_________________________AGS NEWSLETTER_________________________

Editor: Kylee Dickey


    American Gerbil Society

  1. “Letter From The Editor”   by Kylee Dickey

    Show Reports

  2. 2006 MW Show Report   by Kylee Dickey

    Show Results

  3. 2006 MW Show Results    Compiled by Jo Kelley
  4. 2006 NE Show Results      Compiled by Jo Kelley
  5. 2005 MW Show Summary      Compiled by Jo Kelley
  6. 2005 NE Show Summary      Compiled by Jo Kelley

    Gerbils Health & Education

  7. “Help! I’ve Got Mites!    by Donna Anastasi
  8. “Animal Hoarding”   reprinted with permission from Rhode Island SPCA Newsletter
  9. “Split Cage Introductions”  by Donna Anastasi
  10. “Quick Links: Learning Gerbil Genetics”  compiled from the AGS List

    The Pup Pages (stuff for kids by kids)

  11. “Ask Ruth” by Ruth H., age 11
  12. “Guest Artists & Authors” - Mrs. Wait’s Kindergarten Class

    Getting to Know Each Other

  13. “Black Wolf Clan”    by Jo Kelley
  14. Fun & Inspirational

  15. “How I Got Into Gerbils”    by Haley Wendell
  16. “Top 10 Ways to Sneak a New Gerbil into the House”  compiled from the AGS List by Diane Nott
  17. “Gerbil Color Puzzle”   by Libby & Ruth Hanna


Letter from the Editor

Kylee Dickey,  Twin Squeaks Gerbils (NE)

Dear AGS Members,

Although I've been a member of the American Gerbil Society for several years, I didn't make it to my first gerbil show until this fall. As a probationary judge, I had the opportunity to see many absolutely beautiful gerbils. I also got to meet several wonderful people who share my love of gerbils. And as if all of that weren't enough excitement for one month, in a whirlwind turn of events, less than two weeks after the show, I became the new editor of the Gerbil Tales newsletter.

For those of you who don't know me, I'm Kylee Dickey of Twin Squeaks Gerbils. I've been a member of the AGS since late in 2002, back when I was the proud caretaker of only two gerbils, Audrey and Ramona. I am not a breeder but have instead focused my efforts on educating gerbil owners as well as the general public about responsible gerbil care. We all know how much misinformation is out there. Most of us have fielded frantic messages for help from first-time gerbil owners who got bad advice from a book or a pet shop employee. Most of us have received at least one message from someone who just didn't know any better than to use pine bedding or to attempt a cold intro with two adult gerbils. I was very lucky to never make any of these tragic mistakes with my gerbils, because I found the AGS list and learned so much here. Audrey, Ramona, and all of the gerbils I've had since then thank all of you for how much you helped me.

I hope that now I can return the favor and give back to the AGS by serving as the editor of Gerbil Tales. Although I took over Gerbil Tales recently, this issue wouldn't exist if it weren't for the previous editor, Libby Hanna, who put a lot of hard work into Gerbil Tales. I want to personally thank her for all of the great ideas that she'd molded and articles that were already set in motion before she handed the reins over to me. Thank you!

I would like to publish Gerbil Tales as close to quarterly as is possible. In order to do that, we'll need lots of great ideas, articles, and other contributions, so please, if you have any article ideas or thoughts for how to make Gerbil Tales better, please share them with me, and I'll do my best to incorporate your ideas. If you have an article you'd like to write, let me know, and I'll try to fit it into an upcoming issue!

You'll find a lot of great information in this issue, including advice for ridding your kennel of mites, a guide to split-caging, links to genetics information, the results of the past several gerbil shows, a report from the 2006 Midwest Show, the history of Black Wolf Clan, some wonderful artwork by elementary school students, and much more.

I look forward to working with all of you to continue Gerbil Tales' tradition as a great source of information about our members, our group's events, and, of course, our gerbils.


Kylee Dickey
Gerbil Tales Editor

___________________SHOW REPORTS______________________

2006 Midwest Show Report

By Kylee Dickey,  Twin Squeaks Gerbils (NE)

The 2006 Midwest Gerbil Show was held at the Oasis Inn & Convention Center in Springfield, Missouri on October 21st. Tana Lyman of Little Rascals was the show coordinator, and she did an excellent job of planning.

Group photo taken after the show at the AGS Dinner

We had a tremendous turn-out from AGS members and gerbils this year. Members in attendance included Donna Anastasi of ABC Gerbils (New Hampshire), Kylee Dickey of Twin Squeaks Gerbils (Nebraska), Ruth Divine of Ruth's Refuge (Missouri), Cory Hoover of C & J Kennels (Nebraska), Michelle Inman and her daughter (Illinois), Jo Kelley of Black Wolf Clan (Missouri), Tana Lyman of Little Rascals and her husband (Missouri), Elaine Lynch and her husband (Oklahoma), Dani Marshall of Lots Of Love Kennel and her son (Kansas), Katie McQueen of Pocafiki Gerbils (Oklahoma), Amy Paben (Oregon), Judi and Emily Poirier (Massachussetts), Michele Rush of Double Star Kennels (Nebraska), Kecia Santerre of Furry Flowers (New Hampshire), and Jessi Gray (Missouri). Many members made special efforts to get to this show. Donna Anastasi and Amy Paben both flew, Donna from the east coast and Amy from the west coast. Judi, Emily, and Kecia drove all the way from the east coast in very tight quarters, because not only their own gerbils but also Donna's gerbils hitched a ride to the show.

