Gerbil Training.

I took out the Nikon to get portraits of the new boys for my About page on here. Gerbils are invading Hammy Happenings. Now it’s Hammy Happenings and Gerbilations!

So, there is a story here about these Gerbils. When I entered the pet store I did not see Gerbils in the containers out front. It was all hamsters, rats, chinchillas, and mice. Disappointed I approached an employee and asked about when they would get Gerbils in. She said they kept them in the back because they were not popular and didn’t sell well. This instantly put me on alert and made me very sad.

She and I walked back there and she pulled out a tiny container they were kept in and I knew I had to get them. Not only because I came there for Gerbils but because I could not let them stay there in that little sad container with maybe a handful of wood shavings and a plastic (plastic is terrible for Gerbils!) house they had chewed up. I could smell urine wafting from them. Gerbils smell less than hamsters. And Hamsters are very clean animals. So, you know it’s a bad situation when you can smell Gerbil’s pee that strong.

Arriving home  immediately put them in their new aquarium and of course after initial shock they became so excited. But skittish of us. I didn’t want to stress them out further or accidentally “de-glove” their tails in the process of getting them from their box to the tank so I used a drinking cup for them to hop in willingly and then let them hop out willingly into the new habitat.

This skittishness they exhibited – I initially felt that was natural. The stress of the move and such. But I realized a couple of days later they were not taming up at all. An experienced person from the forum told me that for just a little while I’d have to put them in a smaller cage where they would be forced to get used to humans. Where they were they were not exposed to people period. No view of them passing by or kids tapping at the glass or being handled by anyone.

I hate having them in something so small as a 10 gallon but I refer to it as the “training tank” and it’s working. Slowly but surely. They aren’t nearly as skittish. Everyday they get a little bit bolder. Especially Mercury who is the most distrusting of the two.

So, they can get exercise and also for help in bonding them to me I put them in a “play bin” (play pen lol). It’s the spare bin cage I made that Strawberry is no longer using as a double decker. I changed out the bedding and put some enrichment in there. They had such a ball in the space. I am going on the idea that they associate humans with fun. With good things.

And a cute little short vid of them checking out their play bin. I bet they wish they didn’t have to leave it! But it’s plastic and I know they would chew their ways out of there in no time!

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4 thoughts on “Gerbil Training.

  1. I am so happy to have found your blog! I am a new Gerbil owner, her name is Olivia and I adopted her from a friend that had to move away and was not able to take her along. Olivia’s story is similar to your gerbils. Her previous owner was a Petsmart employee and found in her the storage room and fell in love. Prior to the storage room, Olivia had two different homes, both families returning her for what I think are ridiculous reasons.

    She’s such a sweet girl, and I’m so happy to have her in my life! There was another post where you discussed your gerbils’ progression to trusting you. I’ve only had her in my home for a week, but have had her for a total of two weeks (the first week I was living away from home). Over the last few days there have been major improvements. She still scampers off from me when I walk into the room if my presence spooks her, especially if she happened to be napping. Here are just a few of the changes: shes started to groom herself in front of me, she doesn’t always turn away while eating, approaches the cage door when I enter the room, and a few hours ago SHE BLINKED AT ME!!! I’m not entirely sure how true the “blinking theory” is for gerbils, that it’s another sign of trust but before tonight Olivia had never done it.

    I’ve started her off with D.I.Y cardboard toys which she seems to love and have also begun to give her ‘out-of-the-cage’ exploration time. This is usually while I sit on the computer, I open the cage door and wait for her to decide to come out. This method might not be the best, but I want her to feel safe and know that I’m going to try my best to do right by her. It is really upsetting that people buy/adopt pets only to neglect to care for them, or return them because the novelty has worn off. There are absolutely no dull moments with Olivia. I look forward to enlarging her cage and introducing new treats.

    Thanks again for your awesome blog, I hope this doesn’t seem strange but you’re a great person!
    ~Fellow Animal Lover

    • Oh this was so lovely to receive and read!!!! Thank you so much and you sound like a wonderful person too!!! I love hearing gerbil stories like this. Please keep me updated on her progress!!! Mine still do not wish to be held. They ,ay never appreciate it. I feel like I break their trust if I force it and so I prefer to remove them with a large cup or a pot. They are so curious and have no issue hopping into something new and interesting. But I have made the progress of being able to touch and pet and rub them for a moment after handing them a treat!

      It’s the small things. It’s just wonderful to have them at all just the way they are. Giving them the best I can pleases me. If they never become cuddly I will still adore them!

      I love Olivia’s name! I always have loved that name. I have a list of old fashioned girl names I would have named a daughter or female pets and Olivia was on the top 5.

      Keep in touch xo

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