ contenders!  What is the next step?

Getting Started

The first thing you will need to do is register them for the show.  If you have ever been to a show you will know that things can be very hectic on Friday night and Saturday morning.  For this reason I strongly recommend registering them ahead of time using the online form. .  This will make your time at the show (and the Show Secretary’s!) more enjoyable.

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 weeks 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 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.

Reading through the AGS Standards will help answer many of your questions.  You will find the ‘official name’, descriptions, and a picture of each color.

If you are not sure, then attach a description of the color as accurately as you can, remembering to give the eye color, belly color, back color and any ticking. The Show Secretary can then help you determine the gerbil’s color.  If an error is made it will be corrected when you get to the show, so don’t worry.

All of the colors are them grouped into four classes; Self (aa), White Bellied (AA, Aa), Color Point (cchmcchm, cchmch), and Other.    For a complete listing of colors found in each class refer to the AGS Standards.

Points:

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

There is a general standard that all colors must meet.  This covers body confirmation, fur quality, tail and tuft, eye and ear shape, and temperament.  Then each color has its own specific standards that cover fur color, ticking, and eye color. A complete write up can be found in the AGS Standards.

One of the most important things you can do is read through the standards, and become familiar with them.  When you go to a show, see which gerbils win and find out why.  The judges always give a short commentary on the winners, and discuss their strong points.  By understanding what a winning gerbil should look, like you can better evaluate your gerbils, and determine which to bring to the next show. 

There is nothing you can do to change your gerbil’s body structure or color.  You cannot make your gerbils tail longer or straighter.  The thickness of the tuft, the width of its head, and the beauty of its color are inherited. 

But there are tricks of the trade to give your gerbils an edge toward the winner’s circle, namely, making sure they are clean, used to being handled, and have been given a diet and exercise to put them in top shape.

Cleanliness

brushing a gerbilMost of the show standards are dependant on gerbil genetics, and there is little that you can do about it.  However, one easy way to increase your gerbils’ chances are to make sure that their fur is clean.  As a judge, I often see yellow stains on white, spotted, and light colored gerbils.  To see if your gerbil has this problem, turn him over and look at his underside.  This is where you will most often see staining.

In Europe, show exhibitors bathe their gerbils before shows.  Last year one member, with multiple winning gerbils, gave all her show gerbils a bath before the show.  They really did look great!

While I have never bathed my gerbils, I do use Nature’s Miracle Pet Wipes on them.  These are safe, and will help to remove stains.  You may want to start working on stubborn, old stains a month in advance.

Gerbils should never be exposed to a breeze or draft, and this is especially true when they are wet.  Use chinchilla dust and a warm room or space heater to dry them after a bath or a wipe down.

My next recommendation is to bring some chinchilla dust to the show.  The judges have noted, especially at the summer shows, that many gerbils appear to have greasy fur.  It will separate, and not lay smoothly with a good sheen.  This will immediately cost you precious points that could be easily avoided.   If you have never given your gerbils a dust bath, give it a try.  When they are done take a good look at their fur.  Then feel it.  The difference can be quite amazing!  They will have a healthy sheen/shine, and the fur will be at its softest.   An added benefit is that gerbils thoroughly enjoy and good roll in chinchilla dust.

Temperament

As a judge, and gerbil enthusiast, my next recommendation would be to start working with your gerbils daily.  The importance of this cannot be overstated!  Make sure that they feel comfortable with being inspected.  Temperament accounts for 25% of the show score, and a nip can cut them out of the running.

The judges will need to hold them, turn them over to see their belly and open their mouths to see their teeth.  If your gerbil is already people-friendly, start a five-minute-a-day show preparation routine.

  • Lift them out of their housing
  • Start by giving them a few gentle strokes to calm them down
  • Turn them over and look at their belly and scent gland
  • Run your fingers down their tails a few times
  • Gently open their mouths and check out their teeth
  • With your face close to theirs, check out their eyes, ears and whiskers
  • Let them sit on your hand, or walk back and forth on your hands and arms for a minute or two
If you have another breeder near you, trade off working with each other’s gerbils. Often a gerbil will be very nice to its owner, but skittish or fearful with a stranger.  A few practice sessions in the weeks preceding the show, with a stranger, can help a lot.
holding gerbil up close

These are all things that our judges will do while spending time with your gerbil.  If gerbils are nervous they will often put their ears back, and this makes it hard to judge the ears. Each nip will cost them a point or more, and a bite is grounds for immediate disqualification from the show.