Even the members who had shorter trips faced challenges. For instance, Michele, Cory, and I had quite an adventure playing “Gerbil Tetris,” as we attempted to arrange an assortment of tanks and carriers so that they would fit inside Michele's Jeep Liberty. Given the numbers of gerbils in attendance at the show, I can only assume that other members had similar experiences and are also experts at “Gerbil Tetris” now.

Elaine's creative display about gerbil playtime.

Elaine Lynch made an outstanding display about gerbil playtime, which she set up just outside the doors to the show room. Her display explained which toys are gerbil-safe and which are not. She also had handouts with a lot of very useful and entertaining ideas. Elaine did a great job of greeting the public and helping to educate those who attended the show.

There were three first-time show-goers in attendance at this year's show: Cory Hoover, Jessi Gray, and myself. Although this was Cory's first show, his gerbils did very well in show, as you can see in the Show Results. The head judges at the show were Donna Anastasi, Ruth Divine, Tana Lyman, and Amy Paben. They were assisted by Kecia Santerre, who completed her probationary judging at this show, and by Katie McQueen and myself, both of whom were first-time probationary judges.

Last-minute preparation of tables and displays before the doors opened to the public.

This year's Midwest Show was remarkable because of the large number of gerbils who competed. More than 70 gerbils were judged, and for the first time in AGS history, some classes were large enough that they were split into subclasses to accommodate the growing class sizes. Springfield 33 News sent a cameraman, and the Midwest Show was featured on the Springfield 33 10:00 news that night. The coverage was excellent, with a lot of information about why gerbils make great pets, many adorable shots of members' display gerbils, and a brief interview with Donna.

ABC's Silver Belle, an eight-month-old lilac female, took Best In Show, a major accomplishment, because Best In Show is generally awarded to a male. However, Silver Belle was a strong contender and came out on top. FF's Caramel Swirl, a one-year-old mottled agouti male, received the ribbon for Best Opposite Sex. The judges awarded a special honorary mention, the Judges' Choice Award, to C&J's LOL's Kama, a five-month-old yellow fox female, who was still quite young but whom the judges expect to do very well in her next show. Finally, the People's Choice Award went to DSG's Random, a seven-month-old Burmese Spot Male, with a very handsome masculine build. Random was also one of the contenders for Best In Show.

Several special awards were also presented. First, Tana Lyman of The Little Rascals received her AGS Breeder's Color Certificate for accumulating 15 show points for her Siamese gerbils. Jo Kelley of Black Wolf Clan also received her AGS Breeder's Color Certificate for achieving a total of 15 points for her Mottled gerbils. In addition, Black Wolf Clan's Enchanted Illusion (also known as “Robin”) achieved Championship status by collecting eight show points under at least two AGS judges. Congratulations to all of the winners at the 2006 Midwest Show!

A Gerbil Bingo card

After the show, the AGS Dinner was held at Sizzler. It was a great opportunity for members to get to know each other. After dinner, the group played Gerbil Bingo. Ruth called out gerbil colors and/or spot patterns. Instead of shouting, “Bingo!” the winner had to stomp like a gerbil. During one game of Bingo, every player in the room was waiting for Ruth to call “Pied.” Had she called “Pied,” everyone in the room would have been stomping, which would have certainly gained the attention of the other guests at Sizzler.

I've posted a collection of my photos from the 2006 Midwest Show. Michelle Inman has also posted a collection of photos from the show, many of which her daughter Lindsay took.

This was the first show I've been to. It was such an incredible opportunity to meet other AGS members, judge many friendly and absolutely stunning gerbils, and visit all of the great displays on the show floor. I have no doubt that I will attend every gerbil show that I possibly can in the future. I'd urge any AGS member within a reasonable distance of a gerbil show to go. You won't regret it; it's a truly great experience.

