About Gerbil Shows
Each year, the American Gerbil Society holds several gerbil shows. A gerbil show is similar to a dog or cat show, except that it is for gerbils. American Gerbil Society-trained judges evaluate gerbils for conformation, body type, build, overall health, color, and temperament. Gerbils compete for ribbons, with Best In Show and Best Of Opposite Sex winners awarded at each show.
Beginning in 2020, the show cycle will consist of the following five shows annually:
- The Southeast/Southwest Show offers gerbil lovers a chance to enjoy the sun in January.
- The New England Show takes place in March. This year’s show will be in Tewsksbury, MA.
- The Midatlantic Show takes place sometime from late May through early June. This show is currently held in Harrisburg, PA.
- The online Virtual Show is held in late summer where competitors submit photos of gerbils which are judged against the standards. This online show attracts world-wide participation. Gerbils in the virtual show do not, however, earn points toward championships.
- The Midwest Show is an autumn tradition, taking place between late September and early November. The locations vary widely across this vast region. Past shows have taken place in Springfield, MO, Tulsa, OK and both Lincoln and Omaha, NE. Most recently the show has found its home near Cleveland, OH.
What To Expect When You Come To A Gerbil Show
The article below covers, in-depth, the things that you should do to prepare for a gerbil show and what to do once you arrive at the show site.
Visit the Show Page
First, you’ll want to visit the Web page for the show you’ll attend. This is where you’ll find the show schedule, quarantine deadlines, exhibition entry form link, and more. There are four shows a year plus the online Virtual Show. You can get to the show web pages via the main menu under Gerbil Shows.
Don’t forget to make your reservation at the hotel early, because we usually get a special rate and a block of rooms for the AGS. By taking advantage of reserving a room early, you can ensure that you get the best price on your room and that you will stay close to other AGS members. In addition, sometimes, you must be in the AGS block of rooms in order to have caged gerbils in your room.
Gerbil Registrations & Table Reservations
If you plan to show any of your gerbils, you’ll need to obtain an AGS ID number for each gerbil you want to register. To register a gerbil with the AGS, click on the AGS Gerbil Registration link listed on the individual show page.
Once you hear back from the AGS Registrar with your gerbil’s registration number, you can submit an Exhibition Entry form. To do this, go to the page of the show you’ll attend and click the Exhibition Entry Form link.
Follow the instructions on the page to enter your gerbil(s) in the show. If you are showing gerbils, you are required to have some table space for them and your equipment. You may also use your table space to display any non-show gerbils and to sell any gerbil-related items. You can reserve a table on the same page where you enter your gerbils.
As soon as you decide to try showing your gerbils, ýou must understand the quarantine process and how it obligates you. Use the Health link at the top of the show pages. When you fill out your exhibition entry form, you’ll be asked to confirm that you have followed the required quarantine and that you will comply with whatever decisions the health inspectors at the show make.
The Health Info page also provides detailed information about quarantining your pets. The AGS takes pre-show quarantine periods very seriously, because there are 75-100 gerbils at each show, and a single sick (or mite-infested) gerbil can spread an infection to the other gerbils at the show. Then those gerbils can carry disease back to their home kennels.
Proper quarantine procedures also help to protect members of the general public, many of whom are children. Most AGS shows have a good turnout of non-AGS members, many of whom adopt gerbils as family pets. We firmly believe that the AGS has a responsibility to ensure the well-being of all pets that we place with the general public, and one of the ways we can do this is by limiting the risk that our gerbils will be exposed to illness or mites prior to a gerbil show.
Check the Health Info page for the date on which you must begin quarantine, and make sure that you do not bring any new gerbils, rodents, birds, reptiles, or exotic pets into your kennel. This also means that you may not pick up any new animals on your way to the show. That would violate quarantine as well. The only exception is that two or more quarantined kennels can be joined for the purposes of traveling to the show. Once joined, all animals and equipment must go through quarantine together, and if one fails, the health inspectors may fail the entire combined group. So be careful who you travel with, look carefully at what they are bringing, and ask questions!
In addition to the requirement of not introducing new animals during quarantine, if you have any unexplained illnesses or deaths in your kennel once the quarantine period begins, you must contact an AGS health inspector immediately. In most cases, you will not be able to bring or send gerbils (or other animals) to the show. You are still welcome to attend the show, see all of the gerbils, and meet other AGS members. However, we may ask that you leave your animals at home to ensure that there is no risk to gerbils at the show.
Before You Leave for the Show
In addition to anything you do to ensure that your gerbils are in the best shape and well-prepared for judging, you’ll also need to do a few other things before you leave for the show.
First, plan for the number of gerbils you’ll bring. In a 10-gallon tank, the AGS only allows up to four adults OR one adult breeding pair with one or two litters OR 10 pups. If your tanks are overcrowded, your gerbils will NOT be allowed past health inspection.