Some people have asked my why temperament accounts for so much of the show score.  This goes to the central question of:  why do we even have gerbil shows?  The primary purpose of shows is to improve the species: to make the colors and patterns more striking, to make gerbils more vigorous and healthy, and to make them better companions for their human families.  No matter how beautiful a gerbil is, it should not be bred if it is not gentle and human friendly.  Temperament is often passed on to pups.

Conformation

athletesI often read on the list about ‘fat’ gerbils, and it is true that I have had a few roly-polies myself.  However, male gerbils should be substantial and bulk shouldn’t be mistaken as fat.
gerbil conformationGerbils are not human, and we cannot compare their ‘perfect’ build to our ideals for a ‘perfect’ man.  A show quality male gerbil (in human society) would never be employed as a fashion model, a basketball player, or a swimmer.  Male gerbils should be football players.  They should look strong, and have muscular shoulders.  You would not believe how many people have told judges that one of their gerbils was ‘just too fat’ to be in the show.  Then, when he was entered, he won!  It seems that what we perceive as fat is often ‘male bulk’. 

Females should not appear thin or bony.  They would never make it into the pages of Vogue, and Twiggy would be banned from the AGS Show circuit!  (Twiggy was an ultra thin model in the 1960s.) 

The show standards state, “Symmetry and general appearance of the body are decidedly solid and firm. Females should be streamlined and athletic in appearance. Males have a larger, heftier body-type…” 

 I often hear how owners carefully remove all the sunflower and pumpkin seeds from their gerbils’ food, as they are too fattening.  Remember that they are figured into the protein and fat level on prepackaged foods.  Non-breeding show gerbils should have 12% protein and 7% fat.  If your packaged food is close to that, do not remove the sunflower and pumpkin seeds.  In fact in the month prior to the show, give them extra.  It will “bulk them up” and add a sheen to the coat.  By keeping your gerbil “trim and slim” you may be keeping them out of the winner’s circle.

On the other hand, don’t let your gerbils get fat.  If the belly is dragging on the ground or spilling over in your hands, you can be pretty sure he is overweight!

Relax and Enjoy the Show

show photoThe last and most important thing to do is relax and enjoy the show!  When it is all over, I hope you will have talked to the judges and other breeders, will have learned more about shows and show gerbils, and will leave with information (and perhaps a few beautiful, sweet new gerbils!) that will make your kennel stronger and better. 

At the end of the show, some people will go home with first, second or third place ribbons, one very lucky person will have the Best in Show Rosette, but outward signs of success are not the most important thing gained at the show.  I believe the strong bonds of friendship that are formed will last for years.  They are the adhesives that not only hold the AGS together, but help it to grow.

It is here that we meet the people that we have laughed and cried with over the year.  It is at the shows that an intangible cyber pen pal becomes a true friend.

I hope to see you all at the 2005 shows!

é

___________________________________________________________________

Heat and Hypothermia

By Libby Hanna, Shawsheen River Gerbils (MA)

All over the United States, temperatures are rising as we move from winter to spring. In the southern hemisphere, the days are growing shorter and cooler. It is the time for seasonal tasks: taking out or putting away shorts and sweaters; coiling or rolling out the garden hose. It’s also a good time to review safety precautions to protect our gerbil friends from the extremes of weather ahead.

Hot Summers: Heat Stroke

If you live where it’s hot or getting hotter, check the location of your gerbils’ tanks to make sure:

  • they are out of direct drafts from fans and air-conditioners
  • they are not receiving direct sunlight, which will greatly elevate tank temperature
  • they have fresh, clean water all the time

Even if your gerbils have been in the same location for months, seasonal changes in the position of the sun can put a tank in direct sunlight when it might not have been before. Place a thermometer next to your gerbil’s tank and check it every two hours for one day, to verify comfortable temperature (60-85 degrees Fahrenheit). If you have many tanks, consider a stick-on aquarium thermometer on each tank, or on at least one tank in each part of the room or house. These are not perfectly accurate but do give a good sense of when temperatures are becoming extreme.

