CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Lifestyle

May 5, 2013

Gerbils strut their stuff at New England pageant

BEDFORD, MASS. — The American Gerbil Society’s annual pageant brought dozens of rodents scurrying to New England this weekend for a chance to win “top gerbil.”

The Bedford competition called for agility demonstrations in which the gerbils must overcome obstacles and race to the end of a course. Breeders of the small animals vie for coveted ribbons based on body type and agility.

“A male gerbil should be a good, strong, hefty-looking gerbil,” said Libby Hanna, president of the American Gerbil Society. “If you are going to think of it in human terms, you might think of a football player — somebody who’s big, thick neck, nice, strong-looking male gerbil.”

An ideal female gerbil will have a more streamlined appearance that even humans covet, she said.

“So she would be strong and athletic-looking — not really scrawny, but slim,” said Hanna, who serves as a judge in the show. “I usually use a figure skater as my mental image or gymnasts — so obviously a gymnast is not necessarily a big, big woman, but she’s gonna be strong, muscular and athletic.”

The Friday-Saturday show drew gerbil enthusiasts and breeders from around the country and culminates in the presentation of champion and breeder certificates.

Fourteen-year-old Sarah Kaden from Bordentown, N.J., thinks gerbils have great personalities.

“Even though they are so little, they are very different from each other and they smell a lot less than my brother’s hamsters,” she said Friday.

That sentiment is not surprising since the small, furry and inquisitive creatures look cute when they nibble on their food, stand on their hind feet or scurry around their environment.

Gerbils are perfect pets for modern families as they don’t require to be taken out for a walk, could easily fit in a small apartment and their tanks only need to be cleaned about once a week.

Still, some people freak out when they visit friends and see gerbils in the home.

“I’ve had a couple of people come to my house that actually didn’t know that I had gerbils. They were sort of freaked out, but I just told them that it was OK, they stay in their tanks, there was nothing to worry about,” said Diane Nott who traveled from Elyria, Ohio, to compete in the show.

Gerbils thrive in desert habitats and their growing popularity as pets led authorities in California and Hawaii to make it illegal to keep them since the weather there would make it possible for escaping animals to flourish in wild colonies that would damage crops and native plants.

At the New England show, each animal undergoes a health check. Inspectors look at the whiskers, teeth and mouths and check to ensure the rodents have no runny noses, bugs, loss of fur on their tails or other signs of health problems.

Donna Anastasi of Waltham got hooked on gerbils after buying them for her daughters when they were younger.

“Anyone can buy a $12 gerbil and get into the sport of gerbil showing or gerbil agility,” said Anastasi, who is also vice president of the American Gerbil Society. “It’s very fun ... easy and affordable and something you can do with your kids.”

 

1
Text Only
Lifestyle
  • BRIA Pet of the week: Bria needs a forever home

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • HP historic schools 1 Holly Pond’s historic schools

    Anyone who has ever traveled through the countryside in and around Holly Pond knows why a settlement was built there.

    April 13, 2014 5 Photos

  • SOUTHERN STYLE: City kid walking

    I may sound like a farm kid, and in truth, I did spend a lot of time on my grandparents’ Landersville farm, but I wasn’t a farm kid — I was a city kid.

    April 13, 2014

  • HUCKABEE Pet of the week: Huckabee needs a forever home

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stepping forward: The real Colbert

    Letterman changed the late-night TV game between his run on NBC's "Late Night" and starting the "Late Show" franchise in 1993. And while it's tough to replace a pop-culture icon, Colbert, in terms of pedigree and sense of humor, makes the most sense.

    April 11, 2014

  • VIDEO: CBS taps Colbert as Letterman’s Late Show successor

    Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman reports that CBS has announced Stephen Colbert as its choice to replace the retiring David Letterman as host of “The Late Show” on Bloomberg Television’s “Lunch Money.”

     

    April 10, 2014

  • 2 pics.jpg Accomplished vocalists to perform at Wallace State April 22

    Two amazing vocalists will perform on Tuesday, April 22 at Wallace State Community College as part of the college’s annual Arts in April celebration.
    Mezzo-soprano Maggie Gill and Tenor Shane Bloemetjie will each sing a selection of operatic and/or musical theater tunes as they perform, accompanied on piano by Mike Sparks, chair of the WSCC’s humanities department and a music instructor at the college. They will be performing arias by Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini, and songs by George Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim and others.
     

    April 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • Food page EASTER DINING: Decorating for the Easter table

    Easter is just around the corner and just happens to be one of my favorite holidays.

    April 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • WSCC Vest to perform.jpg Award-winning pianist to perform April 15 at Wallace State

    Lovers of classical piano can hear one of the best pianists in the state on Tuesday, April 15, as Katherine Vest is set to perform at Wallace State Community College.
    Vest is a junior piano performance major at Samford University and studies with Ron Shinn. She recently earned first place in the Alabama Federated Music Clubs Auditions and she previously won first prize in the Alabama Music Teacher’s Association and Birmingham Music Club auditions. At Samford, she is a recipient of the Miller-Shepherd scholarship for outstanding piano students.
     

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • CANDYLAND Pet of the week: Candyland needs a forever home

    Cullman County Animal Shelter Adoption hours are 9 – 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the shelter.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

Facebook
AP Video