My mom is an animal lover. Growing up, we always had between 10 and 20 pets in the house at any given time including cats, dogs, birds, fish, miniature ponies (if my mom ran this blog, she would absolutely have an entry on that decision), rabbits, snakes, hamsters, and gerbils. In general, our suburban home was a peaceful place for these critters to frolic. However, for the gerbils, it was a death camp.
It started with two gerbils that were given to my mom by a coworker. When she gave them to me I excitedly propped the cage up on the desk in my room, played with them for a couple hours, and went to sleep dreaming of the elaborate tube system I’d build for them. I awoke eager to spend the day with my gerbil friends, but all I found was a brown, severed tail and four very smug cats.
My mom figured it was worth $20 not to hear her daughter keep wailing and so took me to a pet store to buy two new gerbils. Along with the replacement gerbils, we bought a lock for the cage door to keep out bloodthirsty felines. I named them and spent the night building them a miniature jungle gym out of paper towel rolls.
I awoke the next morning to find another scene from The Gerbil Godfather. Apparently my cats are natural burglars and understand basic locks. I was confused but my mom was horrified. She tried to convince me that maybe gerbils were just not a good idea. But no! I needed them. I was determined now. I would defeat my cats and I would have these wood chip dwelling animals!
So another set of doomed gerbils came home with us, along with a heavy-duty glass tank. I monitored my cats closely. I stayed up all night guarding my new pets and trying to catch the cats at work. When I saw them trying to claw through the cage’s mesh roof in the night, I reinforced it with a metal plate, books, and other protective objects. Despite their efforts, I had finally won! I was so pleased with myself, I went back to the pet store and bought more gerbils for the tank. It was only a matter of time till I’d complete my tube civilization, after all.
But the cats waited. And watched. Each night the feline murderers would visit my new friends, scheming a way to get through. Two weeks without a murder and I was confident enough to sleep with the cats in the room. It’s not like they could do anything without opposable thumbs, those chumps!
I awoke with a crash to see the shattered glass tank on the floor with all four cats running off, each with one or more gerbils in their fangs. Because of the weight, I can only assume they had to work together to push the tank off the desk. And so the Great Gerbil Massacre of my childhood finally convinced me that maybe gerbils just weren’t going to work out.
Unfortunately, that did not stop me from getting a hamster. RIP, my short-lived little buddy.