Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com

Meet the Gerbils

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(Be sure to check out the video at the end of the post!)

You guys remember little Milo, right?

Meet the Gerbils | TheNavagePatch.com

He won our hearts back in the early summer.

But try as he might, he was just too weak to pull through, and he died shortly after we rescued him. We laid him to rest in the ground near the rose bush.

He was only with us for a short time, but his impact was huge. The very next weekend after he passed into the Great Wheel of Cheese in the Sky, Handan announced that we would get another mouse.

So off to the pet stores we went.

We found one or two, here and there, but none grabbed us like little Milo had.

We went home empty-handed, and in the car, Handan started to research small pets.

She looked at rats and rabbits and took a gander at a guinea pig.

Then she saw a hamster.

“Hey babes? What if we got a couple of hamsters?” She said.

I had already done my research. Besides, I’d had one when I wore very small sneakers and Wrangler corduroy jeans. His name was Rontu and he liked to cruise around the carpet in a yellow translucent sphere.

“I had a hamster when I was a kid. They like to be alone.” I said. Rontoo was a badass. He was a loner. He was a rebel. “But all my friends had gerbils.”

“What the heck is a gerbil?” Handan said.

“Woman, you have the sum of all human knowledge at your fingertips! Google it!” I said.

She typed the letters into the search bar and then hit enter.

The first picture flashed before her eyes, and she was smitten.

“Oh I love them, my babes! This is what we’re getting!” She said.

So we searched all around our area, but no one carried gerbils!

What was this madness!

We had to travel an hour to find a shop with gerbils, but we found three perfect pets – a black one, a white one and a spotted one.

There was just one problem. The black one was a male and the other two were females.

In no time, we’d be overrun with gerbils!

So we swapped out the male for another white female, bought a reptile cage, stocked up on food and bedding material and toys and headed home.

Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com

We’d watched videos on gerbil care, so we had an idea of the habitat we wanted to create for them.

Handan got to work. We used some of the stuff we bought, and Handan found wicker baskets in the basement.

In no time, she had the habitat up and running.

Meet the Gerbils | TheNavagePatch.com

Our new family members loved it!

Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com

They needed names, so we each picked one to be “ours,” and we each thought of a name.

Handan took the largest white one – she was the friendliest and the mellowest of all. She named her Miley, which I later lengthened to Miley Papyrus.

Barish chose the spotted gerbil and named her Spotty.

I chose the little albino with the red eyes. I named her Miss Penelope Isabel Beauregard, or Miss Pib for short.

Penny took an immediate interest in the gerbils. She knew a good meal when she saw it.

Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com

Pepper was too short to notice at first. Her gimpy back leg prevents her from standing up, so she had no idea we had a cage full of snacks until late the next day.

But Penny was beside herself.

Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com

Here are our girls. Miss Pib on the left playing in the bowl of chinchilla powder, Spotty up top and Miley resting on the right. Miley is the mother of the other two.

Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com

And for a couple of weeks, this was life.

But then we noticed Miley was getting big.

And she ate a lot.

And she slept a lot.

But these were all females…

And then I remembered what the girl at the pet store had told me.

“These females have been living with a male, so there is a chance that one of them could be pregnant. You can always bring the babies back to us if you don’t want them.”

Not too long after we noticed she was pregnant, Miley gave birth.

Barish discovered it one morning. I though it was too short a pregnancy, so I didn’t believe him. But he insisted he was hearing tiny little squeaks coming from the pile of bedding. The gerbils love to burrow and sleep underground, so we hadn’t seen Miley in a while.

He was right. Later that day, we caught a glimpse of one of the babies.

Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com

We counted three new members of the tribe, though it was hard to pin them down. Not only did Miley keep moving them here and there, but Miss Pib (occasionally) and Spotty (frequently) stepped in to help Miley.

About a day later, we looked again and noticed that there were actually four babies.

Okay, four was good!

And then that night we had another look.

“Hey babes!” I said. “There are more! There are SIX babies!”

“Oh my god, really?” Handan said. She had grown to love these gerbils more than I ever would have thought her capable. “Oh, that is just awesome, my babes!”

Her glee was infectious, and soon we were all jumping for joy at the 6 new mouths to feed.

Nine gerbils in one cage, though.

When they were old enough to carry, we’d have to load them all into a box and bring them to the store to determine the babies’ genders. Any males would have to go in a separate cage. Handan wasn’t about to lose any of her gerbils, nor was she going to separate mother from children.

Soon enough, the little ones grew hair.

Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com
Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com

But they still wandered around blind.

Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com
Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com
Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com
Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com

Even blind, they managed to find the water bottle!

Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com
Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com

After about five weeks, we loaded them into a plastic tub and drove back to the pet store.

Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com

To our surprise and joy, we learned that Miley had birthed six females! Now we could get another cage and connect them together!

We bought the cage and more tubing, and then Handan engineered the tunnel system.

Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com

It took a about 20 minutes for our little girls to figure out how to get back and forth, and since then, they’ve been loving their new home.

Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com

Miley was the matriarch – the mother of all eight other gerbils. This fall, she started to show her age.

She grew hunched in the back.

She slowed down.

She ate a lot and slept even more.

She became friendlier. She would happily sit on our hands and lick our fingertips.

After a time, she closed her eyes, and wandered around sightless, though she seemed at peace and happy.

And then a few days later, we couldn’t find her. She didn’t come out for dinner.

I already had a feeling that morning about it, so I put on some latex gloves and started gently sifting through the bedding.

I found her little body in the sleeping burrow. She was curled up on her side with her eyes closed, as peaceful as if she were taking a little midday siesta.

I called Handan over. Miley was her special girl.

