Strategies for Class Assessment
Remember — No gerbil is perfect, and members should be encouraged to participate! Your job is to find the best animal that day. Potential is important, but what you hold in your hand is what you are judging. Think about who you want to send to the Best in Show table and how competitive your winner(s) will be there.
Start by reviewing the classes looking carefully for gerbils that are mismarked, misplaced, or would do better in a different class.
- Age: Take note of any ages that are listed; seniors and pups may be mixed in with the adult classes.
- Patterns: Carefully examine the spots, pieds, and mottleds. Some marked Dark Eyed Honey (DEH) and Nutmegs may show better as honey creams (HC). Also, all spotted, pied, and mottled gerbils have clear nails; gerbils with colored toenails are most likely in the wrong class.
- Color points: Non-color point colors like Gray Agouti look similar to colorpoint colors like a color point agouti, and may need to be moved to the correct class. Some lighter color point nutmegs (CPN) will show better as Silver Points.
- Other: Owners tend to enter any marked DEH or Nutmeg as a HC even if they are not sufficiently mottled. Some Silver Points are too dark for the standard and may show better as a CPN.
Guidelines for Splitting Classes
A class may be split into sub-classes of 5-7 gerbils each. Classes should be split as evenly as possible:
- 5-9 gerbils will have only one class
- 10-14 gerbils will have 2 sub-classes
- 15-19 gerbils will have 3 sub-classes, and so on.
Split the classes up by colors when possible. Comparing like colored gerbils to each other is easier. Examples of sub-class divisions:
- Ticked and non-ticked.
- Black eyed and pink eyed.
- One-color (e.g., black) and any-other -color (AOC).
- Male and female.
In age specific classes like pups and seniors splitting the class by age may make it easier to compare the gerbils to each other, since the allowances made for age can be tiered.
Gender balance: If both genders are well represented in a class, splitting by color may allow more opportunity for gerbils to place higher because more ribbons may be awarded (ie, two firsts and two best opposite sex). In other cases, a male-female split will work best because strong females will not be left out of the ribbons in favor of their bigger, flashier brethren. You are encouraged to split your class to achieve the best results and facilitate the flow of excellent animals to the Best in Show table.
Remember that decisions made at this point can impact judging assignments and minimum class sizes. The Show Secretary can usually locate an additional animal if one is needed to fill out a class after class splits and corrections have been made.
Try to sort them so that the subclasses are relatively equal in animal quality.
Judging the Class
Begin a class by reviewing each entry for major criteria and flaws:
- Body type: wrong body type for sex; neck dip or hunched back
- Color: not matching any standard; faded, stained or mis-colored; excessive white
- Abnormalities: tumors; fixed wrists; scars; broken teeth; missing toes
Make a tentative sorting of animals likely to place and likely not to place.
It may be helpful to you to begin by scoring an animal on the low or high end first.
While handling each animal, observe: the animal’s interest and willingness to come out, and how it behaves while handled; the gerbil walking: watch for limps, unusual movements & tail carriage; smaller details such as toenail and whisker color, eye and ear color and shape.
- Flip the gerbil over to check teeth, belly color, staining, and white on lips & neck.
- If you feel anything unusual, examine it thoroughly (e.g, wounds, scabs, tumors)
Make notes or dictate to a clerk as you work.
Use the checklist to capture your frank comments and scoring notations for your own use. This form goes to the Show Secretary, not the exhibitor.
Use the Judging Card to give brief comments on each gerbil. Concentrate on what is good rather than being overly critical but be honest about serious flaws. “Good type, good color, would do better if there was less staining on belly. Tapered tail.”
If a gerbil is excused or disqualified, note it on the card.
You may wish to consider certain factors:
- Many male gerbils may not have their adult mass/bulk until they are 10 – 14 months old. If two gerbils are otherwise equally matched, an immature build is a less serious fault in an adolescent.
- Allowances for age are made in the pup class (3 months of age or younger) and in the senior class (2 ½ years or older).
- Molting is not a fault in the pup class. Fading, stray white hairs, and age related health concerns are not as serious a fault for a senior.
Best in Show Selection
The Best in Show and Best Opposite Sex animals are selected from among the winners of all classes. In the words of one judge, a Best in Show animal should look like it “jumped out of the standards book”. It must be in peak condition and possess ideal conformation, striking color and winning temperament.
To choose Best in Show (BIS) and Best Opposite Sex (BOS), the First Place and Best Opposite winners from all classes are reviewed and ranked against the others of the same gender. Unless otherwise instructed, the scoring is:
1 = First Choice, worth 3 points
2 = Second Choice, worth 2 points
3 = Third Choice, worth 1 point
Plus = not in top three, but acceptable to the judge if selected by others
Minus = not acceptable to the judge for BIS or BOS
The Head Judge may decide to count a “plus” as ½ point and a minus as – ½ point, or may just tally the pluses and minuses. Judges must give a “plus” to any animals he or she owns; no other ranking is allowed.
If there is a runaway winner for either gender, the Head Judge may announce the result and suggest that animal be chosen. More often, there are a small number of animals who receive the bulk of the points but no clear winner. If so, there will usually be some discussion and then a second ballot will be cast to choose within this subset. Judges who have an animal in the running at this point should excuse themselves.
The judges who remain part of the decision will generally discuss until consensus is achieved. This is generally not a difficult process. In the case of a true stalemate, the Head Judge will make a final decision.
Once one male and one female gerbil have been selected, a final discussion between the remaining judges settles which will be Best in Show and which Best Opposite.