High humidity levels make animals uncomfortable even at lower temperatures, so if your weather is very humid, make doubly sure temperatures stay within a reasonable range.

If you plan to travel with pets during hot weather, do not leave your gerbils (or any animal) in the car for even a few minutes, even with the windows rolled down, even if parked in the shade! It can take only a few minutes for a car to reach life-threatening temperatures.

Animals in danger from heat stroke will have high body temperatures. They will probably be lethargic, or move around jerkily. Heat stroke can bring on seizures. You might notice your gerbil’s skin or mucous membrances (mouth, nose, lips) look especially red.

If you suspect heat stroke, you must lower the animal's body temperature. Move your gerbils to a cool place immediately. Since the tank is most likely very hot, take them out of the tank and put them in a cool place, protected from escape and other animals, like in the bathtub. Placing them on a damp towel and dampening their fur can lower body temperature. You must not, however, lower the temperature below normal; so avoid extremes like placing ice on the animal, or you may face the opposite problem: hypothermia.

Cold Winters: Hypothermia

If your part of the world is cold or growing colder, perform the same temperature monitoring recommended above at two-hour intervals for one full day. Your own seasonal check should include:

  • gerbil tanks are away from cold drafts from windows or out-of-season air-conditioning vents,
  • gerbils are not so close to heat registers or radiators that tanks become too warm,
  • gerbils have a nice deep layer of bedding to nest in, and a buddy or two to snuggle with.
Hypothermic animals may also seem lethargic, or their behavior and movement may be erratic. They will probably feel cold to the touch and mucous membranes may have a blueish cast. To rescue a hypothermic animal, you must raise the animal's body temperature. You can do so by placing the animal in a warm place, using a heat lamp or reptile warming pad under the bedding, or even tucking the gerbil securely into your clothing to warm it with your body heat. As it revives, make sure water is available, and do not overheat the animal (see Heat Stroke, above).

With a little foresight and precaution, your gerbils will burrow and snuggle their way happily through all the highs and lows of temperature, gracing many changes of season with their friendly, cheerful ways.

é



___________________________________________________________________

 Quick Links: Finding a Vet

This new section of Gerbil Tales provides quick Internet references of value to gerbil owners. It is culled from email discussions on the AGS membership list. - Ed.

When your gerbil is sick, how do you find a vet experienced with small animals to treat him or her? Try these sources.

http://www.avma.org/statevma/default.asp - the American Veterinary Medical Association's database of state Veterinary Medical Associations lets you search by specialty within your state.

http://www.aemv.org - the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians lists veterinarians by state under the link for geographical location.

http://www.aav.org - the American Association of Avian Vets. Avian vets often treat other exotics as well.

http://www.ratfanclub.org/vetref.html - a list of vets recommended by the Rat Fan Club for Eastern and Midwest US.

http://www.guineapigs.info/vets/vetcheck/index.php - a list of guinea pig (cavy) vets

é

_________________THE PUP PAGES___________________

“Ask Ruth” – An Advice and Discussion Column For Kids and By Kids

Dear Ruth,

        I am 10 and have two gerbils in my bedroom.  They are both boys, and are
very friendly.  The only trouble is that sometimes they keep me awake at  night playing on their wheel.  I don't want to take them out of my room.  Do you have any suggestions?

Thank you,
Joshua

Dear Joshua,

         If  the wheel is squeaking, try oiling it with vegetable oil. The oil won't hurt the gerbils, but it will stop the wheel from squeaking. If it's the running noise the gerbils make, you can take out the wheel at night and put it back in the morning. After all, gerbils aren't nocturnal so they will be awake in the day to use the wheel.

