Mercury.

IMG_2182

Mercury. I just did not expect to lose you so young. I do not know what happened. I cannot even fathom the last 48 hours. I am so heartbroken. I don’t know if I can ever get more rodents after this. You leave behind Lennon who is absolutely lost without you. I cannot even write a proper memorial because I am just absolutely in shock.

I named you after one of my favorite musicians. Freddie Mercury from Queen. A man I’ve never met but who was obviously a warm, loving, gentle, and talented soul. And who died too young as well. And with so much left to do left undone. A talented treasure just taken from us all. You were a proper namesake.

My 4 year old is so confused by death of late. He asked if you would come back. He said he didn’t want you to go. He said that you cannot go away because you and Lennon are happy together. That you cannot leave Lennon alone. That you are Lennon’s brother and brothers stick together. Like he and his brother. Then he asked if his brother would get sick like Mercury and he like Lennon would be left behind. And it absolutely broke my heart. How your death impacts us. How it touches the heart of a small child. How it hurts this heart of mine.

In the last days Lennon mothered you. He groomed you. He slept on top of you. He held you in his gerbil way. Watching this unfold was the most anguishing thing I’ve ever seen with animals. So human this devotion of one to another. And then Lennon buried you. You were still breathing but just barely. But he knew. He had finally said his goodbye. I dug you out and held you. Held you to my chest. Held you for hours. Using the dropper to hydrate you with water. Then made a warm cloth nest for you in a smaller container to keep near me. For two days you held on like this. In this state of limbo. Like a coma truth be told. Like you were only sleeping. Deeply sleeping. Picking you up and giving you water. Hoping you’d rouse. That you were only just in the worst of the illness and would improve at any time.

Denial perhaps. I don’t know. But now you are resting in finality by the peach tree in the back yard.

“Who wants to live forever?

Who dares to love forever?

When love must die.

….

Who wants to live forever,
Who wants to live forever,
Forever is our today,
Who waits forever anyway?”

IMG_2183 IMG_6167

Mercury is Ill.

IMG_4991

At this point the picture was taken Mercury was absolutely exhausted from spinning and rolling constantly and collapsed. He is in the carrier in the examination room at the Vets. You can see the pain in his face.

IMG_5011

I’m emotionally drained. Yesterday, I realized that I hadn’t seen Mercury out that morning or the evening before. I looked into his cage and saw him sleeping on top of the substrate. Which was unusual but I figured he was just taking a rest. They are getting older and all.

After an hour or so I came back in from outside with the kids and saw that he had not moved. I was alarmed. I had seen him breathing but what if he was dying? I peered in and when he woke by my scent or sound he began turning around in clockwise circles.

And didn’t stop. And then he was going so fast and getting so exhausted he flipped over and began rolling like an alligator death roll. I had never heard of or seen anything like this before and I began to panic. And then I began to cry. Because I thought he was dying. Having some sort of violent fit before he died. I just had no idea what to think other than he was in trouble.

Gerbils live to be 3 or 3.5 years on average. So they just turned two this month and I couldn’t understand how a gerbil who has always been robust and healthy and a species that is actually usually quite illness free – would be at 2 suddenly having violent fits.

I packed him and Lennon (not wanting to separate them) in the carrier and with my kids we drove down to the nearest vet clinic as a walk in. Luckily they fit me in with their exotics vet. It was a long agonizing wait but at least we were going to be seen that day.

She held him firm with a towel and checked his ears for infection or tumors. Checked inside his mouth. She noticed his teeth had gotten a little long due to this condition probably. And that one of his molars was crooked. Which she figured was probably a deformity. She noted that his eye on the side he tilted down (his left side of his head) was crusted shut and the entire area looked swollen.

So, she said that she didn’t suspect a tumor but an infection. Though it didn’t appear to be in his inner ear but his eye. But I don’t know. It seems like this infection is pretty bad and cannot just be located in his eye.

She sent us home with antibiotics and eye drops and I administer it twice a day with droppers. Antibiotics orally and the eye drops are really difficult because I have to ungook his eye and drop it in just right and that is so difficult when I can barely hold him still as he is flipping and turning and rolling so violently and agile that he managed to get free of my grip and even hit the floor. Not from that high a height as I was sitting but still. It was terrified and upset all over again because what if he gets better from the infection just to have brain trauma due to my inability to hold him properly?

