Barley, Syrup, Millie & Rogue

August 1999 - April 2003

Barley, Syrup, Millie and Rogue sneaking in from the side

Barley, Syrup, Millie and Rogue sneaking in from the side

Four gerbils who keep us very busy

Barley & Rogue

Barley & Rogue

We have had pairs of gerbils in the past and thought four would be fun. We were very lucky at the pet shop, they only had four and they were all girls just what we wanted. They were also all different colours.

Having four gerbils is an incredible experience, they are all such characters. Barley has the biggest personality, always learning new tricks to get her into trouble. Barley can climb out of the cage when the door is open, somehow managing to pull herself up with those little hands. With two cats in the house we have to be very careful she doesn’t end up as a cat toy

Rogue is Barley’s trusty sidekick, getting into trouble together is what they do best. Rogue earned her name because she was such a little madam when she was younger. Her naughtiest habit came about from being offered treats as a baby. The quickest way to a gerbils heart is through their tummy, so in bonding with our four girls sunflowers and other yummy things were used. Rogue took this to mean that our hands were food dispensing devices and that nipping them would release more food, little devil. She then went through a phase of stealing treats from her sisters, They soon broke her of that habit.

Syrup & Millie

Syrup & Millie

Syrup is the shy one, though that doesn’t mean she isn’t just as naughty as her sisters. She has a very strange habit of nipping our socks, while we are wearing them. This is not a good idea as the reflex action to a nip on the ankle is to twitch sending Syrup jumping across the floor, she won’t stop though.

Millie is a funny girl that is the only way to describe her. We are convinced she watches television! On many occasions we find her sitting on the boxes in the gerbil home gazing at the TV, once the TV goes black she disappears and goes back to doing gerbily things. She has sat through the full length of Titanic, quite the movie buff!

Our girls share a large home that is full of wooden toys and tunnels for them to chew and play with. We also fill the tank with a fresh supply of cardboard everyday and they always get through it. We also make sure our little burbles (what we affectionately call a group of gerbils) come out and play regularly, no home could ever be big enough for them charging around they like to do on the floor. Great care has to be taken that we don’t sit on one of them, gerbils do like to run at you when you move.

The girls home

The girls home

One of our little gerbils Rogue has died

Our cheeky little girl, Rogue

Our cheeky little girl, Rogue

Sadly we have lost little Rogue to a respiratory infection. She became very down, not wanting sunflower seeds and struggling to breath. We took her straight to the vets who gave her Baytril. As Rogue was very poorly we separated her from her sisters, we didn’t want them to get ill and Rogue wasn’t up to dealing with their fun and games. After a couple of days she seemed to pick up, her appetite returned and she even felt well enough to demolish a cardboard tube. Unfortunately the infection caught up with her and her little body couldn’t cope and she died in my hands. We can take some comfort in the fact she wasn’t alone and we knew she didn’t suffer.

We are going to miss our cheeky little girl very much. While Barley was very much the leader of our girls, Rogue was the trouble maker of the group. She loved looking for mischief to get into and to lead Barley astray. Her personality was much larger than her little gerbil body and her passing has left a very large hole in our family.

Cheeky Rogue sneaking up on Barely and Syrup

Cheeky Rogue sneaking up on Barely and Syrup

Barley has been missing her sister, Rogue

Barley and Rogue in happier times

Barley and Rogue in happier times

We knew our little gerbil family wasn’t going to be the same without Rogue’s troublesome ways. Barley took the loss of her sister badly at first, she and Rogue used to spend a lot of time together tussling and getting into trouble. As Barley still wanted to play she took to harassing her other two sisters, who are both much calmer in character, chasing them round the room and making them squeak.

It was upsetting to see our little gerbils so unhappy and unsettled, so we’ve been trying to intervene and let Barley know we are there for her to play with. I’m pleased to say it has been working. Barley seems to have settled down and when she wants to play she now harasses us and gets lots of extra attention, leaving our little girls Millie and Syrup to amuse themselves in their own sweet ways.

Little Barley has had an accident

Our sweet gerbil, Barley climbing out of her cageBarley jumped from six inches above the ground and fell awkwardly on her face. On checking her over we noticed she had broken one of her teeth.

