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Anything Can Happen At A Gerbil Show

Results of the Senior Class at the recent American Gerbil Society New England Gerbil Show yielded some surprises.

Marylou Zarbock
Posted: May 14, 2013, 5:10 p.m. EDT

gerbil Tamago with his 1st place ribbon
© Courtesy Tracy Kukkonen
Owner Tracy Kukkonen said her gerbil Tamago has the "male bulk" that the judges love.
Gerbl Geneva with her 3rd place ribbon
© Courtesy Tracy Kukkonen
Owner Tracy Kukkonen said the judges commented that her gerbil Geneva did not have any muddy tones in her blue coat color.

Five gerbils won ribbons or an honorable mention in the Senior Class at the New England Gerbil Show in early May 2013. And a pair of honeymooning gerbils each won a ribbon.

The 1st-place winner was Oishii's Parade's Tamago, owned by Tracy Kukkonen of Oishii Gerbils in Massachusetts and bred by Rebecca Azer of Gerbil Parade in Massachusetts. Tamago is a 3-year-old, dark-eyed, honey-colored male.

Kukkonen also owns Oishii's SRG's Blue Geneva, who placed 3rd at the show. Geneva is a 3-year-old, blue-colored female and was bred by Libby Hanna. Kukkonen said that Hanna told the crowd Tamago is Geneva’s new mate, so the pair were at the show on their honeymoon.

"I was surprised and very pleased that Geneva was given 3rd place in the Senior Class, and when Tamago was announced as the 1st place Senior, I was just thrilled,” Kukkonen said. "I knew he was a great gerbil, but I certainly didn't expect a win because he is 3 years 2 months, and some of the competitors may have been as young as 2 years 6 months, which in gerbil years is a significant difference! I also was originally not planning to show Tamago, so I had not been practicing with him to let the judges handle him. The blue ribbon was a wonderful surprise.”

gerbil Narcissa being held
© Courtesy Libby Hanna.
Libby Hanna's gerbil Narcissa now has 5 of the 8 points required to be a champion.

The Best of Opposite Sex winner, which counts as a 1st place win, was SRG's Narcissa, owned by Libby Hanna of Shawsheen River Gerbils in Massachusetts. Narcissa is a 2.5-year-old, argente-colored female that was bred by Emily Poirier of Galaxy Gerbils. Hanna also owns SRG's Hum, who won 2nd place. Hum is a 3.5-year-old, red-eyed, Schimmel-colored male. His coloring is very rare. Hanna said that Hum and his wife, Mosaic, were excited about his achievement.

Honorable Mention for the Senior Class went to GL's Bella Crème Brulee, owned and bred by Leigh Dibden of Gerbils By Leigh in Maine. Bella is a 2.5-year-old, slate-colored female.

"I am always excited when my show gerbils get ribbons, and I was happy Bella got a placement at this show!” Dibden said.

Gerbils have a life span of 4 to 5 years, so winning at their age is an achievement. None of these gerbils have achieved champion status, which requires eight points, but Hanna has hopes for Narcissa, who has five points right now. Her 2nd place win got her 2 points, and a previous 1st place win got her 3 points.

gerbil show ribbons
© Courtesy Libby Hanna
This ribbon shelf includes Narcissa and Hum's 1st and 2nd place ribbons. Hanna said that both gerbils believe the secret to a long, happy show life is "good food, clean water bottle, a well-maintained tank, regular exercise and the affection of a good human and a good gerbil friend."

"She needs another blue ribbon to get a championship at her next show,” Hanna said. She hopes that Narcissa will be able to compete at the Midwest Gerbil Show this October. "If she doesn't quite make her 8 points,” Hanna said, "she can try to hang on for the Midatlantic show in January 2014.”

The other gerbil owners commented that they would consider entering their gerbils in a future show if the gerbils are up to it.

What makes a great show gerbil? Proper care, genetics, tolerance of handling and personality are all key factors.

Dibden credits good diet, lots of rest and a sweet-natured personality for Bella’s success.

Kukkonen mentioned Geneva’s large size and correct coat color for Geneva’s success. She said the same factors figured into Tamago’s success, along with his eyes being beautiful. To prove her point, Kukkonen said his photo shows his lovely eyelashes.

But looks aren’t everything. "Personality also counts for 25 percent of a gerbil's score,” Kukkonen said, "and both Geneva and Tamago are very agreeable and friendly with people. They are handled frequently by different members of the family so they are quite comfortable being picked up and examined.”

If you own gerbils and are thinking about showing them, Dibden has some words of advice. "If you would like to start out with gerbil shows, it helps to connect with responsible breeders so you can find gerbils from quality, healthy show lines,” Dibden said. "But mostly, just start learning and have fun!”

But gerbil shows aren’t just for showing gerbils. "Even if you don't participate in the competition, a gerbil show is really fun and you will get to meet lots of other people who love gerbils as much as you do,” Kukkonen said.

The next AGS gerbil show takes place in October 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. The exact date will be posted on the American Gerbil Society website soon.

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