Archive for May 1st, 2011

Jopty’s Recycling Center

May 1, 2011

Jopty's empty kingdom.


Jopty Gerbil is the easiest animal to take care of.  Honestly, if you want easy, get a gerbil.  They don’t have any odor, and they eat anything, ANYTHING, you can give them.  I used to buy commercial bedding for him, and one day I gave him an empty toilet paper tube to play with.  He had great fun with it and ran through it several times, then grabbed the end of it with both his adorable little paws and gnawed away at it, with a rat-tat-tat-tat noise like a tiny machine gun, or a manual typewriter if you prefer a less military comparision.

The next morning I noticed that the entire tube was gone, and I assumed that he ate it.  This seemed like a real deal to me.  Feed him cardboard (that statement alone should remind everyone to take everything I say with a grain of salt).  What an inexpensive pet!  So I gave him another tube. 

This went on a bit before I realized that he was not eating the cardboard, he was shredding it.  Shredding it into tiny, adorable shreds better than any shredder that money can buy.  He made a heap of shreds, and created a nest inside of the heap, which took me to a new train of thought…

If he shreds cardboard tubes so well, what would he do with empty paperboard boxes, like cereal boxes, or empty tea boxes, or spaghetti boxes?  He dragged the empty tea box on its side, and turned the empty tea box into a little house.  He dragged in shredded bedding from other parts of his cage and made a nest inside, after chewing a hole in the bottom for an escape hatch.  The spaghetti boxes didn’t fit flat on the bottom of the cage, for they were too long, so the spaghetti box would be propped at a diagonal, and he’d pop in the upper end and slide down the inside of the box with a *thump* at the bottom, then climb back up, still inside the box, sometimes not making it to the top and he’d slide backwards down to the bottom again, with another thump.  The little window on the spaghetti box only made it look cuter.  Sometimes he’d stop and look out the little window on the spaghetti box as if to say, “Hey, just what’s so funny?”  And if you imagine he spoke with a British accent, well, you just have to chuckle. 

So I stopped buying the special bedding for him, for there’s usually a good supply of cardboard thereabouts.  And just the other day, I had another brainfart brainstorm: what about junk mail?  I decided that colored junk mail definitely was out, because the inks and dyes could be poisonous to a little rodent, although probably not too poisonous or else they’d be in d-CON mouse bait, and I just wasn’t sure about black ink.  So I gathered some old papers that needed to be shredded, like old bills with addresses and account numbers on them, and took the plunge.

Alice: "Hmmm, Jopty, let me think about this. If you start now, you could be finished by supper."


Alice: "Jopty? JOPTY?! Are you in there? Are you all right? Answer me, boy!"

This scene of destruction took place a few days ago when I had a little time on my hands.  Every day I checked on the progress and found that Jopty had pulled some of the pages to the bottom of the cage and had been sitting on them while he piled his nest on top.  I reached in and fluffed up the pages so that he could destroy them better.

Jopty: "Wow, I'm saving the planet!"

When I clean out his cage, I just take a handful of the stuff and sprinkle it around the bushes and plants for mulch.  One gerbil, saving the planet. 

(Disclaimer:  households with small children (or big children) under the age of 6 should not have gerbils.)