2006 Midwest Show Results
Compiled by Jo Kelley
Pup Class, Non-Spotted
1st 10-week Siamese M Donna Anastasi ABC Gerbils (NH)
2nd 9-week Burmese M Kecia Santerre Furry Flowers (NH)
3rd 8-week Colorpoint Agouti M Jo Kelley Black Wolf Clan (MO)
Pup Class, Spotted
1st 11-week Mottled Black M Donna Anastasi ABC Gerbils
2nd 6-week Mottled Black F Kecia Santerre Furry Flowers
3rd 11-week Honey Cream F Jo Kelley Black Wolf Clan
Other Class
1st 1-year Honey Cream M Kecia Santerre Furry Flowers
BOS 1.5-year Schimmel F Judi & Emily Poirier (MA)
2nd 1-year Schimmel M Michele Inman Maestro's Brood (IL)
3rd 2-year Schimmel M Kecia Santerre Furry Flowers
Self Class, Ticked
1st 7-month Nutmeg M Michele Inman Maestro's Brood
2nd 5-month Nutmeg F
3rd 8-month Nutmeg F Donna Anastasi ABC Gerbils
Self Class, Non-Ticked
1st 8-month Lilac F Donna Anastasi ABC Gerbils
BOS 2-year PEW M Judi & Emily Poirier
2nd 4-month Slate F Cory Hoover C & J Kennels (NE)
3rd 1-year Lilac M Donna Anastasi ABC Gerbils
White Belly
1st 5-month Yellow Fox F Cory Hoover C & J Kennels
2nd 5-month Polar Fox F
3rd 5-month Grey Agouti F
Spot Class, Colorpoint & Black
1st 7-month Burmese Spot M Michele Rush Double Star Kennels (NE)
BOS 1-year CPN Spot F Kecia Santerre Furry Flowers
2nd 1-year Siamese Spot M
3rd 1-year Burmese Spot M Katie McQueen Pocafiki Gerbils (OK)
Spot Class, Others
1st 2-year Dove Spot M Judi & Emily Poirier
BOS 5-month CPGA Spot F Dani Marshall Lots Of Love Kennel (KS)
2nd 1-year Silver Nutmeg Spot M Jo Kelley Black Wolf Clan
3rd 1.5-year Dove Spot Katie McQueen Pocafiki Gerbils
Pied Class, Black & Colorpoint
1st 2-year Pied Black M Michele Rush Double Star Kennels
2nd 5-month Pied CPS M Michelle Inman Maestro's Brood
3rd 5-month Pied Black F Katie McQueen Pocafiki Gerbils
Pied Class, Other
1st 1-year Argente Pied F Kecia Santerre Furry Flowers
2nd 4-month Ivory Cream Pied F Cory Hoover C & J Kennels
3rd 6-month CPS Pied F Katie McQueen Pocafiki Gerbils
Mottled Class, Black
1st 2-year Mottled Black M Jo Kelley Black Wolf Clan
BOS 1-year Mottled Black F Donna Anastasi ABC Gerbils
2nd 11-month Mottled Black M Michele Rush Double Star Kennels
3rd 1-year Mottled Black M Jo Kelley Black Wolf Clan
Mottled Class, Others
1st 1-year Mottled Agouti M Kecia Santerre Furry Flowers
2nd 1-year Mottled Siamese M
3rd 1-year Mottled Siamese M Ruth Divine Ruth’s Refuge (MO)
1st 4-month Burmese F Donna Anastasi ABC Gerbils
2nd 5-month CPS F Katie McQueen Pocafiki Gerbils
3rd 2-year Burmese M Kecia Santerre Furry Flowers
Best In Show
ABC's Silver Belle
8-month Lilac Female
Bred & shown by Donna Anastasi of ABC Gerbils (NH)
Best Opposite Sex
FF's Caramel Swirl
1-year Mottled Agouti Male
Bred & shown by Kecia Santerre of Furry Flowers (NH)
Judges' Choice (Honorable Mention)
C&J's LOL's Kama
5-month Yellow Fox Female
Bred by Dani Marshall of Lots Of Love Kennel (KS)
& shown by Cory Hoover (NE)
People's Choice Award
DSG's Random
7-month Burmese Spot Male
Bred & shown by Michele Rush of Double Star Gerbils (NE)
AGS Breeder's Color Certificate Awarded
Tana Lyman of The Little Rascals (MO)
Jo Kelley of Black Wolf Clan (MO)
AGS Gerbil Championship Recognition
BWC's Enchanted Illusion (Robin)
2-year Black Mottled Male from Black Wolf Clan (MO)

2006 NE Show Results
Compiled by Jo Kelley
Pup Class
1st 8-week Mottled Black F Melissa Socolow & students
2nd 8-week Mottled Gray Agouti M
3rd 7-week Mottled Burmese F Haley Wendell Kismet's Corner Kennels (MA)
Self Class
1st 1.5-year PEW M Judi & Emily Poirier (MA)
BOS 9-month Black F Donna & Katie Anastasi ABC Gerbils (NH)
2nd 9-month Nutmeg M Joelle Clermont (Canada)
3rd 1-year Black M Donna & Katie Anastasi ABC Gerbils
Colorpoint Class
1st 1-year Siamese M Donna Anastasi ABC Gerbils
2nd 1.5-year CPN M
3rd 1-year Burmese F
Other Class
1st 2-year Champagne M Joelle Clermont
2nd Schimmel Haley Wendell Kismet's Corner Kennels
3rd 1-year Honey Cream M
Spotted Class
1st 1.5-year Dove Spot M Judi & Emily Poirier
BOS 6-month Yellow Fox Spot F Brenda Crowell
2nd 5-month Silver Nutmeg Spot M Jo Kelley Black Wolf Clan
3rd 6-month CPGA Spot M Jenn Bell Dragon Clan (MA)
Pied Class
1st 3-month Pied Agouti M Michele Rush Double Star Gerbils (NE)
2nd 6-month Pied Siamese F Donna Anastasi ABC Gerbils
3rd Pied Argente F Haley Wendell Kismet's Corner Kennel
Mottled Class
1st 2.5-year Mottled Burmese M Jo Kelley Black Wolf Clan
BOS 1-year Mottled Black F Donna Anastasi ABC Gerbils
2nd 1.5-year Mottled Agouti M Larry Newman
3rd 4-month Mottled Black F Donna & Katie Anastasi ABC Gerbils
White Belly Class
1st 1.5-year Argente M Judi & Emily Poirier
BOS 1-year Agouti F Justin & Renee Arena (MA)
2nd 1-year Argente M Haley Wendell Kismet's Corner Kennel
3rd 1-year Agouti M Brenda Crowell
Best In Show
BWC's Free 2 Fly (Tag)
Mottled Burmese Male
Bred & shown by Jo Kelley of Black Wolf Clan
Best Opposite Sex
ABC's Sweet Hope
Black Female
Bred & shown by Donna Anastasi of ABC Gerbils
AGS Gerbil Championship Recognition
BWC's Free 2 Fly (Tag)
Mottled Burmese Male
Bred & shown by Jo Kelley of Black Wolf Clan

2005 MW Summary
(Best In Show & Special Awards)

Compiled by Jo Kelley
Best In Show
BWC's Enchanted Illusion (Robin)
10-month-old Mottled Black Male
Bred & shown by Jo Kelley of Black Wolf Clan
Best Opposite Sex
FF's Cuteness
6-month-old Mottled Burmese Female
Bred & shown by Kecia Santerre of Furry Flowers
People's Choice Winners
(a tie)
BWC's Winter Blessings (Raven)
5-month-old Mottled Black Male
Bred & shown by Jo Kelley of Black Wolf Clan
LOL's Jacob Star
5-month-old Colorpoint Slate Male
Bred & shown by Dani Marshall of Lots Of Love Kennel
AGS Gerbil Championship Recognitions
FF's Cuteness
Mottled Burmese Female
Bred & shown by Kecia Santerre of Furry Flowers
DC's BWC's Kadith
Pied Grey Agouti Male
Bred by Jo Kelley of Black Wolf Clan & shown by Jenn Bell of Dragon Clan

