Monday, October 11, 2010

Charley and Cheerio - An October update

Cheerio (at left, with the white racing stripe on his nose) and Charley (below) have settled into their new home nicely.  They're now three months old and seem to be growing quickly.  I should have measured them when we got them, but I would guess that they've grown 1/2 inch since we got them.  We've had them for about a month and handle them a lot each day, and I think that has paid off in the fact that they're used to us now.

By the way, no, I'm not squeezing them in these photos to hold them still.  Don't worry.  Our little guys like to be carried around secure in the palm of our hands while they stick their head out the "window" to see where they're going. 

They know me the best at this point because I handle them the most each day and also assist the kids with getting them in and out of the cage.  I've explained to the kids the importance for this first month or two of not putting their hands in the cage, getting impatient when trying to pick them up, and chasing the gerbils around the cage.  This is the equivalent of invading their home, and they'll NEVER get friendly and tame that way.  The kids understand, and for the most part have been patient with the process of familiarizing themselves with the gerbils.

We had one set back two weeks ago when I think we handled them a little too much over the course of two days in particular when it was raining one weekend and we were inside spending a lot of time with them.  They then seemed to go backward in their comfort level with us and hid in the cage when we came in the next day or two.  We took it easy for a few days after that, hit the reset button with how we handle them, and everything is fine now.

At this point in time, they always come out to investigate when we put our hands in the cage.  This is good.  They sniff us, hop on and off our hands, come back and sniff us more, etc.  No objections to us.  At night, Cheerio is particularly adventurous and will readily run up your arm to your shoulder to say hi and get out of the cage for a visit.  Or, if you just leave the lid off the cage then he climbs on top of his nest box and hops up to sit on the edge and waits patiently for you to pick him up.  He never does this during the day though.  Only at night.  Interesting...

Charley is much more reserved than Cheerio.  For example, I think it will be quite a while (if ever) before Charley is bold enough to walk up our arms to get out of the cage.   He'll certainly never jump up on the edge and sit their waiting like Cheerio.  It's just not his deal.  You kind of have to put both hands into the cage, cup Charley, and take him out that way.  Cheerio is bold and adventurous.  Charley is more cautious and reserved.  Two different gerbils, two different personalities....

Watching the two of them play together outside of the cage is very funny and it's a good "zen" thing to enjoy after a busy day.  They run all around the bathroom floor with the door closed, wrestle with each other, eat out of your hands, etc.  Today I had them on the floor and they kept coming over to check me out.  I would play wrestle with them, ruffle up their fur, etc.  Very gently so they know that I'm not trying to hurt them.  They would run away for a second and then come back to my hands for more "wrestling" with me.  They seem to like it because when I stop they just sit there looking at my hands like they're waiting for more.  Funny...

They're both steady and confident enough to ride around the house on my shoulder if I move gently.  Of course I keep my hands ready if they decide to slide down the front of my shirt for a more steady ride on my hands.  I don't let the kids do this (yet) though.  The kids still sometimes move too quickly or make sudden movements, and we don't want the gerbils to jump off.

I switched to using a standard 8" wire mesh wheel today that can be purchased at any pet store.  I had originally purchased a solid surface wheel, but our gerbils designated their wheel as one of their bathroom spots.  Needless to say that I didn't think it was too sanitary to pee on their wheel and then run on it.  This resulted in pee spinning all over the wheel and them, so out that went.  If they pee on this wheel it will drop straight through to the bottom of the cage and no harm is done to anyone.

So, that's the latest update on the boys....More to come in the future!

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