Friday night I woke to the kids standing in my doorway, crying for us to wake up. It was pitch black still – 2:45 a.m. As my eyes adjusted I saw that Ninja Boy was holding something in his gloved hands (glow-in-the-dark, no less!). He was crying, saying “Something’s wrong with Blackie!”
All I could get into my brain was that it was 2:45 a.m. and the children were awake – in my room. By the time I realized that a rodent fit into that equation, The Man was already up and on his way downstairs.
He came back with the news that something horrible had happened to two and a half of our gerbil’s legs and he died. He didn’t offer any more information and I quit asking.
The next morning the kids woke and remembered what had gone on the night before. I was still hung up on the fact that they were awake at that time.
Ninja Boy said he woke up and could only hear the clock ticking, so he was worried about the gerbils. I still find that hard to believe, but I’d rather believe that than some of the other things I came up with. That wheel is a pretty incessant sound in our house – or was.
I tried my best to grief counsel the kids. The problem is that they SAW him...gnawed legs and all (I want to throw up just thinking about it!). I, thankfully, didn’t see it.
They were pretty mad at the other gerbil, Princess, thinking she attacked him. I don’t think she’s guilty. I did a lot of internet searching this weekend and found it is common for stuff like this to happen to baby gerbils – when the mother feels inferior to or incapable of caring for them. Blackie and Princess came from the same Petco aquarium. They had lived in the same cage together for just over a year. From everything that I’ve read, this kind of thing doesn’t just happen.
Blackie was the ‘tortured soul’ of the pair. Princess was always friendly while Blackie was skittish. We also nursed Blackie back to health not too long ago from some kind of illness we couldn’t diagnose – but one of his legs was affected by it.
My theory: He mutilated himself.
Gross, sure. How else do you explain this??
Princess has been standing in the bare part of her cage - just standing, shaking. It won’t be long before she freezes to death herself. They are supposed to burrow into the bedding to keep warm when they sleep, but she won’t move. She misses her sister. (Yes, Blackie was actually a girl – I didn’t need any babies and it’s super easy to lie about their sex.)
I would love to give her another companion so she isn’t scared and lonely. The thing is that I didn’t care for the gerbils. We went to Petco that day to get the kids FISH. How we ended up with rodents is something I don’t remember well. $150 dollars and three months later and the only time the kids wanted to show them any attention was when they had friends over. Then, they would put them in cardboard boxes and stow them in their rooms (yes, cardboard!). Or make them play in the Barbie house. Cleaning the cage was a nightmare. We tried to have the kids do most of it, but it resulted in the gerbil mess reaching even further than the family room. We ended up ‘reclaiming’ the gerbils as OUR pets – meaning it was solely up to The Man to clean the cage and the kids weren’t allowed to touch them (or squeeze them to near death trying to make them lie down in Barbie’s bed).
I’ve been inactively trying to find them a new home since. We are only home for about three hours a day and it was a plain mistake to think the kids could fit such a time-consuming pet into their schedules. Fish, on the other hand…
So, now I’m left with trying to find a new home for ONE gerbil. I don’t think she’ll make it long enough to put an ad in the paper. Craigslist doesn’t accept animals. I’m at a loss. My mom suggested that I call the school and see if any teachers would like a classroom pet. Do they still do that?? I really need help!
In the meantime, let’s have a moment of silence for the dearly departed…