2005 NE Summary
(Best In Show & Special Awards)

Compiled by Jo Kelley
Best In Show
DC's BWC's Kadith
Pied Grey Agouti Male
Bred by Jo Kelley of Black Wolf Clan & shown by Jenn Bell of the Dragon Clan
Best Opposite Sex
FF's Yin
Pink-Eyed White Female
Bred & shown by Kecia Santerre of Furry Flowers


__________________GERBIL HEALTH & EDUCATION__________________

Help! I’ve Got Mites!

   by Donna Anastasi,  ABC Gerbils (NH)

What are mites?

Commonly called “mites”, blood lice are brown, slow crawling parasites not much bigger than a period in this sentence. When you squash one it pops blood. You may discover you have mites because when you look very carefully you see them on your gerbils, on the glass in your tank, inside the wooden nest box, or on the spout of your water bottle. You might also feel a burning itch on your forearms and around your belly button and see small red dots. Though mites prefer gerbils, they do bite people, too.

How do you get mites?

Iíve personally gone through three bouts with mites! These are the ways I got mites:

  1. I adopted animals (with tank, bedding, etc.) that I later discovered had mites. By the time I realized these animals had mites, most of my other gerbils did too.
  2. I visited a Pet Store and after looking at the rats for a while, I noticed they were heavily infested with mites. I unknowingly brought some of these mites home on me. A few weeks later several gerbil tanks had mites.
  3. A wild mouse got into the house and was crawling on top of a gerbil tank (a couple of weeks later those gerbils had mites).

Though, Iíve not yet gotten mites this way, mites can also come home in pre-packaged food or bedding.

How can you prevent getting mites?

Adopt only from a reliable source. Place any new animals in a fresh tank with new bedding. As part of the initial quarantine, keep them on white carefresh or white tissue paper for a few days to better see any mites. Avoid or severely limit holding new animals for the first few days and wash hands well with Purell after touching the tank or animals. If the source is at all questionable, consider giving the gerbils a preventative dose of Ivermectin.

If you ever see mites on animals at a pet store or gerbil kennel you are visiting, you might have mites or eggs on you. As soon as you get home, wash your clothes in hot water and laundry detergent. Then shower using Head ĎN Shoulders as a shampoo and body wash.

If you have wild mice in your house, try to keep the gerbils as far away from the wild mice as possible. Get rid of the wild mice in the house as soon as possible. Look carefully for mites on the gerbils and treat at the first sign.

Some people freeze food and bedding before using it as a preventative.

How do you get rid of mites?

The first time I got mites, it took several months to get rid of them; even though I wouldnít see the mites for a weeks at a time, they kept coming back. The second time I didnít see any a couple of weeks after the first treatment and they never came back. The third time I didnít see any after the first day of treatment and with a 30 day comprehensive treatment -- they never came back. So what is the secret?

Well, Iíve discovered that mites are easy to kill, but hard to keep dead. Even if you kill 99.9% of the mites and donít see any for a few weeks, those last few mites will eventually create a whole new infestation. Then you are back where you started. The one and only way to kill mites is to kill every one of them, including the new hatchlings, and give them no place to hide. In other words, you have to follow a total treatment plan, consisting of five steps:

  • Step 1. Kill the live mites and eggs in the tank. All wooden toys are tossed out (this is the most painful part). Everything made of plastic or metal is washed in scalding hot water or run through the dishwasher. If they don't eat or drink out of it put a little bleach in the scalding hot water, then rinse thoroughly Also spray bird mite spray around the inside rim of the clean gerbil tank and on the wire mesh lid.
  • Step 2. Kill the live mites and eggs outside the tank. Spray down shelving and hard floors with indoor bug spray. Sprinkle flea powder on the rugs and vacuum them.
  • Step 3. Kill the mites currently crawling on the gerbils. Spray the inside of a small kritter cage with bird mite spray. Then spray the gerbils down to the skin and put them in the kritter cage for a minute or two (their noses might turn a little red, but this goes away quickly).
  • Note: Donít treat pups this way, by spraying down to the skin - a light mite spray and immediate drying only. If a pup has a bad reaction to the mite spray, they will go stiff (and soon die), immediately rinse off the mite spray by dunking the baby in warm water or running warm water over the baby.

  • Step 4. Kill the mites that will hatch and bite your gerbil in the coming week. Give your gerbils an oral dose of Ivermecin (your vet can mix you the proper dose). Dose the gerbils every 10 days for a total of three treatments. With the Ivermecin in the gerbilís blood stream any mites that feed on the gerbils will die.
  • Note: pregnant and nursing females and young pups cannot have the Ivermectin!

  • Step 5. Kill the mites on you. As soon as you finish treating you tanks and gerbils wash your clothes in laundry detergent and hot water. They take a hot shower using Head Ní Shoulders as a body wash and shampoo (it has the same active ingredient as bird mite spray!). Handle the gerbils as little as possible during the treatment, especially at the beginning and wash hands and arms well in Purell or hot water and soap if you touch the tank cover (to feed the gerbils), water bottles, or gerbils.

With early detection (before the mite problem gets too severe) and a total treatment plan (with absolutely, positively no skipping steps or taking shortcuts!!!), you should be able to kill the mites, keep them dead, and be mite-free in 30 days.


