A “Special Needs” Gerbil Finds a Special Home

Last winter, Sharon Migotsky, a long time fan and “mother” to small mammals (currently 2 degus, 1 hamster, and 4 gerbils), found herself following the small animals listed for adoption on the CCHS website.  Even though she already had a number of adopted rodents, her beloved gerbil, Bolton, had recently passed away at a very old age, and perusing the available critters helped to cheer her up. 

She took particular notice of a gerbil named Pascual because he appeared to be an albino and had a very sweet face.  She thought Pascual would be adopted quickly, but as the months went by, he remained at the shelter.  Through the winter, the spring, and then the summer, she checked the website, hoping to see the “adopted” notice pop up by Pascual’s name.   By late July 2011, Sharon couldn’t stand it anymore!  She came to CCHS with a mind to give Pascual the home he deserved. 

When Sharon spoke with our adoption staff she learned the reason Pasqual had been so difficult to place.  The little guy had a big attitude and a well-deserved reputation as a biter.  But Sharon was not easily dissuaded, and though seeing the staff don bite gloves to handle Pascual gave her pause, she couldn’t help but give in to her weakness for the little guy.  It wasn’t the first time that she had adopted a long-term CCHS resident or a “special needs” rodent.  (Sharon had previously adopted a one-eared hamster and a gerbil with neurological issues, to name just a couple of them.)  Knowing her experience and good track record with little critters, we sent Pascual home with Sharon and hoped for the best.

Five months later, we were delighted to receive an update from Sharon and learn that Pascual, now known as, “Bitey,” is doing very well.  Although Sharon admits that he is still “the Genghis Khan of the gerbil world, ” he is happy and healthy. 

Sharon and her family have developed some tricks for managing Bitey’s aggressive tendencies.  For example, Bitey has learned to associate his favorite snack (pumpkin seeds) with the sound of the can of pumpkin seeds rattling, so whenever his humans need to reach into his cage, they rattle the can at one end of the cage and put their hands in the other. 

They’ve also found that Bitey is happier and more relaxed with his cage in the living room, where there is a lot of activity for him to watch.  Although he might never be a cuddly gerbil that enjoys being held, Sharon and her family find him to be good company and extremely smart.  They still refer to him as a “mob enforcer,” but they can’t help but love him dearly.