Good luck,
Ruth

Please write to  askruth@agsgerbils.org with your questions about gerbils.
 é

___________________________________________________________________

Classroom Gerbil Art

The children in Mrs. Davies' grade 1&2 class have some of our Shawsheen River Gerbils in their classroom. The children contributed the art for this issue of Gerbil Tales. - Ed.

By Thomas B., age 8

drawing

___________________________________________________________________

By Mary K., age 8

drawing2
___________________________________________________________________

By Daniel I., age 6
drawing3
___________________________________________________________________

By Sarah N., age 6-1/2
drawing4

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_______________GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER__________________

El Clan de Houdini or, How a Gerbil Can Change Your Life

LauraBy Laura Pimás, El Clan de Houdini (Argentina)

Yes, I’m a gerbil fan.

And I’m addicted to them, maybe too much (although, can someone be addicted “too much” to gerbils? I don’t think so!) And I’m proud of it!

If someone had told me 3 years ago that I would be writing this today, I wouldn’t have believed them.

I have degrees in Tourism and Demography, and also in English (two “non-animal related” careers), and although I’ve been an animal lover all my life, I could never imagine these little fellows could change my life this much!

When I received Houdini and Aretha as a birthday present from my boyfriend, three and a half years ago, almost nobody knew about gerbils as pets here in Argentina. The moment they arrived, they stole my heart completely!

They were so tiny they could both fit in my hand (and I have really small hands, believe me!). The guy who sold them to my man “raised” them as snake food, and they were only 4 weeks old or so. (I did not know that then, but being a breeder myself now, I know by taking a look at their first photos at home).

I remember emailing Janet over and over, asking too many basic questions, since there was no information available about gerbils in Spanish, until she invited me to join the AGS group where everyone made me feel at home, although I knew nothing about gerbies and my English was a little rusty.

After that, I convinced my sister Jimena to create a Spanish Gerbil site to help others the way the AGS helped us. I’ve been a full member for almost 2 years and was the first person to join the AGS in Argentina. I’ve taken the Judges’ Training on line, and I’m now a probationary judge. Along with our site, which we mantain for educational purposes only, we have a Spanish Gerbil Forum with members from all over Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Chile, Venezuela, and México, among others.

I am responsible for bringing into Argentina the first Siamese, Burmese, Spotted and Pied gerbils, and also for having the first couple of gg gerbils (Grey Agouti). All these wonderful gerbils came from Brazil.

In 2004, the AGS gave me the generous, unique opportunity of taking care of the official AGS Spanish site, and now I’m devoted, with as much time as I can, to the Latinoamerica AGS Gerbils project.

I feel honored and grateful, and I certainly aim to honor what the AGS stands for: “Education, Responsibility, Excellence”, in every moment, in every way I possibly can. However, the most important change in my life has to do with relationships. Because of all this, I’ve met wonderful people, making friends and bonds that  I know will last forever. I can proudly say that I have many  beloved sisters and brothers around the globe because of my gerbils.

Thank you all for letting me be part of this wonderful family, and I’m warning you: If I make it to the 2005 NE Show, I’m gonna hug you all, so be prepared!

  é

___________________________________________________________________

Phoebe: Artist

By Judith Block, Knolls Gerbils (NY)

PhoebeOur beloved gerbil, Phoebe (RIP), was an artist: more specifically, a sculptor.

I had given Phoebe thick, colored, cardboard tubes to chew, as I give all our gerbils. But no gerbil, not even her sons, Bacchus and Dionysius, who inherited her sweet face and disposition, has ever chewed abstract designs into the tubes, as Phoebe did. We have had gerbils since 1972.

Phoebe's sculptures are not accidents or examples of random chewing. They are too well designed and have a definite style. We could not believe our eyes- Phoebe would chew, then step back to observe her work, and then chew some more in a particular spot, or move to another area. We saw her do this over and over again!  She even worked as an “obsessed” artist (as I often do), for hours, without a break to eat or drink. It took her about two weeks to complete a sculpture. I thought she would do two or three, but she ended up completing ten of them, an impressive body of work for any artist! 