Animal Hoarding

Reprinted with permission from the Rhode Island SPCA Newsletter Happy Tails to U, Spring 2005

by E. J. Finocchio, DVM, RISPCA General Agent

Have you ever heard of animal hoarding? Chances are someone in your neighborhood or community is an animal hoarder. This is not a pleasant article so please proceed knowing that. Hoarding of animals in Rhode Island is not a crime but most likely looked upon as a psychological disorder. Once hoarding behavior begins, the compulsion to continuously take in animals supersedes other aspects of the hoarder’s life.

Animal hoarders exhibit certain characteristics, behaviors and attitudes. They collect an unusual number of animals and are unable to provide the animals with proper nutrition, shelter, sanitation, veterinary care and socialization.

Most hoarders have difficulty comprehending the impact of their negligence on the well-being of the animals which often results in starvation, illness and death. They usually profess great love for their animal victims and constantly seek to acquire more. They frequently visit shelters looking to adopt animals because they believe they are the only ones who can save them. Hoarding is not a disorder of only the socioeconomically disadvantaged but has been observed in highly educated professionals, including veterinarians.

The living conditions under which hoarder and animals live are often times deplorable, unsafe and unfit for human habitation. Hoarders will often keep dead animals because even after death they have difficulty parting with them. Dead animals are frequently found stacked in closets, garages, and many times placed in freezers. The dwellings are usually fire hazards, flithy, cluttered, have higher than normal ammonia levels, are rodent and insect infested and have problems with heating, plumbing and electricity. Most homes or apartments do not meet city zoning codes or ordinances and are ultimately condemned by housing officials. During warmer weather, foul odors can be easily detected by neighbors.

Hoarders are skilled in their deception, often times intelligent, and possess good communication skills capable of attracting sympathy for themselves. They live a clandestine lifestyle, are often loners and avoid social interaction at home. Many hoarders believe they are “rescuing” animals by continually bringing more home. A hoarder’s biggest fear is being discovered. Most hoarders exhibit a sterotypical profile:

  • 76% are female
  • 50% are over 50 years old
  • are single, widowed or divorced
  • live alone
  • have experienced a personal tragedy
  • have estranged families
  • live a double life
  • also collect inanimate objects
  • are not neighborly

Animal hoarding is as much a people issue as it is an animal issue. It is a complex, disappointingly misunderstood problme that transcends those responsible for enforcing animals cruelty laws. The problem is multifaceted and involves not only animal cruelty, but public health, mental health, elderly affairs, zoning, building safety and sanitation.

Most cases are rarely resolved due to the tremendous resources needed to address the problem. Due to the large number of animals involved, even one hoarding case can place a serious burden on the budgets and employees of municipal shelters. Unfortunately many of the animals confiscated are euthanized because of the inability of towns to cope with cases. In Rhode Island, hoarders are arely if ever prosecuted because many of them are pathetic individuals suffering from medical or psychological problems.

Finding a solution to this societal enigma will require a multifaceted approach by many agencies. By not prosecuting these individuals, we prevent them from getting the help they need, not to mention the animals invovled. Taking hoarding seriusly and not sticking our heads in the sand as if it didn't exist is the correct approach. The problem is much bigger than you can imagine in our little state. Animal hoarding is a problem that law enforcement, medical and human services must become more knowledgable about in order to address its devastating toll on the quality of animal and human life.


Split-Cage Introductions

By Donna Anastasi,  ABC Gerbils (NH)
& Libby Hanna,  Shawsheen River Gerbils (MA)

Photos by Ellen Bellini and Libby Hanna

Why a Split Cage?

Gerbils are social animals and it is important to keep them in pairs for companionship, security, cuddling and grooming. However, two gerbils that are strangers must be carefully and gradually introduced, otherwise they might fight violently. A split cage arrangement is used as a temporary means to introduce two gerbils. A split cage should not be used as a permanent housing setup. First off, it can be frustrating to gerbils to see and not touch (especially a boy and girl), second gerbils can be very persistent about getting through the divider and an unsupervised visit may lead to an injured gerbil or worse.

The most important thing for a successful gerbil introduction is the personalities of the two gerbils being introduced: some gerbils are simply more “gerbil-friendly” and more accepting of other gerbils. That said, certain introductions tend to be easier than others:

  • The easiest gerbil introduction is two (or more) young pups, six weeks or younger. Note however that even if both gerbils are pups, if one is older and bigger than the other, especially with female pups she may bully the little one and youíll need a split cage.
  • Some older males are very nurturing and will take to a young pup (male or female) right away.
  • Other do-able introductions are: young gerbils of about the same age and size, whether they are two boys, two girls, or one of each.
  • An older female might accept a new friend; but some seem to prefer to be on their own. You may have better luck introducing her to a male, than a female. Usually females over 2 Ĺ years old are too old to produce babies, though gerbils will continue to mate their whole lives.

These are dangerous introductions that are not recommended:

  • A lone gerbil introduced to a group of two or more gerbils
  • Introduction of two groups of gerbils to each other
  • An adult female gerbil to a young pup

Sometimes two young pups can be directly introduced; all other introductions should be done with a split cage. Using a split cage allows the gerbils to learn each othersí smell without exposing them to harm.

split cageUse ľ inch mesh wire cloth purchased from a hardware store and cut to fit to divide the tank. Fasten it with masking tape to the split a 10 gallon tank and replace the tape as needed, as the gerbils will gnaw at it. Use masking tape rather than duct tape, because the string in duct tape is dangerous if eaten by the gerbils. Before putting the gerbils in the split cage, make sure that there is no way the gerbils can get over, under, or around the divider!

