Acorn, Almond & Cashew

July 2015

Acorn, Almond and Cashew

Acorn, Almond and Cashew

Boys, boys, boys

If you have been following the saga of our new baby gerbils you will already know how we ended up with these three little cuties. At the moment they are happily living with their sisters, and will for a week or two yet. They are gorgeous, healthy little gerbils, just like their sisters, and we are already seeing their personalities shine through. Like the girls they have no fear of coming out to play and running around, though catching six gerbils is a little tricky.

The boys mirror their sisters colouring in that Acorn and Almond are both Agouti and Cashew is a grey agouti. While they are all together it makes identifying them a bit of a challenge, but we are coping as best we can.

The boys new home

My gorgeous little guys can’t stay with their sisters forever, so I’ve ordered them their very own Savic Habitat XL, just like the one they are in now. To lessen the shock of being separated from the girls (again) the cage is going to be set up exactly the same. Once the guys are all settled I will be able to rearrange things at clean out time, make it more exciting for them.

The gerbils are still happy together right now, but it is good to be ready for when we need to separate the boys, we don’t want to risk leaving it too late. We are loving having the six gerbils together, watching them grow and learn from each other. After only a few days in a Habitat XL, all the gerbils have learned to come in and out by themselves, which is fantastic. It didn’t take a lot to train them as Olive (one of the girls) is very bright and curious and she figured out how to use the ladder straight away, followed by Acorn, then the others all cottoned on. Now they all come and go on their own. Derek and I still take the time to pick everyone out at playtime, it is important to keep strengthening our bond with them, but once they are all out they are free to come and go as they please – and they do.

Separation anxiety

Our baby gerbil, Almond in his new homeNot the gerbils, me! The boys are now happily installed in their new home and they are loving it, me not so much. I knew it had to happen but I miss the chaos of six gerbils in one tank. On the bright side I will have double the gerbily playtime, as they will need to be kept completely separate from now on. It was hard work keeping track of everyone when the gerbils were out, especially when they started coming and going of their own accord.

The boys now live in our dining room alongside our three rather lazy rats. They all seem very happy together, and we have already had the boys out to play. They were a little unsure of their new surroundings at first, but they soon got their confidence up. The dining room is much more exciting than the landing they were used to, so they had lots to explore. We kept their first run short, so they could all go in with a happy memory of their new experience and will look forward to coming out again. Acorn and Cashew put themselves away happily, but little Almond got a bit stressed. Amazingly Cashew actually came back out to get him! It was incredible to see, and once Almond was safely in Cashew followed him up the ramp.

Gerbils are only tiny creatures, and we have known many over the years, but they will never cease to amaze me what bright and loving little critters they are.

In the rabbit cage!

Our little bunny Fern lives in the garden during the day, but at night we bring her in where she is nice and safe. This means that she has an indoor bunny cage that is empty during the day. Once a fortnight we have to leave our bunny’s indoor home in our dinning room, which is where Acorn, Almond and Cashew play. I can’t lift it on my own, so when I have my little gerbily boys out to play it stays on the floor. The first few times they encountered the cage the boys just ignored it, sometimes running smack into it as they went charging around but mostly they went around it. Then, as their confidence and agility grew, they discovered what was inside and now there is no stopping them. So, every other week the gerbily boys come out of their cage and play in our indoor rabbit cage.

I’m not sure what Fern thinks of what has been going on in her cage during her absence, but I am pretty sure she knows what’s been going on. Bunny’s know everything!

Little visitors

I’ve been suffering from a cold these past few days and I wanted nothing more than a quiet sit down in the dining room and to play on my 3DS. With my three little boys living in the dining room there is not such thing as a quiet sit down, and as soon as they spotted me they wanted out! As I can’t refuse my boys anything (or their sisters for that matter) I popped their cage on the floor and left them to their own devices while I resumed my quiet sit down.

Normally when I let my gerbils out I sit on the floor with them, which helps us get to know each other and makes me a large climbing frame for the gerbils to play on. Not ones to be put off by me not feeling well, my gerbils decided they would just visit me in my chair (and stop me playing my game!)

Watching you watching me!

Our cat Inkie loves to watch the gerbils (no surprise there), but all our gerbils, both the boys and girls, love to watch Inkie too. Our boys live in our dining room, which has patio doors, so when they are out playing, Inkie can sit and watch them, it also means the boys can watch Inkie too. Many times they will climb up on the frame, right to the glass and look at Inkie, which drives her bonkers. She will reach out and touch the glass and press her little face right to it, even though she will never get her paws on the boys it is an endless game they all seem to enjoy.