We took her straight to the vet, we are very lucky that our vet gives small animals the same love and respect as a dog or cat. The tooth is wobbly and out of alignment but Barley is not in pain and is eating, though very carefully. The vet decided to leave the tooth, as to try and remove it would mean an aesthetic. We are to take her back in a couple of days, in the mean time we need to make sure she is still eating and not in any discomfort.

Our fingers are very tightly crossed that beautiful little girl is going to be okay.

Barley had an operation and is home safe, phew!

Barley went for her check up with the vets and unfortunately there was no improvement with her tooth, so they had to operate. We were very frightened for our little friend, and it was a very long morning waiting to find out if she was okay.

We phoned the vets at one o’clock to check on her, and found we’d had no need to worry Barley was up and about and amusing everyone with her antics. Even the vet commented on how well she had recovered from the anaesthetic. When we went to collect her, Barley was busy in her little travel tank digging away, you wouldn’t believe she had just had an anaesthetic and a tooth removed.

'Yum'

'Yum'

It is a great relief to have her home safe and sound. Its going to be a diet of baby food, fruit and mushy cereal for Barley while she recovers, and I don’t think she minds one little bit.

One of Barley's teeth is growing back

Our gerbil, Barely sitting on Lindsay's armDerek has been checking little Barleys mouth for the last couple of weeks to look for her new teeth and make sure she is okay. On our last check there was the sight of one little tooth regrowing, which is a great relief to us. Barley is getting a bit fed up with the baby food, but now we are tempting her with broken up sunflower seeds and she is managing to eat them. We know she still has a way to go before she is fully over her little teeth incident, but it is wonderful to see signs of improvement.

I’m pretty sure Barely will also be very happy to have her teeth back and start chomping her way through some cardboard again! She’s already started tearing her way through her cardboard, she still can’t chew it, but its a start.

Yippee, both of Barley's teeth are growing back

Derek had a look today and he saw a second little tooth poking through. Barley is going to be back at her old chomping ways very soon, and we can’t wait.

Barely, Millie and Syrup waiting for some pumpkin seed

Barely, Millie and Syrup waiting for some pumpkin seed

Another sad loss for our family

Our little gerbil, Barely nibbling an appleOur sweet little Barley has died. Last week she had been taken ill with a respiratory infection. We took her straight to the vets and got her some medicine.

Barley was very brave trying to join in with her sisters when they came out to play, but she was very, very poorly. It was incredibly difficult to see our adventurous and active little girl struggling and when it became obvious she was not going to recover we had to make the difficult decision to take her back to the vets and say goodbye. It was a very sad day, we buried her in our back garden near her sister Rogue.

Even though Barley had the biggest personality of the four gerbils, and was kind of our favourite, we are still taking extra special care of our two remaining little old gerbils, Syrup and Millie. They are very sweet and undemanding, compared to their two sisters, but we love them very much and are enjoying spending time with them without the boisterous distraction of their sisters.

Millie & Syrup are still going strong

A naughty treat for our girls

A naughty treat for our girls

It has been three months since we lost little Barley and our two remaining gerbils are keeping us very busy. At first it was quiet a shock for Millie and Syrup, Barley had been the leader of our little gang and it was quite an adjustment just being the two of them. Millie and Syrup have coped very well with all the changes, they spend far more time together than they had before, we very rarely see one of them alone.

Both gerbils demand a lot of attention from us, far more than they even did as babies. We had originally responded to them by letting them out every night, but of course they are old gerbils and this just over tired them. They would very quickly get tired and start being naughty and fighting. We have now settled into a happy rhythm with them, letting them out every other night for about half an hour. Of course everyday we give them lots of attention while they are in their cage, but nothing can make up for the fun they have while climbing all over us. They are both still very healthy and active and have celebrated their third birthday in August we are very proud of them.

Our two little old gerbils have died

Our two gerbils, Millie and Syrup out exploring

Syrup and Millie

Sadly both of our two remaining gerbils have passed away. Old age caught up with them and they both slowed down, we first noticed the amount of cardboard they were getting through had decreased. Then the time they wanted to spend out of their cage grew shorter. Our precious little Millie died on March 18 and little Syrup passed away a few weeks later on April 4. At just over three and a half years in age, they were both a very special pair of gerbils. We are really going to miss them.

After all the fun we had with our four little girls we made the difficult decision not to have any more gerbils for a while. Barley, Rogue, Syrup and Millie are going to be a hard act to follow, we really do miss them.

Our four beautiful girls

Our four beautiful girls