There may have been a few tears involved.

Handan cleaned her and wrapped her in a small cloth.

We took her outside. It was a raw pre-winter day.

I dug a hole with my hands next to the rose bush, and we laid Miley to rest next to Milo.

But life goes on, and our other girls scarcely took notice that their mother was gone.

There is something about these little animals that brings more joy than one would expect. I’m always amazed at how Handan has taken to them.

She loves them fiercely.

Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com

They can be a pain in the ass – they pee and poop all over the cage, they destroy anything not made of metal, they bang around anything not tied down – but they are sweet little things, and we love having them.

That’s Miss Pib (her nickname is Pibs) pictured above and below, and she likes nothing more than to try to engineer her next escape.

Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com

She’s done it twice so far.

Once she got out because I left the top off the cage, thinking there’s no way they could get out, and even then, they were so high up, there’s no way they’d be able to get to the floor.

But my Pibs is a jerk.

She found a way.

One night as Handan and I watched TV, the dogs went nuts and started chasing around what Handan thought was a bone. She thought they had kicked the bone under the sofa (because she had seen a flash of white from the corner of her eye) and were fighting over who would get it first.

I went to investigate.

And then I saw the “bone” scoot across the floor and into a corner.

I leaped on the dogs and scooted them outside as Pibs bolted from the corner and headed into the dining room.

I called all hands on deck, and we initiated a search of the ground floor, but we found nothing!

Where the hell had she gone?

Desperate, I started down the basement stairs and found the little white jerk on the landing halfway down the stairs.

I picked her up and put her back in her home. She seemed equal parts relieved and pissed that I had ended her adventure.

Another time, we came home at night from dinner and Handan saw her wandering around the kitchen. She had escaped through the smallest of openings at the top of the cage (since closed).

Thank god we kept the dogs locked in the laundry room while we were gone!

Because of their constant noise and destruction and shenanigans, Handan has renamed them jerkballs instead of gerbils.

The name definitely fits!

Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com

But we love our jerkballs, and we wouldn’t have them any other way.

Meet the Gerbils | How to create the perfect house for gerbils | What to have in a perfect gerbil cage | #TheNavagePatch #gerbilcage #howto #gerbilcare | TheNavagePatch.com

Handan even asked me to make two custom consoles for their cages. You can see how I made these rustic console tables here.

Meanwhile, watch the video below if you haven’t already to see our jerkballs in action.

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17 Comments

  1. Awwww I’m sorry to hear about Milo and little mommy Miley <3 It's always so sad when that happens. Your gerbils are too cute. Two Christmases ago we bought my Mom an Abyssinian guinea pig and I can't even begin to tell you how that little furry creature changed my Mom's life. She's in an old age home and struggles to walk after she had a stroke. Ally McBeal is her life. Well Ally's name has since evolved to Fish Moth for some strange reason 😀 Anyhows, the Fish Moth will sit on my Mom's shoulder and they'll watch TV together and the whole lounge has been converted into one huge ass guinea pig Disney world. I have to show her your video. She'll love it too bits. She's heard so much about you guys. Thanks for sharing your new family members and very "almost" happy New Year

  2. Oh no, once you start with adorable little critters, they can take over. Soon you’ll be building custom habitats and mixing your own food.

    Cute little buggers, though, ain’t they? We can’t have them (or hamsters or chinchillas) here because someone learned after the whole rabbit thing. I’m a rabbit guy – got a little floppy-eared house bunny that causes trouble. I always say no more but I see their little faces and I’m suckered good and proper.

    1. Jay, there’s nothing Handan wouldn’t do for these little, jerks, lol! Yeah, we know all about your little rabbit problem down under. Funny that they’re still allowed as pets. But I guess the damage is done and the rabbit’s out of the bag, so to speak 🙂

  3. Great ?, reminds me of my friend Mr. Arnold. He was a gerbil I got when I was about 12. I got him from my teacher as a baby. He loved when we went for long time rides. You could see how special he felt watching the world from the safety of my shoulder. As he got older I gave him a old cotton sock boy did he fashion a warm fiber ball for his huddle bed. You couldn’t see him buried in the middle. He was so spoiled but we shared a special bond. I always remember him and wish I could get another. I think they are not allowed in California. Give Ms. Pigs a sock and enjoy watching them make a warm her of it. Thanks for sharing all the neat stuff. Happy Holidays. ps if you are a exercise wheel for them it will cut down on the escaping. They need to be able to run and burn up the high levels of energy they have.

    1. No gerbils in California? Good lord, I got out of there just in time, lol! 🙂 I think I’ll try tossing an old sock in there to see what happens. I feel like it would it would similar to tossing a side of beef to Jaws.

  4. Awesome gerbil habitat!! When you toss that sock in there, you will need to be video taping what happens!! They are now part of your tribe and we’ll need regular updates and videos!!! Y’all have the luckiest gerbils in America!!

  5. Enjoy All your writing but, the bike trip touched close to home…on I-70 to Oak Grove , then South to 50 hwy I live west on 50.
    Next, in one of your posts you shared you used a Canon printer. I made a note of the model number but, can’t retreive it. Could you share again?
    Sorry to have to ask. Again, I love all you share of your Love for each other.and your projects.

  6. Your gerbils are awfully cute! When I was a kid, i wanted a gerbil or a hamster, but my mom said she wasn’t having any rodents in her house. Now our cat would look at them as a buffet so no gerbils here.

  7. Many years ago in California we had gerbils. I had read at one time that they loved to dig and it was fun to give them a home filled with clean dirt or we probably used peat moss to fill an aquarium. From there you could see them dig their tunnels all through it. You might have fun trying it out.