I'm not a huge fan of animal shows as I think that they encourage overbreeding when the rescues are full. But they are a good place to provide information to people and so I have left up this story from 2000.
When we volunteered to look after the National Gerbil Society stand at the Telford small animal show we did actually still own gerbils. Unfortunately both of our elderly gerbils, Biscuit and Dave, got ill and had to be put down in the intervening time and we were faced with a stand to look after and no gerbils. So it was decided that we would press-gang Amy and Eric the Persian Jirds into service.
They were less than impressed when we got them out of their large cage and put them in a two foot cage although they thought it was Christmas when they got fed in the morning. We loaded them up into the car and headed for Telford with some printed information on Persian Jirds, our best gerbil book, a packed lunch and a small bag of sunflower seeds for bribes.
They were both quite interested in the car journey and didn't seem to get car sick like the Degus do. They did manage to chew the bottom out of their cardboard box before we got to Telford.
When we got to the Telford International Centre the lady on the door showed us to an enormous stand. The lady running the mouse stand had looked after the gerbil leaflets and board from the day before but there was just us, a Jird tank and about 8 trestle tables to go with them.
Still we set up with our information and the Jirds and before long people were coming to talk to us. Amy and Eric had a label on them with their names and what they were and after a while of settling in decided that life was interesting and came out to see who was looking at them.
They were very popular with people and I think I could have sold them many times over if I wanted to part with them! Lots of people wanted to know where to buy Jirds and I pointed them to the National Gerbil Society home page which has a gerbil adverts section.
We were located right next to the Chinchilla stand so I got to watch them judging the Chinchillas. A man on the stand told me that it was a bit early in the year to be showing Chins and they did look a bit hot and bothered. I felt a bit sorry for them shut in the little show cages but they mostly just slept all day and certainly none of them were distressed as Chins are very good at making it known when they are upset.
The show chinchillas were very beautiful and it was interesting to see all the different colours in the Flesh (or Fur should I say).
Here is a selection of very Naffed off looking Chinchillas waiting to be judged.
One of the Chinchilla ladies had bought a cage full of the babies that she was hand rearing for one reason or another with her and was hand feeding them every hour. This was really cute especially when they all were asleep in a big pile.
We were also by the rabbits, right next to the Belgian Hares which are my favourite rabbit breed. I would really like on but I think that you have to have a really large garden to let them run around at full speed. Like the Chinchilla people, the rabbit fanciers take their hobby really seriously. It is interesting seeing all of the different breeds of rabbits although I do worry about what happens to the animals that don't make the grade.
There were Guinea Pigs as well - I have always had a soft spot for Guineas as I had them when I was a child and they talk to you and have lovely natures. I noticed that the guinea pig show had a best pet category which was good and I talked to several children who had taken there pets up for the day to show them.
This is an English Giant rabbit which is the largest breed of rabbit. You can't really tell from the photo but they are absolutely enormous.
There was an auction of rabbits in the afternoon and I had to be very self controlled to stop myself bidding for some of the animals. People seemed to be paying very large quantities of money for the dwarf varieties which I think look a bit inbred and stunted but some really lovely rabbits went for less than you would pay in a pet shop. I think if there had been a Belgian Hare I might not have been able to stop myself!!
Afterwards there was a Beanie Baby auction and there were quite a few stalls selling Beanies at the show. It isn't really my thing but it was quite popular At least you don't have to worry about who will look after your Beanies when you go on holiday!
Even though we didn't have many animals on the stand we talked to lots of people and gave out information leaflets and some membership forms so it was worth doing. By the end of the show Amy the Jird had decided that she liked being a star and was coming out to see everyone who stopped by.
It was interesting that I got asked quite a few questions about Degus. Degus are not a species of gerbil but I guess they look most like them and there is so little information about especially if you don't have an Internet connection. Maybe at another show I might get the chance to set up a Degu information stand.
I also managed to get a large amount of the compressed sawdust litter that I use for Fluffs cage at a very reasonable price. There was also a bar (much to the delight of Chris) and cafe with food and ice cream available on site.
A lady on the hamster stand also had African Pygmy hedgehogs which she was hoping to breed next year. I think my husband would have liked to put his name down for one but we really don't have a lot of room at present. They were very cute and were quite happy to be got out and shown to everyone and would just curl up in a ball when they had had enough of being stroked. Update : I have had an email from the lady who had the hedgehogs and they have now bred. For more information see the African Pygmy Hedgehog site.