Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Why can't ZuZu want a Zhu-Zhu?

We have a problem. ZuZu wants a gerbil. After everything we've been through with Rox recently, I can't believe she's even considering bringing another member of the animal kingdom into our abode. For a couple of years, she wanted a turtle. I don't know where that infatuation came from. Maybe the comcast commercial. I admit, even I was a bit enamored with Bill Slowsky. But that's because he was a talking turtle with a dry sense of humor. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were kinda cool, too. But again, not real. Real turtles don't talk, and they don't wear primary-colored masks. How much fun and joy could a non-talking, non-ninja pet turtle really bring a pre-teen girl? Luckily, we were able to stave off that ridiculous request.

But now, she's serious. She ain't playin', people. She's keeping up with chores. She's babysitting in the neighborhood and saving her own money. She's researching online. AAAND....she has persuaded Big Daddy that it is time for her to have her own little pet.

So why am I not on board with the gerbil request? Cold hard fact. A gerbil is a member of the rodent family. I don't do rodents. I can handle bugs and spiders the size of a softball. But I do not do rodents. They are rabies-infested, buck-tooth, squeaky, squirmy disease puffs. And they're tails are nasty. It may sound like I'm describing a mouse, not a cute little gerbil.

I give you, Exhibit A:

Now what the hell difference is it whether you call that little rodent a mouse or a gerbil? It's not cute.

Let me guess, you were expecting something more like this?

Oh sure, at first glance he looks adorble. But stare into those beady little eyes and imagine those whiskers twitching with a purpose. Can you REALLY trust his intentions?

Remember how I said their tails were nasty? Common reason people are turned off by gerbils as pets is their long, scary tails. So, the breeders have remedied this by creating a variety of "fat-tailed gerbils."

Four words: HELL TO THE NO!!

Alright, two can play at this game. I did a little research myself. I went straight to the source for slackers (wikipedia) and found out some interesting facts I'd like to share. Did you know that not unlike our friends across the pond, gerbils are known for having poor teeth. It seems misalignment of the incisors due to injury or malnutrition is somewhat common, and can cause the fangs to grow extra-large. If this is a problem for your gerbil, you're expected to have them regularly clipped by a vet for as long as you both shall live. Shagedelic, baby.

Guess what else. It seems another common problem for our creepy creature is neglect. So not only are they creepy, they're needy. Not really looking for a high-maintenance rodent right now. Got my own issues. What happens to a neglected gerbil? They lose their appetite, which in turn causes serious health concerns including dehydration, starvation, stomach ulcers, eating of bedding material, and cannibalism. That's right. A neglected gerbil will gnaw my daughter to death until there is nothing left of her. And I will know it is my fault for allowing a rodent in our house.

You think I'm being irrational, don't you? How about this little fun fact on the fur ball. Between 20 and 50-percent of all pet gerbils have epilepsy. Won't that be fun watching Mr. Whiskers have seizures when handled too much or stressed about his new aspen shavings? I'll give ya aspen shavings you little -

I'll spare you the info on tail-sloughing and Tyzzer's disease and skip straight to the tumors. That's right, apparently tumors, both benign and malignant, are also fairly common amongst pet gerbils. But not to worry, your friendly, neighborhood veterinarian will be able to operate on the lump. Remember the last time my pet went under the knife? See previous post, 'How My Male Dog Acquired a Va-Jay-Jay.' Don't say I didn't warn you, fuzzball!

All of this ranting and raving over a little rodent may seem a bit dramatic to you, but I truly can't stand this genera. They give me the heebie-jeebies. I can't pinpoint an exact incident in which I decided that they were sent from the devil, but I do have an interesting story to share:

Years ago, the kids and I went to visit my parents for the weekend. I stayed up a little later than everyone else, decompressing in front of the television. When I was finally ready to call it a night, I shut off the kitchen lights and headed through the dimly lit living room on my way to the stairs. Huh? Double-take. What's that black blob on the wall? My eyes adjusted and I made out what looked like - A DISEASE-INFESTED RODENT?!? Adrenaline formed a mushroom cloud which took the express elevator up my esophogus and bursted through my lips with a whispered, "EEEEEEP." I bolted, taking the 100 year old stairs two at a time. I burst through the door of my parents' room.....

"Mom! MOOOOM!" I whispered loudly in a panic.

"What? What's wrong," as she tried to get her wits.

"There's a mouse crawling up your wall in the living room!"

"A mouse? On the wall?" Up to this point, I hadn't contemplated the probability of this.

"Yes, it's a black rodent holding onto the woven wallpaper." Yeah, that makes sense. I think.

"Oh. No,'s probably a bat."


"A BAT?!?" Holy $h*!, Batman!

"Yeah, it's fine, honey. They come down through the chimney sometimes."

It's FINE?!? It's fine because it's not a mouse, it's a FLYING MOUSE?!? No, it's not FINE!

This is the part of the story where my 5-foot, 95-pound mother gets out of bed, finds a tupperware container in the kitchen, captures Bruce Wayne while he was sleeping, and I suppose disposed of him outside? I wouldn't know what exactly happened to him. I was under the canopied, twin-sized bed I had slept in since 4th grade.

It's all fun and games until somebody gets a long-toothed, epileptic, cancerous flying rodent stuck in her hair. What's a mom to do? Be the evil-one and put my foot down, forbidding the "innocent" puffball to be a part of our family. Or fold, let the aspen chips fall where they may, and practice my motherly, "I told you so" speech? Yeah, probably the second one.

Truth is, I'm afraid if I deny her this request (as I first denied her the turtle), she will move on to the next obsession. And what if it's this?

Freakin' gerbil.


  1. I felt the same about the hamster. We knew we were going to have to put the dog down, so she got the hamster. Was not looking forward to it. Then we put said hamster in little ball. FUNNIEST freaking thing EVER. Dog's reaction to hamster in the ball - even funnier. SO the disease carrying rodent grew on me. The initial agreement was NO vet visits for funky teeth and no histrionics when the rodent with a 1-2 yr lifespan dies. Fuzzball turned out to he a Houdini with regard to cage escapes (not fun) but a CRAZY entertainer climbing around like a monkey when he was in the cell/cage we finally found to contain him (fun). H washed his cage every week herself, carried him in her little robe pocket and they watched TV together, had mad fun with him in the ball (ooops - a couple trips down the stairs). 15 months later s/he was dead. Not one visit to do anything for funky teeth however there were histrionics upon her (his?) demise. But it is done and was worth it. You can survive it - I promise.

  2. We have a snake, and he's okay. But gerbils have short life spans - I attended a gerbil funeral last year, complete with despondent children. Fun.


  3. I'm wondering if hamsters suffer the same likelihood of epilepsy b/c we've lost 2 hamsters in the past year to unexpected "strokes"? But I gotta admit, we loved these little guys while they were around. I recommend the hamster over the gerbil b/c I'd heard gerbils were more aggressive. We've had great luck with 3 hamsters so far (though none has lived beyond 15 months!)

  4. Aleigh, I a 100% with you! We have two big german shepherds that would eat any pet smaller than them that enters this house. This is how I get away with no other creatures here. Had the bat he wasn't invited was so disgusting. I can handle most animals, but rodents and snakes just will not do! Thanks for the chuckle!!