Next, make sure you clean any tanks or carriers before you leave home. The health inspectors can (and will) deny entry to gerbils with dirty or smelly tanks. Next, you must attach a label to each of your tanks/carriers that will be on your table at the show. Each tank should have a label with the name of your kennel, your name, the status of the gerbils (for show, for adoption, companion of show animal, etc.). An example of a tag is below:
River City Gerbils Kennel (Sarah Skutt)
Show Gerbil (not for sale)
& Companion Of Show Gerbil (not for sale)
Mottled Burmese Male
Mottled Black Male
Remember to bring an appropriate number of carriers. Remember that each show gerbil must be alone in carrier. You must use the standard size of carrier which is a Medium-size Kritter Keeper (8 inches high x 12 inches wide x 8 inches deep). It is essential to maintain the judges’ objectivity that carriers be as indistinguishable as possible. Do not add markings to your carrier that would indicate ownership. Use white carefresh or a similar white paper-based bedding.
Please make appropriate plans for travel. First, remember that water bottles will wobble and leak in the car, so you will want to flip the water bottles upside down in the water bottle guards or remove them from the tanks. To prevent your gerbils from becoming dehydrated, either make frequent stops to flip the water bottles and give your gerbils a chance to drink, or bring along some fruits or vegetables to give your gerbils as a source of moisture. Common choices include apple slices, grapes, and baby carrots.
To keep your gerbils from overheating while traveling in your vehicle, you should also bring some blankets or towels to drape over any tanks that receive direct sunlight through the windows.
If you will drive for more than one day, keep in mind that pets may not be allowed in hotel rooms along the way. If the weather will not allow you to keep your gerbils in the car overnight, you should research which hotels will allow pets. For example, Motel 6 and LaQuinta are pet-friendly chains, and many other hotels will allow pets if you pay a pet deposit.
If you plan to sell gerbils at the show, please bring extra Kritter Keepers and bedding that you can sell to any adopters. This way, if someone did not plan to adopt gerbils at the show, you can still provide safe housing and a way home. You may also want to provide a few baby carrots, grapes, or apple slices to any adopters who traveled from out of town so that your gerbils are well hydrated during the drive home. Also, if you think you may adopt gerbils at the show, bring extra carriers, bedding, and food, so you’re prepared. And one more reason to bring extra Kritter Keepers: at most shows, there is a need to “draft” another gerbil or two to fill out classes. Bring an extra Kritter Keeper or two in case one of your companion gerbils gets a chance to strut his or her stuff at the show!
At the Show
When you arrive at the show, the first thing you should do is ask where the health inspection area is. Take all of your gerbils and supplies (as well as any other gerbils and supplies that came in the same vehicle as you) to the health-inspection area. Someone should be able to tell you where to put your tanks and supplies.
You are not be allowed in the room during the health inspection. If the inspections are taking place in an open or common area, please step away while yours are being inspected. During the inspection, the volunteers will check all of your gerbils and supplies carefully for any sign of mites, illness, injuries, runny noses, or other potential problems.
Once the inspectors have finished inspecting all of the gerbils and supplies that traveled with you, they’ll let you know the results of the inspection. Please remember that any decisions the health inspectors make are final, and that you will need to abide by those decisions.
After your gerbils have cleared health inspection, visit the on-site show secretary. He or she will provide you with show labels for the carriers of any gerbils that you’ve registered for the show. If you still owe money for any show registrations or to make your membership current, you’ll need to pay the show secretary before you receive your show labels.
After health inspection, you can set up your gerbils and any other items on your table in the show room. Please keep your table and the surrounding area as organized and tidy as possible. Remember that your table will be a display at the show.
The Friday night of the show is your time to talk with other AGS members, set up your table, and take care of any loose ends. At the end of the night, the showroom will be locked.
The Saturday morning of the show, more AGS members will arrive and send their gerbils through health inspection. When it’s time for the show to start, make sure you have taped the corresponding labels to your show carriers. You can place a small bit of food in the carrier with each gerbil. Your gerbils should be on white paper bedding with a baby carrot as a water source. Please do not make the bedding too deep, so the judges can see your gerbil easily through the sides of the container.
There will be an announcement when you can take your gerbils into the judging room. Place your gerbils on the appropriate tables. (Tables are labeled by class.) Judging will take the remainder of the afternoon, so just relax and enjoy the activities in the showroom. When the judging is complete, the judges will hold an awards ceremony to announce the winners.
After the Show
When the show is over, you can take your gerbils to your hotel room. You’ll need to clean up your area in the show room. Generally the members eat dinner together after the show as well. Sometimes, the banquet is at a local restaurant, and sometimes the banquet is in the same facility as the show. This is a great time to relax after a long weekend and spend more time getting to know fellow AGS members.