The Nichols household is currently in the throes of pet selection. It all started with our trip to Nashville. Tabby saw a mouse trapped in a sticky trap. It was all she told her classmates about her trip to Nashville. It is all she has wanted to talk about lately. And it culminated in some bizarre justice scales thing where she MUST HAVE A PET MOUSE. So she and Matt setup some system where she does her “chores” – which basically consist of keeping her room neat, putting away her backpack and lunch dishes, performing the small tasks we assign to her (put away silverware, set the table, etc.) – for 25 days, she could earn her pet mouse.
It’s all been a bit fuzzy because my Project Manager husband (engineer of this whole scheme) didn’t implement a chart or anything to track progress (hmmmmm). But it has been a constant with her – working on her chores and asking about the mouse. As M-day has drawn nearer, we’ve been hedging on the whole thing. Not that we won’t let her get a pet, we will, but to me, mice are something you … well find in a sticky trap or feed to a snake (sorry). They don’t really seem like pets. Add into that the fact that they smell a bit and don’t live terribly long and I’m just not convinced. So I have made some alternative suggestions to mouse ownership, namely gerbil or hedgehog ownership. So let’s meet our bachelors:
1. Bachelor #1 The Fancy Mouse –
Despite (in my mind at least) being more of the classification of “pest” or “food” these guys are really pretty cute. They are constantly active and everyone insists they can be tamed and make good companions. Their cost of ownership is LOW since they and their supplies are cheap and they require no veterinarian examinations. On the downside, they tend to be smellier than some other small animals and they do not live terribly long.
2. Bachelor #2: The Gerbil –
My sister and I had gerbils growing up. Matt and I had some gerbils when we were in college. We know and like gerbils. They, like the mice, are a low cost of ownership and they can also (we know first hand) can be very docile and friendly. Being desert creatures, they require little food and water and they have no discernible odor. They live slightly longer than mice.
3. Bachelor #3: The Hedgehog –
Hedgehogs are cute as hell. They are a sort of higher-level mammal and they seem to be very docile (we just visited some at a pet store yesterday) and nice to play with. They don’t have quite the same inherently jumpy twitchy personality of mice or gerbils (though as I said before, that can be somewhat calmed out of the mice & gerbils) and as an added “fun” thing, they can SWIM! On the down side, they are hugely expensive, especially if you want to get a pair. And there’s also the spikes. They can’t throw them like a porcupine, but they can become quite prickly when they’re scared or agitated. But they do live upwards of 8 years … which kind of goes both ways.
For her money, our Bachelorette, Miss Tabby, is not entirely certain what she wants, just that she wants a little snuggly pet. She seems to be most fascinated with the animal she last held, so I want to give it some time – we will not be getting a new pet in any case until we’re back from our post-Christmas ski trip – and really give her some time to make up her mind.