Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas is coming! And so will new members of our household...

With Christmas coming up, we've gone back and forth on what to get the kids. Something we'd talked about last year, since we have gotten Rei is that the kids have repeatedly asked at different times for a pet of thier own. Each time we make our way to a pet store, they are drawn to the animals there and MD moreso to the guinea pigs and even kittens.

So we've gone back and forth on whether or not the kids are old enough to have their own pet but since I feel like with going to get a guide dog, that the direct result was needing to rehome Lisa, our mutt, and Yogi our pembroke welsh corgi. (the school allowed other dogs- we were not able to care for three dogs and with Yogi gone, Lisa had really bad problems with separation anxiety- to the point of tearing up any cage she was put into and things in the house)

Coming home with Honey- she was the kids pet too, as she was sooooo sweet natured and just a lovey dovey dog. However with Rei, while the kids love her as well and can play some with her, she is really my dog and is bonded to me. So all in all, I have really felt like we owe it to the kids to get them some sort of pet of their own. So this brought us to what pet would we be willing to get and they could take care of and so forth. We have really come to enjoy the advantage of being able to take Rei with us anywhere we go, so Hubby and I really, really did not want to get another dog. While I'm ok with cats, Hubby is not, so a kitten was out of the question. Growing up I'd had rabbits and YUCK! They stink and are really messy if you don't stay on top of them, as well as need a larger cage and space.

So we decided to start looking at small critters. The first thing that came to mind was hamsters, so I started looking up information and reading and such online about hamsters. I quickly learned that Hamsters are nocturnal animals and do not like being bothered during the day and such. They tend to bite if woken up and such, so Mom quickly ruled out the hamsters. While looking up this info, I found that gerbils are not so much the nocturnal animals, but they need to be together in pairs or more to thrive well. So we started looking into gerbils.

I read up on them and found that they are quite active and inquisitive and that they make really good first pets for children too. I also read that there is an advantage to buying them from a breeder as most breeders will handle the babies on a regular basis, where they are accostumed to human handling from the time they are little and much less likely to bite or anything like that.

So with some more research, I found a breeder pretty close to us, living on the southwest side of Indianapolis, by the name of Cassie Nichols. She specializes in rats and gerbils so I emailed her about the gerbils she has. Cassie has been AWESOME in answering my gazillion questions and letting me know what was going on with her breeding pairs and the babies and such. So we have decided to get the kids a trio of gerbils for christmas.

Here is Cassie's websites, which the main one is primarily for her rats and she's still working on the gerbil page, so it's still kind of a hodgepodge of stuff yet.

Main page: Indys Critters

Gerbils: Indys Critters Gerbils

But if you are looking for a person that knows her stuff and is VERY helpful, definately shoot an email her way! I've been really impressed with her willingness to help me out and so forth! And even better- the entire trio of gerbils from Cassie will be about the same price as what the local petstores want for one!

Cassie just sent me a picture of the babies (since I was impatient), which their eyes aren't open yet, so waiting for thier eyes to open and should get some more pictures of them to share! :) This litter is from her breeding pair Dakota- a burmese colored buck and Tara- a sapphire colored doe. These babies were born a week before Thanksgiving on Wednesday night. There are three females and three males, the females being two blacks and a white pink eyed. The males are two blacks and a grey, which Cassie says she plans to use the grey in her breeding program.

So we have reserved the three females and will be picking them up on Christmas eve! :) So here is thier 2 week group picture:

Where are we going to put them? We have picked up two Critter Trail cages- and thanks to the Black Friday and Amazon sales going on, we got some really good deals on the two cages. We have also picked up a couple of expansion packs and a critter playpen to help make it a little easier for the kids to try to interact with them, since the playpen can be connected to a tube and opened up to let them come out. We plan to put them on the white cabinets in the playroom, one up on top where the older tv is- which is moving to our bedroom and the second one inside the open part of the white cabinet. Since the white cabinet has seen better days and is a compressed board peice of furniture, we'll drill a hole through the side of it to run the tubes and connect the two cages.

When we got the one cage- the Critter Trail X, I did set it up there and take a picture before stashing it away (boxed up) in the laundry room:

Here is the items that we've bought for our new critters:

The Critter Trail X (shown above)
The Critter Trail Double Decker
Expansion pack 1
Expansion pack 2
Critter Trail PlaypenTwo clear gerbil exercise balls

I was also able to get bedding food dishes, food, chew toys and such online as well. We've been saving toilet paper rolls for several months now and have quite a stack of those going to give to the new critters.

We are thinking that we are going to bring them home on Christmas eve and try to keep them hidden for the evening for the kids to wake up on Christmas morning to all of the stuff set up and the critters in the cages. :)