At this point I’m sleep deprived because I get up all night to see if he has shown any signs of getting better. He seems to have stopped spinning and rolling AS much as he was yesterday but it’s still often and I’m still incredibly worried. If he isn’t better in a couple more days I might have to have him put to sleep because I cannot take it anymore. It looks like torture. He’s so exhausted because he cannot seem to stop turning and rolling. It is horrible to watch and as he does this he’s hitting the sides of the bin and whatever else is around. There is no way this isn’t painful for him.

I worry the infection is all in his brain. At the same time I do not want to give up hope. I do not want him to die already. He is 2 which would be a long life for a hamster. Or a normal span. But for a Gerbil – they are still pretty much middle aged. So, it’s too soon. Unexpected. It came on so fast too. To go from the way he was to this. Unless he’s been doing this for awhile but in such a lesser degree that it went unnoticed. Such as he only did it when he was down in the burrows. I don’t stare at my gerbils all day. I’m busy. So, it is easy to imagine this has been going on for awhile and I only noticed when it got so terrible he was doing it constantly and vacating his burrow due to it.

The worst part of it all if there could be is how upset his brother is. Lennon is protective of him. Confused. He tries to hold him down sometimes. He grooms him or tries too. He looks up at me like “What is happening mom? What is wrong with my brother?” It give me anguish. Gerbil owners know how attached litter mates are to one another. Gerbils become depressed when they lose their litter mate. It’s something I worry about a lot.

Lennon would be torn up if Mercury dies. I just hate this. I love my hamsters and I’ve lost 3 of them now. But somehow my adoration for my gerbils is at a higher degree than I knew. The anguish I felt and the tears I shed in those moments of panic seeing him that way surprised me greatly. Not that I”m surprised to have a loving, caring heart. But this was somehow so different than other times.

For some reason the day I brought those gerbils home I became so enamored by them. I am particularly attached to them. I don’t know if I could ever have more gerbils after these two go because I don’t think I could stand going through losing more of them.

And the same goes with Bob sometimes. Bob is intensely important to me. I’m very bonded with him. I don’t know what I’ll do when he goes. He’s over 2 now.  I think about it a lot.

It’s so unfair how short their life spans are when they are cared for so well and given so much love and good nutrition and safe from predators and most diseases and such.

Anyway, just some thoughts I feel the last two days. I just hope he pulls through. I just expected the meds to work faster. It’s a 2 week ordeal with the antibiotics so maybe I’m being unrealistic about it.

Snow is at Peace

snow

 I found Snow curled up by his Flying Saucer. Seemingly peaceful. I hope so at least.

</3

Back in July 2012 I kept hearing about these “robos” on the hamster forums and elsewhere on the net during my searches to better educate myself on dwarf hamsters. I had Strawberry, my hybrid campbells dwarf but I began looking into Roborovskis and just knew I had to get a pair.

I went into Petsmart hoping to get lucky. They rarely had Robo’s there but that day I went in they had one in the front and two in the back. The two in the back had just come in and were so tiny I just could not believe my eyes. Two white boys and the only distinguishing mark between the two of them was Patch’s greyish brown patch on top of his head. I named the other Snow because he looked like a snow ball.

For the month they lived together in a 20 gallon tank they were hilarious. I loved watching their antics. They were so fast and so funny to me and so adorable. I didn’t bother forcing training on them. They truly preferred to be left alone. In my research I knew to expect them to be the species you watch but don’t touch. However, I didn’t research enough apparently. I did everything wrong. I had levels and I did not have two of everything. Eventually, Patch nearly killed Snow. I had to separate them.

Snow, my laid back Robo just crawled into my heart. Not that I didn’t love Patch for his personality but Snow continued to become more tame while Patch never has. And that i okay but there is a sense of closeness you develop when you can hold them. Snow, at he got older and older became more and more tame. To the point where I could hold him and he’d not try to run at all.

He gave me a scare when he somehow escaped his bookcase cage. But the bucket tick worked beautifully and swiftly and I got him caught in mere minutes!

He was a beautiful, beautiful, adorable, sweet, and gentle little hamster. His chip his brother put in his ear forever gave him that veteran look.

The last few months he and Patch had slowed down so much. Happy and still eating and drinking and exercising and always expecting a treat! A yogie or a piece of fruit or their favorites spinach. Snow, particularly had a thing for baked chicken. Whenever I baked a chicken I was sure to give him a tiny bite. As pictured in the collage (where he is in the yellow tube) he is munching euphorically on a bite of chicken. Of all my hams he was the most carnivorous.