Phoebe, in her short life, had quite an artistic career,  became more famous, and brought more smiles and happiness to more people, than most humans do in a lifetime. Because of her sweet face, Phoebes photograph  was chosen to accompany an article on gerbils as pets, published in the column, “Animal House”, by well known animal columnist and writer, Denise Flaim, in New York Newsday (May 13, 2003).

Articles were published about Phoebe’s life in The Riverdale Press, (article by Joe Ryan,  May 22, 2003); The Riverdale Review, (by Marilyn Reinhard, May 29, 2003); and The Telegraph, Nashua, New Hampshire & Region, (by  Susan L. Childress, June 29, 2003).

I created a portfolio of Phoebe’s sculptures, complete with preface and accompanying Haiku poems (wonderfully translated into Spanish by AGS member, Laura Pimás). Photographs of her sculptures were displayed at the AGS Kentucky-Bluegrass Show, Lexington, Kentucky (Oct. 11, 2003).

Phoebe, the Website (www.geocities.com/phoebe_art04/, the on-line version of the
Phoebe Portfolio), was created by AGS President, Janet Morrow, in Nov. 2003.

Phoebe had a posthumous art exhibition of her sculptures at  AGS Northeast Show in Rutland, Vermont, (June 26, 2004), with an accompanying book of her sculptures (a bound copy of the complete Phoebe Portfolio, printed by AGS member, Mark Morrow), just as any professional artist would have! This wonderful book, which was created as a fundraiser for the AGS (can't think of a more worthy cause!), can be purchased on line (www.agsgerbils.org/Store/). It makes a terrific coffee table book and conversation piece, and  is a great gift for gerbil and/or art lovers- a book to be enjoyed and cherished forever!).

Heartbreakingly, Phoebe died of genetic kidney disease on January 15, 2004, four months after the death of her brother, Prancelot (owned by AGS member, Karen Biehl). We would trade all her accomplishments and fame to have her still with us, alive and healthy.


PHOEBE SCULPTURE HAIKU
By Judith H. Block
Spanish Translation
By Laura Pimás

Phoebe 6
Phoebe 8
Twilight on the Gobi
The  violet hour.
The long, hot day is over.
I love the cold night.

Crepúsculo en el Gobi
La hora púpura.
El ardiente, largo dia ha terminado.
Amo la fria noche.

Antler totem of the Gobi
The grace of Ibex;
Ancestral remains of horn.
Black tailed gazelles run.

Totem de Asta del Gobi
La gracia del ibix;
Ancestrales vestigios de cornamentas.
Corren las gacelas de negras colas.

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___________________FUN & INSPIRATIONAL________________________

Gerbilariums

by Ruth and Libby Hanna, Shawsheen River Gerbils (MA)

gerbilarium

Whether your gerbils live at home or at school, a gerbilarium is a great project. A gerbilarium is a bunch of cardboard boxes that are connected. They are fun to make and fun for your gerbil to play in.

Gerbilariums are cheaper than plastic toys. Also, the gerbils enjoy them more. It is like living in Chuck E. Cheese!

To make a gerbilarium you need only a few supplies: some boxes, a few tubes and glue. First, brainstorm a few ideas for unique features of your gerbilarium (staircase, lookout platform, etc.) Next, take the boxes and tubes and put them in the tank in the arrangement that you want. (Make sure that your gerbilarium fits in the gerbil tank.) Then, using hot glue or Elmer’s glue, glue your gerbilarium together. Use as little glue as possible. Add special features. Next, wait for the glue to dry. Put some bedding in the tank first, because once you get the gerbils in, you will probably not get them out! Add your gerbilarium, then your gerbils, and let the fun begin!

gerbil runYou can also build a fun gerbil run out of a large cardboard box. This box measured 37"x18"x13" to start and had contained some build-it-yourself shelving. We taped the box shut and then cut it lengthwise with a box cutter. Then we folded over any extra flaps and taped everything down.


We used leftover bits and pieces of the box to make the moveable maze you see inside. A few empty boxes or plastic toys complete the gerbil jungle gym. Put in some newspaper just to keep things clean between visitors.

The sides are high enough to keep gerbils in (although a determined gerbil could scramble out, so we only let them play when we can watch them!)

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2005 American Gerbil Society Inc.