Gratitude makes the journey better and so does kindness

A House Mouse Named River

I have a gerbil running around the house the way others have cats and dogs. She’s a gerbil and she’s been ours since May of last year because her former owners grew tired of having her for a pet. A lonely misunderstood pet. Gerbil whisperer I am not but I admit to always jumping to save yet another creature in distress, big or tiny.

A caged gerbil seemed salvageable material. Now, to clarify, I never had a taste for imprisonment of animals – I would abolish zoos without a second thought, and I mean zoos, not national parks or rehabilitation shelters – but felt too sorry for the poor mini-rat to not adopt her. So I said yes and the boys rejoiced. I replaced the cage with a fish tank, got some nice bedding and decided to leave out the gerbil doughnuts forever. There is such a thing, I am not making this up and yes, I know how wrong it is, I thought the same when I was handed the bag by the previous owners. We also changed her name from Chopper to River hoping to curb her biting habits. One could hope, right?

The boys and I taught her how to dig tunnels in the new bedding and she happily did that for a while. Then she started digging with a vengeance hoping to get out of the cage. For hours that is. Like I said, never agreed to imprisonment of animals and felt guilty to be the one inflicting it.

I know, she’s a bit of a rat, a glorified rat as I affectionately call her but still, a teeny creature with a will to live and be free, although one could argue that she has no clue about what that is having lived her whole life in one cage or another.

So one day, a month ago or so, she won the gerbil lottery.

She was free to run around the house. Another option would have been to free her into the woods but we thought of her future as owl snack and shuddered. For an hour she was free to roam. It became a whole afternoon soon after and once I realized she’s fit for that kind of life and clean enough for the recovering germophobe me, the decision was made.

She chewed on a few things she was not supposed to including Sasha’s soft red ball which we painted with my acrylic colors but could not erase the sorry look. She hid so well and for long enough that we had to move furniture to make sure she’s still alive. Aside from that I cannot fault her much. Her new home is behind the fridge, she comes when I call and hand her food, she drinks water from a tiny bowl painted with Chinese characters and lets me pet her while she eats. Seeking company is not what I would call typical gerbil behavior but that’s what she does. All in all, a jolly apparition unless you have a small rodent-phobia.

There, you now know the truth. We have a tame gerbil who knows her name and likes waffles, banana bread and is a sucker for kiwi. Literally.


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  1. Enjoyed your post. Animals are pretty amazing!

    • Thank you, Graciela, they really are. This is quite a new thing for me, I have to say, but the cute factor is so high we’re all happy with the running house mouse.

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