Put a brick or other heavy object on top of the tank lid so that the gerbils cannot push up the tank cover and climb over the divider. Or clip the tank lid to the tank to secure it.

If you prefer to buy rather than build a split cage, purchase a Coast Cages Hamster Condo (available online from Petco) and remove the plastic bottom. Then set the whole cage inside the tank, securing the wheel so it cannot turn. Hang a water bottle for each gerbil and make sure that the cage's bottom is against the glass, not sitting on bedding which can be dug out by gerbils in their frenzy to get at each other.

Getting Started

Starting with a clean tank and fresh litter, put the gerbils in the split cage: one gerbil on each side of the divider. Provide no toys or accessories while introducing the gerbils; this way there is nothing to get them territorial. Give only unscented toilet tissue and a small cardboard box taped near the divider (so they nest, sleep and gnaw near one another.) Swap the gerbils between sides or enclosure at least few times a day (the more often the better).

After your two gerbils have been in the split cage for at least week, take any boxes or other items out (so there are no territories or hiding places), swap the gerbils between sides one more time and, after a few minutes, try removing the divider. If you feel this is going to be a more difficult introduction, clean out the tank before removing the divider.

When putting the two gerbils together, pick a day when you are home. Wear a thick glove and keep it on-hand or handy at all times in case you need to break up a gerbil fight. Also have a smaller cage on hand in case you need to split the gerbils or put one in a short timeout. Plan to carry the tank from room to room with you. Do not take your eyes off the gerbils until they are successfully introduced.

WARNING: two gerbils in the middle of a fight will chomp down on anything that touches them, a stick, a water bottle, a glove or a bare hand. It is an automatic reaction. Never stick your hand in between gerbils that are fighting! Gerbils have no idea it is you, and you will get bit, badly. If you get bit by a gerbil and do not have a current tetanus shot, call your physician.

Introducing Two Gerbils

Once the split cage divider is removed, you might see the gerbils lick mouths and sniff bottoms to identify each other. If they seem to be getting along without fighting, after a few minutes, provide the two of them a “gerbil bonding” experience: give them a scrap of cardboard to gnaw on (nothing they can hide in), put a big handful of food and treats to eat in the center of the tank, or provide a pile of unscented toilet tissue to burrow in and hopefully nest in together. A toilet tissue roll that has been unraveled provides a coil for gerbils to crawl through and get their smell from their scent gland on one another. (Make sure the tube doesnít provide a hiding spot.)

Another tip for the almost-but-not-quite-there introduction is to place the gerbilsí tank in the middle of a busy house. With dogs barking, children yelling, and people noises, two gerbils get distracted from each other and also have a natural tendency to stick together against the tough old outside world.

Sometimes gerbils get along in the initial minutes of the introduction and then start to squabble or are not quite comfortable with each other. If theyíre nervous, their motions may appear jerky rather than fluid. They may box with their front paws or groom too aggressively, or one may squeak or show other signs of uneasiness.

In this case, determine which one is the more dominant or aggressive gerbil. The more submissive one is likely to remain in one corner with the more dominant one roaming the tank. Put the more dominant gerbil in a “timeout”. A timeout means placing him in a smaller escape proof cage, located inside the tank near the corner where the other gerbil is settled. The gerbils should be able to smell, but not harm, one another. A timeout can be 15-30 minutes. Give the gerbil as many timeouts as needed.

Good signs are when gerbils that take only a mild interest in or ignore each other, seem relaxed, and are engaged in doing their normal gerbil stuff; or when one gerbil, especially the larger one, lays flat (making himself look smaller), closes his eyes, and lets the other groom him. Gerbils may at first settle in diagonally opposite corners of the tank, then move to separate corners on the short side of the tank, and finally move into the sitting side-by-side in the same corner. Once the gerbils are grooming one another and sleeping in the same nest, keep checking on them, though it is pretty certain they are friends. Congratulate yourself on completing a successful gerbil introduction!

Tricky Gerbil Introductions

Sometimes two gerbils get off to a rocky start. Immediately after they are introduced, one gerbil may chase the other around the tank with the gerbil in pursuit leaping into the air to escape. Or one may puff his fur and show his side to the other (in an attempt to look bigger and tougher) and push up against the other. Then they may get into “ball fight”. (Try to separate the two before it escalates into fighting). A ball fight is like the cartoon fights in which two characters roll around in a ball with dust flying out. Wearing a thick glove, immediately break up the fight by taking one gerbil out.

Once again, it is important never to put your bare hand into a gerbil fight! While fighting, a gerbilís automatic reaction is to chomp on anything that touches it, and you will get badly bitten. If you are not wearing a glove, use anything you can grab (the water bottle, a shoe, etc.) to shove between the two gerbils and flip one off the other.

These gerbils are not ready to be introduced and need to spend another week in the split cage. When you re-introduce them, use a neutral tank Ė one that has been washed out and has clean litter so it smells like neither of the gerbils.

Sometimes it happens that two gerbils just donít like each other. But give them at least two to three weeks more in the split cage before coming to this conclusion. If you are convinced that this match up is not going to work out, you could try one or both with a different partner. Note that some older gerbils, especially those who have been on their own for a while or older females, seem to prefer living alone.

If you have a gerbil that cannot be introduced to another gerbil, give the lone gerbil extra attention, lots of cardboard, a wheel, and the opportunity to get out and run. He may be comforted by living near, if not with, other (same sexed) gerbils. It is not recommended to keep a tank of boy and girl gerbils in close proximity, as this may lead to bickering in one or both tanks.

Good luck! And remember: Happiness is a successful gerbil introduction!


