Cherry, Plum & Olive

July 2015

Olive, Plum and Cherry

Olive, Plum and Cherry

Oops we've done it again!

After a supply run for rat food we went and fell in love with some teeny, tiny baby gerbils. We affectionally call the pet shop “Crunchie’s Pet Shop” as it is where our first ever rat came from. We have to be careful shopping there just because they are so good with their animals and it is so tempting, as is proved by our new additions. We saw the baby gerbils two weeks before, they were sitting beside the counter in a large tank, they weren’t for sale back then as they were too small, but when we popped in for more rat food the sign said they were ready to be homed.

There were six gerbils in the litter altogether, three boys and three girls. We went for the little girls and they are beautiful. Because they are bred in store the gerbils are all incredibly well socialised and love being picked up, though they are tricky to keep hold off :-) The store were also very sweet, they normally sell gerbils for £10 each, but the guy who bred them thought we’d love them so much he let us have them for £15 for all three. We’d have paid anything for them, but it is lovely that someone saw our love for little gerbils shining and wanted us to have them.

The girls are living in our previous gerbil, Wheatie’s, old cage, but we have a surprise on the way for them. They are thrilled with their home and have started demolishing cardboard already. Olive and Plum are both grey agouti and Cherry is agouti. The girls have three very distinct personalties; Olive though tiny is very fearless and given a chance to leave the cage and run around she was off like a shot, taking no time at all to figure out how to get out of the cage. Cherry is the speedy one, she was a bit more nervous coming out, but when she does there is no stopping her as she charges about. Finally, Plum is very laid back, she likes to do things in her own sweet-time. Who knows how they will change as they grow, but I’m very excited to get to know them and earn their trust.

Confusion reigns

Cherry

Cherry

Our girls are very young and when they are small, gerbils can be difficult to sex. We’ve become a little concerned that Cherry is actually a boy. The chap who bred them wasn’t 100% sure she was female, though he was fairly certain. While playing with the girls we started to wonder about Cherry. We are pretty sure she is a female, but don’t really want to take any chances with Cherry’s future happiness, so we decided the best thing to do was go back to the store and get their brothers – it makes sense to us :-) The gerbils are still young enough to live together, and as they’d only been apart for one day we had no problems putting them all together again. Given an extra week or two we should know where we are with Cherry and the babies can be separated by gender and everyone will be safe and happy.

It may seem bit crazy, as we’ll end up with two cages of gerbils, but it was the best option for us and the gerbils. There was no way I could part with little Cherry if she is a boy, but it would be cruel of me to force her to live as a lone gerbil just so I can keep her. I’m not complaining about the extra gerbils, I secretly wanted them all at the time, and now I have my way no matter what happens! Being lucky enough to stay home and care for our family, one extra cage is no extra bother and I have plenty of time to make sure everyone gets lots of attention and play time.

A surprise for our babies

Even before the gerbil population doubled in our house we had ordered our little girls a new home. I’ve had my eye on the Savic Habitat XL for quite some time. It always looked like a fantastic gerbil home, mixing two different cage types, a tank on the bottom and wire frame on top to give gerbils the best of both worlds. Well, as soon as our girls joined the family I knew they had to have one. The cage has a lovely big door that with some ladders will be great for the gerbils to climb in and out of at play time, always an important feature for buying gerbils cages.

We’d had the cage a few days before we introduced the gerbils to it, wanting to give them time to settle in, especially with the boys arriving too. Today we took the plunge and transferred our gerbils to their new home, and they absolutely love it. The cage actually comes with a wire shelf for the top part of the cage, but we weren’t too sure of its safety for little gerbil feet, especially while they are babies. Instead we’ve given them a wooden ledge, a rope scramble net and a wooden ramp to get up there. I may reintroduce the wire shelf when the gerbils are bigger, especially if they chew the scramble rope to bits! For now though, other than jumping off things, which can’t be helped in any cage, the gerbils are safe. All six are still together and although the cage is not big enough for six gerbils it is fine while they are babies, and we intend to purchase another cage before we need to separate them.

Super fast learners

It never ceases to amaze me how bright gerbils are. Given a challenging environment gerbils excel at problem solving and learning from each other. After only two days of being in their new cage, all six gerbils have learnt to go in and out by themselves using a wooden ladder hooked to the outside.

