I grew up with 3 brothers and countless gerbils. Brother #3 was the sibing the most fond of them. The Spo brothers did a very good job at keeping them. They would take blocks, toys, and anything at hand to make mazes and playgrounds for the gerbils to round around and explore. As a consequence, our gerbils lived many years longer than usual – another experiment supporting the value of regular exercise. On the other hand, the gerbils lived long enough to have more gerbils. A lot more. I forget how many we had – dozens and dozens I remember. They mostly had names from The Lord of the Rings and Shakespeare.  “Miranda” and “Frodo” the gerbil had several incarnations. Brother #4 had a gerbil named “Grace Jones”.

These lucky rodents lived in habitrails rivaling New York City in their complexity. The brothers kept the tubes and cages regularly cleaned and frequently rearranged (another reason why some of them lived over a decade).  All toilet paper and paper towel cardboard rolls became fodder, for they were constantly chewing (the gerbils, not my brothers).

The gerbils would escape on a regular basis. I would be sitting quietly watching TV when I would feel something brush past me, or I would spy a brown mouselike object scurrying across the floor. “Gerbil Loose!” was a frequent exclamation in our house.  We kids had the round up down pat. It sometimes took awhile, but we always found the escape artist.  I don’t think we ever lost one; they were always found.

Needless to say, rodents of any sort (including rats) do not phase me in the least.

Now that there is another generation of Spo nieces and nephews, I am curious to see if they will have their own gerbils – Frodo VIII and such.