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Immortal gerbils?

(27 Posts)
QuiteQuietly Thu 09-Oct-14 10:44:28

We were "gifted" two male gerbils over 4.5 years ago (by Grandma for the children when Grandad died as some sort of weird compensation hmm). Google claims they live for 3 years. I'm trying hard not to wish them away, but no one particularly likes them, they smell and make a mess, cleaning them out is tricky (just catching them is a job of work) and they are just another thing to think about. I have 3 young-ish DC, a full-time job and an incapacited DH - we wouldn't choose to have pets as we cannot give them proper attention or care. I am doing my best for these creatures - they are our responsibility, and didn't ask to live with us. I'm not sure about the ethics of the second-hand gerbil market, and it would probably upset Grandma, so they are probably here for the rest of their natural lives. But any ideas how long that may be?

FernieB Thu 09-Oct-14 12:08:43

At 4.5 I would guess they are on borrowed time now.

Once they have departed, please try to make it clear to Grandma that you don't want any more pets just in case she thinks they would need replacing.

EvansOvalPiesYumYum Thu 09-Oct-14 12:13:05

A gerbil's life is normally around the 3-yr mark. We had one that lived for a bit more than four. At 4.5 yours won't be around for much longer.

They are great pets, if that's what you want (I love them). If not, then they are probably a nuisance. Well done to you for looking after them under duress! flowers

DayLillie Thu 09-Oct-14 12:18:09

I am surprised they smell - I used to keep mine in an old fish tank, give them a block of wood chips and half a bag of straw and hay, and let them get on with it. They only needed cleaning out every 8-12 weeks.

They are messy though - chuck the stuff everywhere hmm

DayLillie Thu 09-Oct-14 12:20:53

PS I have never got one past 3 years - you are obviously very good at it.

EvansOvalPiesYumYum Thu 09-Oct-14 12:33:33

Agree - they shouldn't smell. Maybe they do because they are now elderly? Old things tend to smell a bit.

I did used to clean ours out every week, so they only ever smelled of fresh sawdust. I'm sure they would have starting to pong if they'd only been cleaned out after 8+ weeks.

EvansOvalPiesYumYum Thu 09-Oct-14 12:34:20

started !!!

SirChenjin Thu 09-Oct-14 12:43:41

I don't think they will be around for much longer - they live between 2-4 years apparently. I feel your pain though - we have the Yoda of the guinea pig world, currently in his 8th year of doing nothing but eating and sleeping, and not showing any sign of slowing down. The kids lost interest about 4 years ago, so his maintenance falls to me. Oh joy.

VeryPunny Thu 09-Oct-14 12:54:04

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but we had a gerbil that went for the best part of 7 years - from my last year in primary school to 6th form. She wasn't particularly smelly though.

EvansOvalPiesYumYum Thu 09-Oct-14 12:58:42

Seven years!!!!! Wowee - that must be some sort of record!!

SirChen - I feel your pain! We have (rescue) rabbits in a similar situation. Took them to the vets just last week, they are in perfect health, apparently! (Much to DP's dismay). I proudly announced how well they are doing, he retorted "Oh, that's a shame". angry

I love them, that's all that counts grin They may be here for another five or six years (He gets annoyed because they chuff up his precious stupid lawn - pah)

EvansOvalPiesYumYum Thu 09-Oct-14 12:59:44

But yes, children lost interest a long time ago, sadly

DayLillie Thu 09-Oct-14 13:15:38

No they don't smell, even after 8 weeks - plenty of bedding and a big tank. Believe me, plenty people would have told me if they had. They don't produce a lot of wee and dry poo - desert animals. The main reason for cleaning them out was the bedding was shredded beyond usefulness, and they could no longer tunnel through it.

I did take on someone's unwanted litter of 18mth old male roboruski hamsters and they really did smell. Like the cheese out of 'Three Men in a Boat'. All pervasive. They had to be shut in another room, as even cleaning them out did not help. Fortunately, they have a much shorter lifespan, so I did not have to bury them on a beach in a sea-side town.

SirChenjin Thu 09-Oct-14 14:21:49

<whispers> I won't be very sad when he goes tbh - he's had a good life, and I'm a bit fed up of the mucking out/topping up food and water/listening the constant squeaking whenever I open the fridge door or chop vegs/toenail clipping.

7 years for a gerbil??! Holy Moly!