Cashew sitting on my knee watching Inkie

Cashew sitting on my knee watching Inkie

A terrible accident

I am very relieved to say everyone is okay now, but our sweet little gerbil, Almond, had a terrible accident on Saturday. The whole experience still makes me feel ill, so forgive me if I waffle.

Almond after his accident

Almond after his accident

Saturday afternoon we were rounding the boys up after their run, and Derek was feeding Cashew and Almond sunflowers in their cage, while we waited for Acorn to turn up, when Derek realised Almond’s tail had become degloved. Degloving is where the furry part of a gerbils tail has been stripped off, leaving the exposed bone of the tail. As if that wasn’t terrible enough we realised Acorn was running around with Almonds missing tail!

It was a dreadful experience, poor Almond must have been in terrible pain and shock, but we had to round Acorn up, to ensure his safety before we could even think about Almond. Once we had got Acorn back in his home he started harassing Almond, wanting to play with his injured tail and generally being a nuisance. Because of Acorn and because we needed to tend to Almond’s wound we had to separate our little guy. There is a risk of infection with such a serious injury and we had to ensure Almond was kept stress free and safe from further injury. Although little confused about his missing brothers and his new home, Almond was incredibly brave about the whole ordeal, even enjoying the excessive amounts of sunflowers we gave him.

After only 24 hours of separation we were able to reintroduce Almond back to his brothers. The exposed bone of his tail was completely gone and his stump looked as good as healed, because Sunday is clean out day for our gerbils, he had a nice clean cage to return to. The boys were all happy to be reunited, and played together while I cleaned their tank out. The boys are always very good about going back in once they’ve had their playtime, so they all went in their cage as soon as I finished putting their home back together. Derek and I stayed near the boys, just to make sure they were still happy together and no one was going to harass Almond and mess with his tail. We needn’t have worried, after a bit of cardboard chomping the boys went back to bed and we didn’t see or hear from them again until tea time when they all got up for a bit of bread.

As for what happened, we have no idea. Derek and I have never picked our gerbils up by their tails, a common cause of degloving. We have wracked our brains about what happened that afternoon. It is complicated by the fact we had just introduced a new cage to the room, it was empty at the time and we’d been letting the gerbils play in it. On top of that I had almost sat on Cashew, he’d run underneath me as I was adjusting my position on the floor. I’d not put my weight on him, but it was a reminder of how careful you have to be when the gerbils are out. And finally we’d moved some furniture with the arrival of Max, our Degu, a unit we keep his cage on had been pushed closer to the wall and we’re not sure if Almond ’s tail could have been trapped there. As Acorn had run off with Almond’s tail we have no idea where his accident happened, needless to say we feel dreadful. We have gone over the room for anything we could have missed. The new cage is for Max and once he’s in it, we’ll block it off from the gerbils anyway, it will also replace the furniture we’d moved, so if it was either of those our gerbils will be safe in the future.

Acorn (left) and Almond reunited after the accident

Acorn (left) and Almond reunited after the accident

We are still spoiling Almond and he is very happy to be back with his brothers. As degloving is like a safety feature for gerbils, if a predator grabs them by their tails in the wild they can get away. The wound will heal quickly with the gerbils often chewing off the exposed bone and getting on with life with a short tail. We are very bonded with our gerbils and they are happy healthy little creatures, which I am sure helped with Almond’s quick recovery. While we did not take almond to a vet, we kept a very close eye on him, for excessive bleeding from his tail and changes in his demeanour. If your gerbil should ever suffer from a degloving and you are in anyway concerned you should contact a vet immediately. Almond’s wound did not bleed and he was active and alert immediately after his accident and happy to be handled, heck we didn’t even know it had happened until Derek saw his tail.

It will take us a long time to get over the shock of what happened, and we will have to live with the terrible guilt of knowing we let our little guy down. Fortunately Almond does not seem bothered by his short tail or his terrible ordeal, and he is still his bright and chirpy self.

Clean out time fun

Like every good gerbily parent Derek and I clean our gerbils cage every week. As well as keeping their home nice and tidy, it gives us an opportunity to move things around and keep an eye on the wear and tear on their toys. They boys love to play, just like their sisters, but they are always keen to go in after clean out day and see what’s changed and give their gerbily approval.

