Cute gerbils – have we got chews for you!

Sometimes, what the world really needs is to see pictures of cute animals. So, for no other reason than to say “Here are my gerbils – they’re cute”, here are some pictures of my three gerbils (aka the Boys) being cute.

In these photos, you can see them performing my favourite gerbil routine, which I call ‘Synchronised Chewers’. This is where I give each of them a chocolate drop, and sit back for a content moment to watch them silently nibbling together in perfect unity.



First, meet Stripe. Stripe is the smallest, busiest and most energetic of the Boys. He is undisputed king of the wheel. He’s also the first to respond when I call out “You Boys!”, leading the charge to the hatch at the front of the cage. I’d love to say it’s because he’s excited to see me – and in a way that’s true. It’s just that he’s excited to see me because I usually come bearing treats.

Stripe is something of an enigma among the gerbils. His fur often subtly changes shade – sometimes he’s darker grey, sometimes lighter, and sometimes a mix, but the stripe on his face, from which he got his name, disappeared a while ago, then occasionally reappears in a different position.



This is Snowy, so called because he’s the lightest-coloured gerbil of the three. When we first got him, he was white, but now he’s a little greyer (aren’t we all?).

Snowy’s role in the gerbil cage is Head of Eating. He does love his food, and will often climb into the bowl to sit there scoffing.



This is Elvis, our darkest-grey gerbil. He’s in charge of chewing, and has unrivalled abilities in shredding cardboard tubes. He’s the most wary of the Boys, and will often hide away in a tunnel to furtively chew his food away from the watchful eyes of his brothers.

Three gerbils - Snowy, Stripe and Elvis

The Boys demonstrate Synchronised Chewers.

So that’s it. Three gerbils, being cute. I’m off to give them a treat…

If you liked this post, you might also like Stop. Hamster time!


Stop. Hamster time!

This is the story of how a hamster taught me a valuable lesson about life.

Here is the hamster in question.


His name is Nibbles, and he’s our family pet. He is better known as Nibs, but will also answer to Nib Nib, Nibby or even Nibby Nibby Nib Nib.

You know when Nibs is awake because you can usually hear one of us calling “Niiiiiiiiiibs” in a silly pet voice. One of the grown-ups usually. The children are much more sensible

I’ll have to cover Nibs’s ears for a moment because I have a shocking confession to make. I didn’t want a hamster, or any kind of pet for that matter. Not right now.

I love animals. I just didn’t want another responsibility; another thing to worry about or care for; another thing to become emotionally attached to.

My daughter had been quietly but steadily campaigning for a pet for a while, and my wife and I had always said “Not yet,” but there came a turning point.

One night at Brownies, another Brownie brought in her hamster to show the girls. He was easy to look after, she said, and a lovely pet. Somehow or other, my wife had a kind of enlightening Road to Damascus moment and became converted to the hamster cause on the walk home from Brownies, and joined the hamster recruitment campaign.

She was far more persistent and persuasive than my daughter and did her research thoroughly. A hamster would be easy to care for, inexpensive, a good starter pet… I started to receive texts and emails throughout the next day, saying, quite simply, “Hamster”.

In the end, I conceded defeat, and we went on a family outing to the pet shop. We saw two hamsters, but Nibs was immediately the one for us. My little boy named him Nibbles, we loaded up the car with a hamster house, bedding, food and various forms of hamstery entertainment, then took him home.

Needless to say, I am the one who’s become soppiest about Nibbles. He’s such a cute little chap – surprisingly good fun and full of character. He and I have some kind of father-hamster bond. He looks for me to let him out of his cage for a stroke, a whiz around in his ball, a treat or just the chance to try and escape. I love him and won’t try to deny it.

What he’s taught me is this – there is always a teensy bit more room in your life for pleasure; for new things to enjoy and look forward to.

He’s also reminded me of an important lesson from my counselling for depression.  There’s no point fearing the worst and worrying about things that might never happen. Yes, Nibs is another thing to care about, but the added pleasure he’s brought to us all far outweighs that.