Quick Links: Genetics Tutoring

Compiled from the AGS Discussion List

Genetics Tutorial

http://www.petgerbils.com/ (click Coat Colors)

Gerbil colors and pictures:


Genetics and availability of colors:


_________________THE PUP PAGES___________________

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

Dear Ruth,

       Can you train your gerbils? And, I need help on breeding them. They did courtship like......a little more than a few days ago and I'm worried she's not getting pregnant. Also I've noticed that one of my females, Chip, has really scruffy hair.

Thank you,

Dear Trina,

You can sort of train your gerbils, depending on the trick. You could probably teach them to beg because it's natural. And don't worry, I expect your gerbil will get pregnant. They might not show until right before they give birth. But we had a gerbil who should have had pups and never did.

Chip might just need a bath. You can get Chinchilla Bath Sand at the pet store. Then she can roll around in it and get clean. Also, she might be getting groomed a lot which is probably OK.

Good luck,

Dear Ruth,

Which water bottle is best,4 oz. ,5 oz. or 8 oz.? How much food should I give my gerbils? I have purchesed a Run Around Mesh Wheel that is 5 1/3 inches in diameter. Do you think the wheel is OK for my gerbils?

Thank you,

Dear Isabella,

All the bottles are good. The 5 oz is good because you need to refill it more often so the gerbil's water is fresher. The bad thing is if you forget to refill it the gerbils won't have water.

The 5 oz is good because it holds more than the 4 oz so the water lasts longer. The bad thing is that it doesn't take long to go empty so you have to remember to refill it a lot.

The 8 oz is good because it holds a lot of water so you don't have to refill it for a while. The bad thing is because it holds so much you can forget to fill it so then the water isn't fresh.

Either one is good, but each have their pros and cons.

As for food, if you have two gerbils, 1/2 a tablespoon twice a day is good. If you have 3, 3/4 of a tablespoon twice a day is good.

That wheel will probably work. It should be big enough so your gerbils have some room to run. Also, there should not be slats that are big enough for a gerbil's tail to get caught in. It can snap off! When your gerbils are full-grown you might need a bigger wheel, like 8".

Good luck,

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


         by Anthony

   Guest Artists and Authors

Mrs. Wait’s class at Davis Elementary School are this issue’s guest artists and authors. They are drawing and writing about their two classroom gerbils, Seed and Cheerio.

Art by Chloe

Art by Amy

What We Like About Our Gerbils

I like the noise when they chew.
I like that they are so soft.
Be careful because they can bite.
They are really, really cute.
I like to watch them twist around and walk.
They do loop-de-loops with their tubes.
I love to watch them snuggle together.
I like to see what funny things they will do today.
They are cute, and their fur is very soft.
I love our gerbils Cheerio and Seed.
They can chew on tubes all day.

Art by Olivia Art by Katie


Getting to Know Each Other:

Tag with ribbon
Tag with his ribbon
(photo by Donna Anastasi)
Black Wolf Clan (MO)

Specializing in mottleds, colorpoints, and schimmels

by Jo Kelley, Show Points Secretary

When I was in high school, my biology teacher had a breeding pair of agoutis (the only color available in southern Texas at the time). The agoutis had babies during my class. I watched them grow up and took home two brothers, Coors and Spudz (it was the '80s). Ever since then, I have been hooked on gerbils! Through the years, wherever I've lived, I've always had a pair of gerbils as pets.

Black Wolf Clan (BWC) began in Kentucky in 1998 with a black female named TJ and her agouti mate Cinnamon. They produced a litter of five agoutis and one black female named Jedi. BWC was named after TJ and Jedi's beautiful black coloring (they were my first black gerbils); the “Wolf” part of BWC came from my lifelong fascination with wolves. “Clan” is from the origins of the AGS, when many early kennels were called clans.

After TJ's line was retired, I found Piccasso, the foundation sire of my mottled lines, in a pet store in Ohio. He was so light grey that I thought he was a dove until he darkened up after a few months. Piccasso was mated to a colorpoint slate from Texas. Her lines traced back to the beginnings of the AGS itself. Spotted offspring from this pair were mated with solid partners for several generations before I realized that the spotting on the offspring was actually increasing, which was highly unusual. In most litters, offspring will carry the same amount or less than the parents display. But in this case, all spotted offspring traced directly back to Piccasso.

RobinWithin two generations, BWC's breeding pairs were producing mottled and even heavily mottled mups, mostly in black or siamese. This was especially true of the offspring of Piccasso's black pied daughter Clymenastra and her solid siamese partner Agammemon. BWC's mottled breeding program surged forward with four offspring of Clymenestra x Agammemon (Picasso's grandchildren): Illusion (a mottled black female) and Indy (a siamese spot male), who were full siblings from the same litter, plus Jewel (a mottled siamese female) and Trey (a mottled siamese male), who were also full siblings but from a different litter than Illusion and Indy.

All mottled, extreme mottled, and high white descendents to date (up to eight generations in some cases) trace directly back to these four gerbils. Both Indy's and Illusion's lines have proven very successful in many categories, from the show ring to other members' breeding programs to producing friendly, colorful offspring for any gerbil fancier, regardless of whether they are looking for a pet or a show/breeding prospect.

TagIn fact, just this past May, Tag, a mottled burmese male and a great-grandson of Illusion, was crowned Best In Show at the 2006 NE Show. Tag also became only the fifth gerbil in AGS history to reach Championship status (with eight or more show points) and is now retired from showing. Even more remarkable, Tag's son Robin (a mottled black male) also won a Best In Show the year before at the 2005 Midwest Show. Just last month, in October 2006, Robin won his mottled clas and thus retired from showing with enough points to make him the sixth Champion in AGS history.