QuiteQuietly Thu 09-Oct-14 14:27:28

I have to clean them out every week or the smell takes over the whole of upstairs. It has gotten worse as they've got older and if they might live until 7 then I suppose I'll be doing it daily by then (shudder). They get 2/3 of a block of bedding, plus some cardboard for chewing each time. If I give them any more than that it gets chucked out of the cage. As it is they deliberately poo out of the cage onto the floor, which I imagine keeps the bedding nice and clean? They did live on the shelf above my printer until it became clogged with "pellets". MIL is well aware of my hatred for them and selfishly refuses to keep them when we are away "because they make a mess". There was a lot going on when she gave them to us (DH ill, FIL recently dead) so it was harder to turn them away when they turned up - if she tries it again, they will be firmly turned away. But it sounds like the buggers will outlive her (and us all). There should be some sort of pet present law - new MN campaign I think.

Thanks for reassurance folks!

Italiangreyhound Thu 09-Oct-14 14:36:44

Don't know if this may help......

gerbilforum.proboards.com/thread/19883

We had hamsters not gerbils so I know nothing but I did just wonder about either illness or old age or both concerning smell.

Just my humble opinion but I think it is rather a shame of your relative to saddle you with these animals even if she meant well. Not sure if it is your grandma or your kids' grandma, and if so she may be your mother or mother in law. Of course if she has lost her husband I would not want to upset her. However, when they do eventually 'shuffle off this mortal coil' personally I would make sure (in as nice a way as possible) that you are glad not to have to look after them any more/ or you found them slightly hard work .... so that she does not replace them when they finally go.

Or am I worrying unnecessarily?

Italiangreyhound Thu 09-Oct-14 14:37:41

Make sure that she knows you do not want any more, I mean.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Thu 09-Oct-14 20:45:50

When they do eventually cross The Bridge, get all their equipment out the house.
eBay/Gumtree / anything

Make sure she knows.
"Oh I managed to clean behind the cupboard where the cage used to be " so if she does come to your door with a cardboard box of suspiciously rustly nature, you can push it right back.

WRT daily cleaning Quite - our three guinea-pigs need their Pighouse bedding changed daily, they are messy but not stinky. 'Tis a labour of love smile

QuiteQuietly Thu 09-Oct-14 21:02:42

Italiangreyhound Good lord, a gerbil forum! People really will talk about anything with strangers. Not sure what a dustbath involves, but will look into it. Any advice? Or do I need to sign up to Gerbilnet? Hopefully it does not involve touching them [shudder].

70isaLimit I will not be accepting any more livestock from MIL or anyone else. I was caught in a moment of weakness and compassion; these days I am As Cold As Ice and Hard As Nails. I have no soft centre.

Italiangreyhound Thu 09-Oct-14 23:59:42

It's very hard when a loved one dies and leaves a pet.

My mother struggled with my dad's cat, he really was dad's pet and not mum's! After my dad died mum could not bear to part with the cat because she felt it was her duty to care for the cat. However, she was scared of it (it was not a very nice cat) and whenever it meowed she fed it. It was getting bigger and bigger!

So my sis took the cat to a rescue centre and they took him and said they would re-home him. They said, after you sign him over to us we cannot give him back! My sister must have smiled, excellent news.

Pets really are hard work, and you need to love them to do the work but you are doing a good job in the absence of love for them!

Hope it works out.

No idea what a dust bath is!

QuiteQuietly Thu 05-Feb-15 20:04:30

The fuckers are still going. Five years. <sigh>

70isaLimitNotaTarget Thu 05-Feb-15 21:14:03

Aww Bless Them grin

DH was musing that once our guinea-pigs go To The Bridge , he'd like a cat/two cats.

Our dear moggie was 17 when she died (actually I made the difficult decision to have her PTS )
We have no provision for a cat flap ( glass french doors) , DH said "Leave it with me"

Nope. No cats.

fortifiedwithtea Fri 06-Feb-15 10:33:27

Crikey! I was sure this update was going to say the gerbils were pushing up the daisies wink

Well done OP, they are going to make the Guiness Book of World Records grin

girliefriend Sat 07-Feb-15 15:56:12

we had a gerbil that lived for 5 years but then had a stroke (I assume) and died quite suddenly. Our past 2 gerbils have made lived for between 2 - 3 years which is more typical. I think the less they are bothered and handled the longer they live for!!

ThereIsACarInTheKitchen Wed 18-Feb-15 20:43:42

Apparently the oldest gerbil lived to be 8 years old. Maybe they're trying to break the record wink.

QuiteQuietly Wed 24-Jun-15 12:02:38

Breaking news - we are one down. I think some cannibalism - he was missing half of his head and the other one was looking shifty.

If, as girliefriend wrote, the less bothered and handled the longer they live, then that probably explains their longevity. Removing the deceased today was the third time I have touched them physically, and the first time I have done so with intent. No one else goes near them.

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