Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Meet the Naked Soled Gerbils


This is Shran, one of my three naked soled gerbils (Tatera indica). They are the size of a small rat, have huge eyes (they are nocturnal) and indeed naked feet. You probably know Mongolian gerbils - what most people mean when they say gerbil, but there are a lot more species in that family, it's a very diverse group.

Naked soled gerbils were imported in some numbers a few years ago, but they don't make really good pets. They are very shy, need a lot of room and it's almost impossible to handle them. I cannot touch mine at all and that is perfectly normal for the species. They are extremely curious and always come looking when I'm in the room, but when I come close with my hands, they run.
A friend of mine got their parents when the veterinary department along with several animal rescue organisations cleared out the apartment of an animal hoarder. Six of the gerbils were kept in a 20 gallon tank (but at least they had water, unlike many other animals there...many were already dead and had been for quite a while).

Of course the females were pregnant and my friend ended up with a fairly big group, the males were neutered and re-introduced to the females. I took them in when my friend had to move from her house to an apartment after breaking up with her partner. The gerbils live in a homemade cage measuring 7x2x3 ft long, wide and high. Only three are left now and they may well be the only naked soled gerbils in Germany. Considering how ill-suited they are for being kept as pets, I don't see that as much of a problem, although I do wonder what I am going to do with the last gerbil when the time comes.
Captain Archer
Doctor Phlox - he's missing his tail. Their parents started to groom each other so heavily that they lost part of their fur and the children learned that behaviour along with gnawing on each other's tails. They stopped the tail gnawing now, but the razoring still continues, although it has gotten less after they got used to their new home. At least I can tell them apart. They were named for characters from Star Trek Enterprise.

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