BWC now resides in southern Missouri, where I continue to breed for healthy, friendly, show-quality gerbils who express a variety of spotting patterns, especially in the darker selfs and colorpoints. BWC also produces schimmels, red-eyed schimmels, honey creams, all colorpoint varieties, and the occasional DPP (dark-pied patch). (As an interesting sidenote, to date, at least six DPPs have shown up through Piccasso's line, as well as in other BWC lines that are unrelated to Piccasso.)

For more information about BWC gerbils, DPP and other unusual markings, and mottling patterns, please visit the Black Wolf Clan Web site. You'll also find an ongoing generational photographic history of Piccasso's lines.

My own involvement with the AGS has led me to serve on the Board and to serve as the official registrar/recorder for all gerbil registrations, show registrations, and show points, for both gerbil and owner. BWC gerbils now reside all over the US, from New Hampshire to Florida, Oregon to Arizona and Texas, and many states in between. It's been quite an adventure. I wonder if my old biology teacher will ever realize what a spark he ignited?


___________________FUN & INSPIRATIONAL________________________

How I Got Into Gerbils

by Haley Wendell, Kismet's Corner Kennels

There once was a girl who had a boyfriend named Tom. Tom took her to his friend's house every weekend so they could play Dungeons and Dragons and be big geeks. The house had a secret, though. It held more than just geeky boys with too much imagination. It also housed many dirty dishes that she thought were there from the '70s, a toilet that made you consider going down the street to the gas station instead, a cat named Murphy and many, many gerbils.

These gerbils were kept in wire cages piled on top of dirty laundry and in 10-gallon fish tanks with a few generations of them in mixed-sex groups because he was under the impression that brothers and sisters would not mate. The girl was horrified by the smell and condition of these “dirty rodents” and would avoid at all costs going into the room where they lived. (And she would hold her need to use the facilities until she got home!)

One day, she moved into a new apartment with Tom, and, having been an animal lover and owner her whole life, she found herself without any pets! After talking things over with Tom, she started to look for the perfect pet that would fit within the constraints of their small living space. While searching the Web and thinking up new and interesting reasons to tell Tom that they couldn't get a ferret (she is secretly afraid of them!!), she found a great little Web page by the name of ABC Gerbils. She was both amused that people actually bred gerbils and horrified after realizing that the little animals piled in Tom's friend's house were in fact being grossly neglected and mistreated. After talking to Tom and his friend, they decided to help him a little by taking a pair to their own home as pets. They also brought him some nice Carefresh bedding to help him clean some cages, and they took a late night trip to Walmart to purchase additional tanks and supplies to separate some of the groups so that the gerbils had more room.

Badger and Gaz came to live with the girl and Tom. Badger was a lovely black and white little girl with a feisty personality, and Gaz was a hyper spotted dove. They were given a large wire rat cage to live in as the girl felt so bad about the conditions they had come from.

Every day was a new adventure for the gerbils, Tom, and the girl, until one day when she went to clean the cage for the first time, and Badger needed coaxing out of the nest, which was very unlike her. Because this was the first cage cleaning, the girl thought it was just nerves. She took the girls out and placed them in a cleaning carrier and brought the cage to the kitchen trash bucket. She started by pulling the toys and treats out and was ready to dump the bedding in the rubbish when something made her put her hand in the nest to make sure that there were no hidden toys. No toys were found, but there was a very startling surprise which made her leap back and squeak. At first, she thought the little pink wriggling things in there were worms. Then common sense came back, and she realized that she was now a grandma!

Badger and Gaz were both ladies, but as Tom's friend was badly misinformed of the birds-and-bees nature of rodents, Badger had been “with gerbil” when the girl had picked her out and brought her home! After frantically emailing Donna from ABC Gerbils and being reassured that although they were inbred, they would not have six heads and had a chance of living a normal gerbilly life, she was able to settle down and enjoy the experience of raising them.

Shortlly after that, the rescues started to trickle in. A few years later and 40 or so gerbils later, they had a small breeding program and had done several much-needed rescues, rehabilitations, and emergency vet visits. They'd also seen some very successful rehomes and adoptions by well-informed and responsible people. Tom and the girl and the herd of critters couldn't be happier.

It just goes to show you that the right information and help from a compassionate person (like Donna!!) can change your outlook on an animal. :)

. . .Now if only Tom would get over his fear of rats!!!


Top 10 Ways To Sneak A New Gerbil Into The House

compiled from the AGS List by Diane Nott,  Heavenly Heart Gerbilry

  1. 10.  Strategically rearrange the tanks onto shelves so it looks like there aren't so many.

  2.  9.  “Honey, we've had Blackie for six months now. Remember? Good old Blackie.”

  3.  8.  “Oh, him? That's Hollis' brother. You fed him just last week, remember? Oh, and honey, remember that great fishing pole you wanted so much? It's on sale, and your birthday's coming, so I thought I'd. . .”

  4.  7.  “You mean that you don't remember the black one from Buttercup's litter?? Really? That's odd.” =-P

  5.  6.  Add extra cardboard to all of the tanks so that you can't see how many inhabitants there actually are. :)

  6.  5.  Have one more tank set up empty, and occasionally stir up the litter. Then when you sneak in another one, it won't be noticed because the tank was there all along. Hee hee.

  7.  4.  Place the new tank in a room that everyone avoids, such as the room with the ironing board or the room that holds tax paperwork.

  8.  3.  “That's not a gerbil. It's an Ethiopian hamster. You never said no more hamsters!”

  9.  2.  “It's either this or another baby.”

  10.  1.  “Honey, I bought you a present: a new baby gerbil!”

Gerbil Color Puzzle

by Libby and Ruth Hanna,  Shawsheen River Gerbils

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