gerbil art

Yes, you read that correctly. Gerbil Art.

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“Diamond” by Digger
you can’t say the little dude ain’t got some skills…

Let me back up a bit. A few weeks ago, the boys and I spent an unGodly amount of time in the PetsMart, scouting rodents. Seriously. We were there close to 3 hours–through 2 shifts of “small animal experts”. I could have worked there by the end of it. Jack could have worked there. We were all small animal experts after 3 hours of pamphlet reading, critter observation, habitat comparison and critical interviews with the, um, staff.

In the end, we picked a light gray Mongolian gerbil who has tons of personality. He caught our eye when he kept popping up out of his nest with pieces of Aspen shavings still hanging from his head. He also had been deemed by every employee at PetsMart as “the non-biter”. Crucial.

To its credit, PetsMart gave us a New Pet Contract which required that we would be kind to our new pet and treat him with dignity. In return, PetsMart said they’d re-po the pet if we decided (within 2 weeks) that he wasn’t for us; they’d also replace him if he kicked the bucket within those two weeks.

[Side note: this is one of the strangest policies I’ve ever encountered. I’m familiar with it because I was once fish-sitting for a friend and one of the swimmers went belly-up so I had to get a replacement. The replacement keeled over in a day and since it wasn’t a $2 beta fish (more like an $18 exotic salt-water something-or-other), I called up PetsMart to grumble. They told me to bring the fish in and they’d replace it. So I tossed him in a ziploc and off we went for fish #2. Who also died. And who also sat in my freezer in a ziploc for a few months before I finally gave up. And the friend whose fish I was watching? Never even realized one was missing.]

Moving on.

I had all 3 boys sign the contract while sitting on the floor of the store. Then we loaded up our new gerbil and his 10 gallon tank and headed home.

The tiny bit of personality Digger displayed at PetsMart was just the tip of the iceberg. This little critter rocks. He’s cute as anything, very sweet and generally well behaved. He has a clear ball we put him in and he runs through the house, bouncing off the walls and smashing into the dogs, who don’t even get out of the way. They are so old that they just don’t even care that a small, fuzzy, moving thing inside a ball has crashed into them.

And while he’s not a biter (the good folk at the ‘Mart were right on that one), he does love him some chewing. He sounds like a mini typewriter as he goes to town on a cardboard paper towel roll or toilet paper roll. He’ll chew up paper in no time, shredding it to confetti which he thens kicks around to one side of his habitat for his impressive nest.

So the Digs made his inaugural trip down to the beach with us this week. And the boys realized a money-making scheme. Designs by Digger.

They fold up a sheet of paper and hold it out for Digger, who just cannot let it sit there unchewed. Digger’s creative juices get to flowing; he pops up and chews and nibbles on the edges for a few minutes and then jumps back into his log house. The boys deem the artist’s work complete, and remove the paper and unfold it. Voila! Gerbil Art.

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preparing the canvas…

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presenting the canvas to the artist…

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The Artiste at work…
(note the delicate yet deliberate placement of his hands to steady the paper…)

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eat your heart out, Picasso…

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The masterpiece is complete!

But wait! They’ve taken it to the next level and are currently conducting a Gerbil Art sale on our driveway. When the throngs of customers failed to show up, Tucker decided he needed to do some advertising.

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A piece of coveted Gerbil Art will only set you back $.30 (a strategically calculated price assuring all 3 boys each make one thin dime on each sale).

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Art sale works on the honor system. We’ve had no takers yet (which only means the selection still rocks).

Tucker has also branched out and created his line of Gerbil Stationery. These cards are the perfect way to say whatever it is that you couldn’t say yourself and felt the need to buy a card to say for you. When in doubt, let a small rodent tackle your communication issues, I say. One-of-a-kind, to say the least.

We’ve been rewarding the artist by putting him in his ball and letting him go wild.

And our little friend has proven just how creative he is.

We heard a bunch of commotion in the living room, and Jack came running into the room to tell us that Digger was indeed an artist…

…an escape artist.

That turkey has figured out how to ram his exercise ball into the wall at full force to pop the top off and go free-range Digger. (He does come back when you call him, though. See, we told you he was a good gerbil.)

And just in case you’re worried that we have completely lost it, I’ll close with some pretty terrific beach photos.

Sans gerbil.

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