Almond's missing teeth

We are not entirely sure what has happened to our little Almond, but his top teeth are missing! Thursday night is Degu clean out day, so we have our tea on the floor with the gerbils before cleaning out the degu cages. The little gerbils love to help us eat our sandwiches and last night was no exception. We noticed Almond was looking a little scruffy, but he seemed happy and ate plenty of Derek’s sandwich, before going back to bed.

The next day I had the boys out and Almond still wasn’t looking quite his usual self. I gave him some oats, just to see if he wanted them, and at first he seemed keen, but then I realised he was just dropping them. Oats are like sunflowers with gerbils and very few can resist them, so I knew something was wrong. I picked our little guy up and checked his mouth, only to see he was missing his two top teeth!

When this had happened I didn’t know as he had shown no other signs of injury. I let them out everyday, and as they’re getting on a bit they don’t always venture out or play for very long. It’s been fairly warm and apart from Almond looking a bit scruffy, I hadn’t seen anything to cause concern. He’d been running around and squabbling with his brothers like every other day.

Still, there was not denying his missing teeth, and my first priority was getting food in him, the poor little guy must have been so hungry. Bread is a favourite of our gerbils and fortunately it is very easy for a toothless gerbil to eat. We have a bread machine at home and bake a fresh loaf everyday, so there will be plenty for Almond to eat.

We are hopeful that Almond just took a silly tumble and lost his teeth that way, rather than a physical problem. Time will tell, but fingers crossed they will grow back soon and our little guy can go back to chomping cardboard and eating his gerbil food.

Yummies for Almond

There is no sign of Almond’s teeth regrowing, so we have added baby food to his diet. It is important Almond get all the nutrients he can, and seeing as baby food is yummy and helps little humans and rats, grown big and strong, it should help our little gerbil get better. He has taken to it very well, but then so have his brothers! We are having to battle Acorn and Cashew as, while we love them dearly, they will turn into giant monster, overweight gerbils if we let them stuff themselves on baby food.

Emergency vet visit!

Our gerbil, Almond eating bread next to half a loaf of breadWe had to rush poor little Almond to the vet this afternoon. He was out playing and eating lots of bread and baby food, as is becoming the way while we wait for his teeth to grow back. When he’d finished with the bit of bread he was eating, I noticed it had blood on it. I was terrified and scooped up my little boy to check he was okay. It wasn’t an awful lot of blood, but gerbils are so tiny you can’t take any chances.

Seeing he wasn’t in any distress I let him go and called Derek, who arranged to come home from work and take Almond to the vet. He was looking much better by the time Derek got him, but we still took him for a check-up anyway. As we have things under control, the vet didn’t offer much advice, but he did trim down Almond’s bottom teeth to help protect his top gums, and because there is nothing for them to wear against.

Almond was understandably upset after his trip to the vet, but he has settle down well and is back to coming to us for food several times a day. He is a very brave boy, gerbils have such tiny stomaches, but Almond understands to eat as much as he can at feeding times. We have got into a nice routine of giving him four feeds a day. His favourite feed is at tea time, when he gets super fresh bread not long out the bread machine :-). We are still hopeful his teeth will come back, even so Almond seems in good spirits, and though he can’t chew cardboard he’s still enjoying coming out to run around and squabble with his brothers.

Still no teeth

With all the excitement, and sadness, in our home we have not forgotten about our toothless gerbil, Almond. Unfortunately there is still no sign of his top teeth returning, but he is still a very happy little guy. His brothers are taking really good care of him, keeping him groomed and even being incredibly patient when he gets yummy food to eat. I am so proud of all three of them, they are only little animals after all, but they care for each other so deeply and are looking after each other. Even at play time, Acorn and Cashew are really good with their poorly brother, not being too rough with him and letting him enjoy his baby food, without too much interruption.

It is very difficult to cope with Almond, knowing we are his sole source of food, although we have got into a nice routine of when he wants feeding and how he likes his food. Sometimes he likes large bits of bread other times lots of little bits. Occasionally he will even enjoy some broken up sunflowers. We are getting very good at telling what he wants, how he wants it and when he’s had enough. We have always been very close to our gerbils, making sure we sit on the floor with them everyday and play, but have learnt so much about Almond and his tiny little expressions. It is a very specially experience, and we are enjoying this important time with our little guy.

Our gerbil, Almond sitting in a hollowed out coconut