Rest in peace little snow boo. You lived to be months over 2 years. A good life. Thank you for being in mine.

They’ve come a long way

 photo (2) The gerbils haven’t been in a playpen in too long. Rectifying that ASAP. They had a ball in here for an hour. I did a few switcharoos in there. Decided to get them to try out a Flying Saucer. Lennon attempted a few times but gave up. They are just not exercise toy Gerbils.

photo (1) photo

When I first brought home these brothers they were completely terrified of humans. They had been kept in the back of a store room in a TINY container with a chewed up plastic igloo house and a sprinkle of wood shavings. They were completely unfamiliar with people.

It took over a year and a half for them to truly become tame. I didn’t want to rush them. When I tried to at any given time it would upset them so much that they would back peddle. I realized that I would have to let them be. Just as they were. And I still adored them no matter what. Oh, they would come up to take treats from my fingers gladly and unafraid. But try to touch them and *zoom*. But something changed. It seemed almost overnight they were slowing down. Not easy to startle. Gained some weight. I thought – what the heck! – and attempted to pick one of them up. No trying to bolt. Just sort of letting it happen. I then gently placed them down and would attempt again every day. To the point where I was able to cradle them in my arms for a moment. Always giving them a treat they love (yogies) afterward.

So, nowadays it’s a new thing to be able to let them into playpens without it traumatizing them.

They’ve come a long way. I’m so proud of them!

And we are back online and settled someplace new!

Bob

Sleepy Bob. He’s getting up there but still seems so healthy and most certainly handsome. The older he has become the more glorious his long, satin coat has become. He is my special heartham.

So, we just did an over 2,000 mile drive. Moved halfway across the country. From East Coast to far West Texas! We drove through several states that had 100-102 F temperatures. And oh the humidity! So, on any stop my husband (driving his separate vehicle) would lock his doors with the engine running to keep air conditioning on the fuzzbutts. What little we stopped.

It was so hot that even my energetic little humans didn’t want to stay outside of the nice air conditioned vehicle long. The drive did take us 5 days. And in all of that the hamsters and gerbils were amazing through it all.

Instead of water bottles while the vehicles were moving I gave them hunks of cucumber and apple and celery for hydration. At stops I’d put their bottle back in. And then we stayed in pet friendly motels. I always recommend La Quinta. Though sometimes we had to stop at Best Westerns and the like who have a fee but usually do allow pets. La Quinta allows our furry family members in the rooms without a fee.

I made the bathtub an obstacle course so the furries could get some adventure. All of them seemed to take the vibration of the vehicle, the constant assault of new smells and sounds, and in and out of motel rooms with stride. I’m so proud of them!

Now they are all settled in here in El Paso. And none seem worse for the wear. Though my two robo brothers are definitely becoming more feeble. But that has nothing to do with the trip.

bob's house

Bob is back in the Kevin 82. I do not have a place to put the 40 gallon tank. Bob gets hotter easier than he used to so I wanted to put him in something with alot more ventilation. Bob has always loved this cage. He acted like he was greeting an old friend once I put him in there. For travel he was in a 105 qt Bin cage. So, I know he was pleased to be out of that. And for those I know who are curious  – that beautiful, wild looking quilted hammock was made with TLC and skill by Rittles N Bittles on etsy! Go visit her page!

Gabriel

Gabriel, my Chinese hamster, is back in the Tamburino. He has never been keen on bigger cages. But when I clutter it with a lot of hideaways and climbing toys that he can tunnel under and climb upon he seems right at home. He spent hours awake playing in every inch of his cage once I put him in. I’ve never seen him do that before. He must have been thrilled to be out of his small travel cage as well.

gerbil

My gerbils Lennon and Mercury are still in the smaller gerbilarium I made them. I am brainstorming something bigger for them but as for now they seem content in this.

patch

My Roborovskis Snow and Patch are becoming feeble and slow. Age has come to them. They mostly sleep now. They had trouble climbing around too much and seem to get lost or confused if they are too far from their house. So, they are in 64 qt bin cages. Bins without lids pretty much. Since they can’t climb out and to let in plenty of air flow. They certainly are happy to be in something smaller but not as small as their travel cages were. snow

 

I will take pictures of all my little guys soon to post. It feels good to be back online and settled somewhere new. And we are SO thankful we didn’t lose any of our rodents on such a long, extremely hot, journey.