Last year, before my blog break, we were a happy family of five. Two adults, three children and all was well.
A little over a week ago, we became a larger family … a family of ten. The children have been desperate for pets and after many discussions and lots of research, we said yes. To five pets. FIVE!
First came two rabbits, two year old lop-earred sisters who needed a new home. The family who was rehoming them had bought a terrier, not realising that a terrier would see the rabbits as dinner. After it killed one of the guinea-pigs, they decided to find a new home for the rabbits.
And we were the lucky family that got to take them on. PK named the ginger one CBeebee and Plum named the white one Olivia. They are fab. Happy hopping around lawn removing the need for Stonelaughter to mow. All is well.
Two days later, we picked up Bean’s new pets, a trio of gerbils. Sisters. We tried to adopt some gerbils from a rescue centre, but the hoops we had to jump through were numerous and perhaps a little unnecessary. I completely understood the need to check that a 9 year old was not going to have sole responsibility for the lives of three animals. I understood the need to check that the accommodation was going to be big enough for the number of gerbils living in it. But when they wanted to see photos of each and every toy, ladder, house and such, and see them all set up (before they’d even let us discuss adopting), in situ, I gave up. I’m sorry I did, but I did. Gerbils have a short enough life as it is, and these were already over a year old. I didn’t want to spend the next year of their life discussing ladders. Couple that with the fact that the listings they had placed on pet sites didn’t seem to match the animals that they had available and I was tired.
In the meantime, I had received a reply from someone else who was advertising a litter of gerbils. They were young, which meant Bean would have their full lives to get to know them. They weren’t rescue animals but they needed homes, nonetheless.
Bean chose three sisters – the only ginger one in the group, a grey one and a dark chocolate one with white socks. He’s named them Cinnamon, Hardcastle and Shadow respectively.
So, these lovely little girls may not have been rescue animals, but I certainly felt like we had rescued them.
When we arrived at the address, there was an enormous dog in an enormous wooden crate behind the front door, taking up most of the hallway. The house smelt of smoke, and in the front room were several adults smoking, with overflowing ashtrays. The room was foggy with smoke. Also in this room was a parrot in a cage not much bigger than it was, and a reptile enclosure (which was pretty cool) built into the wall and taking up half the main wall. Also in here were two litters of gerbils, aged three weeks apart. They were in small boxes (not cages) with barely any bedding, no water and just a little food.
It was clear that these gerbils were part of a baby mill. The couple selling them complained that Pets at Home had refused to sell them a mixed pair of gerbils to prevent breeding (good!). I wanted to walk out and not be part of this, but having driven 40 minutes to get there with an excited 9 year old who was desperate to choose his pets, I didn’t feel like I could. I felt caught between a rock and hard place and I’m afraid not disappointing my son won over.
I will have to content myself that they are now in a nice big cage (almost a metre tall) with 3 platform levels, a hanging ladder, 30cm deep of burrowing material and hope that they have a happy life. And I will keep watching the faces of my children who all delight in watching the shenanigans of the gerbils and rabbits.