Olive was the first one to use the ramp, closely followed by her brother Acorn. Once those two had it sussed, they all started using the ramp. To make it extra special, they also respond to me gently clapping to encourage the to go in, which is very handy with six tiny gerbils charging around.

I am so proud of my little babies, they are so confident and full of fun and adventure and I’m having a fantastic time learning all their personalities. They are growing so quickly at the moment and a few have lost their babyish look and are turning into miniature gerbils. We currently have them out to play two times a day and let them wear themselves out. We also spend plenty of time with them in their cage tempting them with treats and letting them get to know us.

Clean out time troubles

I have a very relaxed attitude towards our little critters, sometimes a little too relaxed and Derek doesn’t always appreciate it! Clean out time was one such occasion. He was off washing out the gerbils cage base for me, while I supervised the girls and was supposed to keep them out of trouble.

I was sitting near the bucket of old sawdust, when Olive climbed on my knee and tried to reach it. She couldn’t so I moved it closer and our cheeky little gerbil wasted no time in jumping in. I thought it was magical watching her and grabbed my phone and started to record her. As is the way with happy gerbils, Olive’s excitement and bravery grew until she was digging and kicking out dirty sawdust all over the place. That’s when Derek returned and I got in trouble, still it makes for a fun video :-).

Three gerbils one coconut

What can I say my gerbils love their coconut!

Gerbil playtime

My little girls come out everyday to run around our office, scavenge food the rats have dropped, squabble and do gerbily things. From an early age they learned to come out and go in all by themselves and it still makes me proud to see how much they love their home.

Gerbil troubles

Cherry and Olive

Cherry and Olive

Things are a little difficult with our girls at the moment. Firstly our precious Cherry passed away suddenly on Tuesday. She was looking a little ill on Monday, which was New Years day, her breathing was slightly laboured and she looked tired. We got her straight on the baby food, which she did enjoy and it seemed to help her a bit. Sadly she was very poorly and we found her passed away in her tank on Tuesday afternoon.

We buried out sweet little girl next to her brother, Cashew, in our garden and hoped her two sisters would be okay. Unfortunately this hasn’t happened. When I played with Olive and Plum on Wednesday afternoon they seemed tense with each other. Olive was also a little standoffish with me, and she didn’t want any sunflowers, I didn’t worry about it, because they are sisters and I hoped they would work things out. That evening at feeding time, I found both of them covered in blood. It was was dried and there were no signs of injury, still as gerbils can fight to the death we both thought it best to separate our girls, for their safety. Neither seem very happy on their own, Plum is confused why she’s in a different cage and Olive looks so unhappy it is painful to look at her.

Only time will tell if we can reintroduce them. It will be a difficult time, as we, obviously, don’t want them to hurt each other, but we don’t want to make them miserable with loneliness.

Olive, Plum & Cherry

Olive, Plum & Cherry

Together again

Plum and Olive together again

Plum and Olive together again

I’m pleased to say little Olive and Plum are back together in the same cage again. We took reintroducing the girls very slowly, but seeing as neither of them seemed happy apart we knew it had to be done. As Plum was in one of our spare gerbil cages, we decided to put them together in this cage, rather than the one they’d shared with Cherry and had fallen out in. Friday afternoon I let them out together in the office, just to see how they reacted to each other. Things were tense but there was no aggression between them, so when I put them away I popped them both in the temporary cage together. I spent the rest of the afternoon watching them, and apart from some confusion as to where they were they seemed happy. By Saturday they were still getting on, so I took their old cage apart and gave it a thorough clean, even disinfecting the wood. My hope was that removing any trace of Cherry would help the girls resettle into their old cage, as her passing was obviously what had triggered the aggression between Olive and Plum.

Sunday afternoon is the regular clean out day for all my gerbils, so Derek and I had the girls out on the floor while I put their home back together. They were very interested in helping me, which was nice. Once it was done, Plum was straight in and exploring. Olive took a bit of convincing, but she had some sunflowers once she was in. We still continued to keep an eye on the girls. Olive still seems a little unhappy, but Plum is very happy to be back in their home.

Time will tell how the girls will cope without Cherry. She was such a large part of all our lives, it is easy to understand how her passing has impacted her sisters. For now we are taking extra special care of Plum and Olive making sure they know how much we love them and hopefully that will be enough to get them through this difficult time.