For the Love of Gerbils

GerbilsI had finished cleaning the gerbil cage and was putting it back together when the cheap plastic top shattered in my strong, capable hands. Damn. I pondered my options as the gerbil rolled around my house in his plastic ball, leaving a trail of urine in his spherical wake. Then, I remembered that we had his starter cage. So, I dug it out of storage and painstakingly set it all up only to realize that it too was broken. The gerbil needed a home so I tied the cage together in various places with twine, took it upstairs and put him in there until I could figure out my next move. As with most things, my next move was Google. As with most things, Google can lead you astray. I started by Googling perfect gerbil cages because I could no longer tolerate the cheap plastic cages. I soon came to a page of “gerbil experts” and they said two things: gerbils should be kept in aquariums and gerbils should always be raised in pairs. We only have one gerbil - one twitchy, squirmy, perpetually anxious gerbil. Clearly, he was lonely! Clearly, we had been cruel and this needed to be rectified immediately! Clearly, I was going to the pet store to buy a gerbil! I sent Luisa a message regarding my extensive research and told her that we needed an aquarium and an extra gerbil stat. She responded that we were not going to get another gerbil because they would breed and take over the world. I assured her this would not happen because I would make sure that we got a same-sex domestic partner for our gerbil. She pointed out that the pet store had been unable to identify the sex of our gerbil and expressed doubt at my ability to do so. I assured her that I could easily identify the sex of our gerbil because I am smart and resourceful. .

I returned to Google and, with some trepidation, typed in gerbil + sex. Much to my surprise and relief, I was not immediately taken to sites for gerbil porn. I did, however, pick up some lingo from more “gerbil experts”. Identifying a gerbil’s sex is called sexing a gerbil. To sex a gerbil, you have to pick it up, turn it over and examine its gerbil bits. The only problem is that our gerbil is crazy (because of loneliness, obviously) and we have never been able to hold him. This was an emergency! Surely, he would know that I was trying to help and would crawl into my palm for some sexing. I went to the cage, explained my purpose and then chased him around the small cage for 15 minutes without success.

Early the next morning, Luisa and I were having coffee and the topic came up again:

Vikki: You need to help me sex the gerbil. Luisa: What?! Vikki: You know, identify the sex. So, c’mon baby – help me sex the gerbil. Luisa: No, I will not help you sex the gerbil. Vikki: Why not?! Luisa: Because I don’t think we should get another gerbil. This is your thing. You do it.

I was on my own. I reached into the cage once again and I caught him. I couldn’t flip him over because he was too squirmy so I just put him in the green plastic gerbil ball. It was rather dark so I held the ball up to the light and squinted at his underbelly to see if I could see any gerbil parts. Let me say that it is hard to identify green gerbil parts.

Vikki: Luisa! Come here and look! Luisa (sighing): What? Vikki: Everything is green but do you see balls or is that a gerbil vag right there? Luisa (looking at last): I can’t tell. Vikki: Why won’t it stay still so I can tell if it has gerbil balls?! Luisa: If you make a mistake, you have to deal with all the babies.

A few moments passed and I declared our gerbil to be female! Or maybe it was male. Of course, the green made it look like a martian so that was an option as well. Later that day, I went to the pet store to buy a female gerbil but, once I got there, I was haunted by Luisa’s words: “You have to deal with the babies…BABIES...BABIES…” I went back home, and plucked that little gerbil right out of the cage, flipped it and sexed it. It was undeniably female!

I went back to the pet store to buy another female gerbil only to find out that introducing a new gerbil to an adult gerbil can lead to bloodshed. I didn't want to look into my beautiful glass aquarium and see a gerbil battlefield strewn with bloody gerbil parts. So, I walked away. I gave up on the quest that had occupied me for days. Our gerbil remains single and crazy. She's not alone in her craziness, though...she still has me.