Friday, January 31, 2014

Gerbils are Not Hamsters

The Lemming recently discovered that gerbils are not hamsters. Well, of course they're not hamsters: if they were, they'd be called hamsters, and the Lemming would have to find something else to write about.

Gerbils aren't mice, either. They're gerbils.

The point is that hamsters live in hamster houses: those colorful plumbing nightmares you see on television sometimes. Or in pet stores.

Hamster houses are fine for hamsters, partly because hamsters don't mind prefab tunnels: and apparently don't eat plastic. Not often, anyway.

Gerbils, in sharp contradistinction (yes, it's a real word), dig their own tunnels: or try to. They also eat plastic, including the sort that hamster houses are made of.

Gerbils shouldn't eat plastic, but it's no use trying to educate a gerbil on the consequences of chowing down on synthetic tunnels. They eat the stuff anyway, after which their owner learns what a Wikipedia page meant by "serious health issues."

The same resource says that folks have quite a few opinions about how much space a gerbil needs:

"...Information from gerbil societies from throughout the globe is conflicting with regards to tank sizing. However, a common minimum given appears to be 10 imperial gallons per gerbil...."
(Housing in captivity, Gerbil, Wikipedia)

The page doesn't say so, but the Lemming assumes that the "tank" should be filled with air, not water: maybe that's obvious, but we live in an era of stupid warning labels, and that's another topic.

And why, the Lemming wonders, in this liberated age, should gerbils insist on imperial gallons? Do they consider common gallons beneath their dignity? And who ever heard of a house pet with royal pretensions, anyway?

Pretensions are not the same as pre-tensioned concrete, which is a fairly common structural material these days: and the Lemming's mind is wandering.


Finally, this is a gerbil:

(From Roo72, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)

This is not a gerbil:

(From JJ Harrison, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)

It's not a hamster, either, and that's yet another topic.

Vaguely-related posts:

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