September 2007 - March 2010

Our new gerbil, Berry

Berry has joined our family

Our gerbil, Berry standing up looking roundAfter our precious Cheddar passed away we had decided not to get anymore gerbils. Because we love to interact with our little family members we weren’t sure if we could keep up with another pair of young gerbils. Baby gerbils are incredibly fast and sitting on the floor with them is not as enjoyable as it was 10 years ago :-).

We had put Cheddar’s old cage in the loft, just in case, which turned out to be a very fortunate move after a trip to the pet store to get a bunny cage, we came home with Berry. The pet superstore we visited ran their own rehoming scheme and when we saw the cute little black gerbil curled up all by himself we just could not resist. Berry is six months old and his previous parents had just dumped him in a cardboard box outside the pet store, and he was looking for a new family.

As Berry has not been handled very much, if at all, he is very jumpy and we are taking our time with him. He has managed to bite us a couple of times already, and we are being very careful because we don’t want it to become a habit with him. He is obviously very upset by everything he has been through and the last thing we want is to make things worse.

With a lot of patience, tender loving care, and sunflowers we hope Berry will calm down and realise we are not big scary ogres. Until then we are happy to give him all the time and patience he needs to settle in and be happy.

A much needed update about Berry

Our funny little gerbil, BerryI have been a bit remiss in updating about Berry since he first joined our family. It’s hard to believe he has been with us over two years now and, I’m pleased to say, is still going strong.

Things have changed a lot in our relationship with Berry since we first got him. He is still prone to bite given half the chance, the worst times are when Derek is trying to pick up berry’s food bowl, to feed him. If he hasn’t checked where Berry is before putting his hand in his cage the little devil will come launching out of nowhere and give Derek a good chomp, usually resulting in spilt gerbil food. Having said that, Berry does love being hand-fed sunflowers, though again if we’re not paying attention he will bite our fingers if the chance presents itself. I know that makes Berry sound a bit mean, but he’s not really, he is very sweet just a bit confused and we do love him very much.

One mistake we did make with Berry early on was not to realise he doesn’t like to come out of his cage very much. All our past gerbils have loved running around on the floor, climbing and generally exploring where their little gerbily legs will let them, but Berry is not like our other gerbils.

After giving Berry a few days to settle in we started letting him out of his cage. Thinking we knew best when Berry refused to leave his home, we tipped him out – so he would learn what fun running around was. Unfortunately all we ended up with was a stressed gerbil and bitten fingers. Eventually we did get the message that Berry liked being a hermit, and we only got him out of his cage when it was cleaning out time. We just make do with little glimpses of him when he gets up to get something to eat or pop to the loo!

Our gorgeous little black gerbil, Berry

Gradually over time he has, and still is, mellowing. Cleaning out time is easier and less stressful and Berry is actually starting to seem enjoy running around a bit more now. We are still hopeful we will get to let him our more, and see more of him. Plus the biting incidents at feeding time are getting fewer and far between.

Our gerbil, Berry looking what's going on as his cage is cleaned outOne thing we are very proud of with Berry is that we taught him how to eat pumpkin seeds. We feed Berry Supreme Gerri Gerbil food, which contains pumpkin seeds in their cases. Our poor little Berry didn’t know what they were. If I peeled one for him he’d wolf it down, so we knew he liked them. I started half peeling a pumpkin seed and giving it to him. At first he’d just eat to the case and then drop it, but over time he gradually learned. It was actually a few weeks ago we saw evidence that he had shelled and eaten a pumpkin seed all by himself. It may not sound like much, but I was so proud of him and myself.

Even though our relationship with Berry is not quite what we had planned for when we first got him, we know he loves us and we love him. Our little black gerbil has his own little ways of letting us know we are important to him, like he waits for us at feeding time and then runs off and disappears when we turn up. He will soon reappear to be hand fed sunflowers though and to check what’s been added to his food bowl. He also always has a little drink of water when we fill up his water bottle.

It is amazing the number of ways Berry lets us know we are important to him and most importantly that he trusts us. He makes it very easy to forgive him when he goes a little crazy and bites us :-)

Our shy guy, Berry, has died

Our sweet gerbil, Berry standing on his hind legsWhile loosing Berry is another blow for our family, I can say that he passed away peacefully from old age. A few days ago we noticed we were seeing less of him, and then yesterday he just wasn’t himself and we knew we were going to lose him. While it made us very sad to know he was going to leave us, with all the upset and illness we’ve been through with our rats, seeing Berry slipping away peacefully at a good age did give us some comfort.

Berry was very special to us, even if our relationship was a little odd, and he passed away the way he lived his life – quietly and in his own time. He wasn’t big on coming out to play or being petted by us, but he still had a large presence in our lives. We are going to miss catching glimpses of him while we are eating our dinner. He’d often sit watching us and once we’d spotted him, he’d dart back into his maze of boxes and sawdust not to be seen again!

I can honestly say Berry was not like any other gerbil we have ever known, but I’m pretty sure he was happy in his secluded little life and we are very happy to have known him.