Monday, November 22, 2010

Some gerbils, a Canon 7D....and a photo shoot?!

Cheerio (left) and Charley (right)
Well, maybe not exactly a photo shoot.  More like my morning coffee with the boys hopping around the couch to have their fun for the day!  Only the 7D and me with two cups of coffee can keep up with them!

I've been trying to grab a few more photos of the little guys recently.  I was pretty busy in October and November (and I was also sick for a few weeks), so I wasn't taking a lot of photos.  I decided to try and get some nice pictures of them a few weeks ago.

Both of them are doing well.  Their personalities have now fully exposed themselves since they're getting a little older.  Charley has remained reserved and cautious, but still very curious.  Cheerio went from being fairly normal to being pretty nutty.  In fact, he's almost like two different gerbils.  During the day he's his normal bouncy, energetic, overly curious self.   But it's the weirdest thing....When the sun goes down, he turns into a total nut!  When we take the lid off the cage at night he jumps right onto the edge of the tank and waits to be taken out.  When he's out, he's very jumpy and overly energetic, almost to the point where we've had to stop taking him out at night because he's too hyper and we don't want to have an accident.  We'll see how this develops over the next few months.  Maybe he'll settle down...

Speaking of accidents...I have quite the story to share here.  Back in October, Charley got a broken tooth and a cold.  Seeing that the cold wasn't going away and he wasn't eating normally because of his tooth (and was losing weight quickly), I decided to take him to the vet.  I wasn't quite sure what else to do about it because he wasn't getting better and I certainly didn't want the little guy to die.

When I brought him in to be checked, the vet who I met with gave me medicine for his cold (which has long since cleared up) and a pain killer so he wouldn't feel pain when he tried to eat while his tooth grows back.  Thankfully, the tooth has indeed grown back.

I was satisfied with this portion of my visit to the vet because the issues of the cold and the tooth were resolved and treated properly.  However, something much more significant occurred that was very strange.

When Charley was brought back out to the front of the office after his examination, I noticed that he had a very bad limp on his left rear leg and he wasn’t stepping on his foot at all.  It’s important to note that he was showing absolutely no signs of pain or limping prior to me bringing him into the vet.  In fact, before I left the house to go there, he was running vigorously on his exercise wheel and he was being handled and walking with no limp.

When I questioned the vet about why he was suddenly limping after his examination, she said to me that occasionally gerbils and other small animals could have a pre-existing broken bone in their body from a fall and they hide the pain from it.  She said the act of a vet then handling this animal would irritate the injury to the point that the animal would be in severe pain and would then begin to limp.

This sounded odd to me, so I questioned the vet on this and said that it sounded completely absurd to me that an animal could have a broken bone and be running on a wheel and being handled daily without showing any signs of pain or injury whatsoever.  He’s out of his cage playing an average of an hour every day and showed no signs of a problem.  She insisted that it must be a pre-existing break, and since I felt horrible for this little animal, I told her to go ahead with the x-ray that she was suggesting just to confirm a break.

Cheerio (a Giants fan!)
After the x-ray, the vet came out and told me that Charley did indeed have a broken leg.  Still finding these circumstances unbelievable, I told her to go ahead and splint it up because the poor little guy was now limping terribly.

Shortly after this all happened, I spoke with two other vets and received feedback from many gerbil breeders who all said that it’s extremely unlikely that Charley had a pre-existing broken bone and was showing no signs of pain or injury at all.  In fact, when I told one of them that he was running on a wheel shortly before this disaster, he said it seemed extremely strange to him that Charley would be able to do that with a broken leg.

To make a long story somewhat shorter, I had a discussion with the vet and told her that I brought a gerbil with no leg pain and no leg injury into her office and I left with a huge bill and an animal with a broken leg.  I can’t say what happened in the examination room that might have caused this, but something happened.

The vet denied any wrong doing and stuck with her original response that he had a broken leg when he came in.  I was pretty angry at this point and asked for my money back for the portion of my bill related to the broken leg.  There was no way she was going to give it to me because that would be admitting guilt.  She did, however, offer to waive her fees if I wanted to bring him back in three weeks to see how he was doing.  Yeah, I'll go back there (he says sarcastically).....

Charley, about to get pounced by his brother!
The moral of the story for pet owners:  Find a vet who will let you go back into the examination room with your animal when you bring them in.  This vet had a policy that the owner could not come into the back during the exam.  I will never do that again, because had I been there, I probably would have seen what happened to Charley.

To end the story on a positive note....Most people I spoke with said that Charley didn't need the splint that the doctor put on (which is good, because he chewed it off anyway) and that his leg would heal fine on its own in a few weeks and he would lead a pain free normal life.  That's exactly what happened.  He's walking perfectly and showing no signs of pain at all.

Cheerio (notice his smile for the picture!)
So it was a pretty traumatic few weeks for my daughter's little gerbil, but she's happy that he's better now and back to his old self.  All's well that ends well....


  1. Hi, Glad Charley is doing fine. LOL! Love cherrio's smile.

  2. Hi Lynne. Thanks. Unfortunately because of all this I have to put off my newest lens purchase for a little while...the vet bill was HUGE and I have no money left! But, as long as Charley is OK now, that's what counts. Santa is coming soon and might bring me the new lens then! ;-)

  3. I would have been insulted that the original vet would think I was that stupid to accept such an absurd explanation. WOW....glad he's OK, cute pics!!!! (Did Santa bring your lens?)