Gerbils in the Mist – expedition field notes

Night vision goggles capture a gerbil in standard nocturnal mode

Editor’s Note: This report filed by shoutabyss is the fourth in a series of our ongoing team coverage of False Empty Nest Syndrome (or FENS). If you’ve missed our previous coverage, “gerbil” is the term we’ve come up with to describe a youngling who fails to leave the nest, thus triggering the onset of “False Empty Nest Syndrome.”

When we last caught sign of gerbil spore, four cans of overpriced and over-hyped energy drinks had mysteriously appeared in our refrigerator, so we knew the gerbil was close. Sure enough, the next day we flushed the little fellow out in the open. It was mostly a peaceful encounter. Still, one must already remember to tread with caution.

At times, the gerbil can be an extremely elusive animal, and indeed, we saw little sign of the gerbil for a number of days. Then I was informed there had been another sighting, this time by Mrs. Abyss. She said later that very day the gerbil would be preparing our evening meal.

This can be one of the most rewarding and perplexing aspects of gerbilology. You never know what they’ll do next. They are remarkably surprising animals. In this case the gerbil had actually approached us and voluntarily offered to make dinner. (Tortilla soup.) Extraordinary. But, the one thing you mustn’t ever do is underestimate the gerbil’s ability to disappoint. Yes, the evening came and went with no sign of gerbil. Just a cryptic text message that said, “working late.”

In fact, as of now, we haven’t seen the gerbil for several days. We foraged for ourselves that evening and we haven’t seen hide nor hair of the beast ever since. We’d almost suspect that the animal had finally moved on to a new nest and host organism …

Except …

There have been subtle new signs that the gerbil is close, but, for reasons unknown, is choosing to remain just out of sight. It was such a dramatic shift in behavior that I almost missed the signs.

Normally the gerbil is very much a nocturnal animal, choosing to eat, play and engage in reproduction practices at night, then nesting during the day. This is a naturally evolved defense mechanism that allows the gerbil to avoid daytime dangers like responsibilities, chores, and nagging and comments from nest-mates that the gerbil would very much prefer to avoid.

This time something was different. I arrived home from work at the normal time and nothing seemed amiss. However there was a very strong smell from the bathroom. My tracking skill told me a gerbil had been there, probably on a deuce run. (Previously documented behavior where the gerbil visits the nest for the sole purpose of depositing wastes then immediately flees before being detected.) The very next day the deuce run pattern was repeated and my suspicions were confirmed.

The gerbil had switched to daytime nocturnal mode.

“Daytime nocturnal” is the etymology I’ve developed to refer to this newly discovered form of gerbil behavior. The gerbil can be a very clever beast. It learns the patterns of the nest, which allows it to select “safe” times for visiting which will minimize the chance of contact, thus minimizing the previously mentioned threats that are viewed as keen dangers: Conversation with the innkeepers (those who maintain the nest for the gerbil), discussions of money, chores, responsibilities, the status of job hunting efforts, odors emanating from piles of dirty laundry, and much much more. Gerbils have developed a sixth sense for avoiding dangers like these.

The signs of daytime nocturnalism are fairly familiar and include: missing food, freshly used restroom facilities, kitchen appliances left on the counter, food debris, empty beer and energy drink cans in the garbage, dirty dishes, empty food containers left on the counter, missing possessions and more.

Follow-up Report: Energy drink ritual exposed (rare photograph)

A rare image taken from within a gerbil herd gathering

Gerbils are known to travel in herds. One aspect of behavior that is seemingly of paramount importance is the consumption and display of energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster. In fact, cans of these beverages function as a form of plumage form the gerbil (which has no naturally evolved plumage) in both peer situations and during mating when trying to earn the attention of suitable females for reproduction rituals.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that gerbil plumage includes other items, too, such as cigarettes and other tobacco products, alcohol (especially beer in cans), illegal drugs, expensive coffee drinks, vehicles, electronic devices and, of course, cell phones and text messaging devices. Cans of energy drinks, however, seem to be, by far, the most coveted within gerbil culture.

This rare photograph, which was taken by a gerbil within a herd gathering and then stored to my computer, illustrates the importance placed on a can of Monster energy drink by the herd. Other images from the same stores prominently feature cigarettes and cans of beer. The gerbils take an incredible amount of care to feature energy drinks, cans of beer and cigarettes in the composition of the photography, usually in the foreground, thus expressing much better than words ever could the significant and spiritual role such items play within the herd gathering.

3 responses

  1. This is too funny. Your field notes on the gerbil MUST be published as essential reading material for host organisms. I smell a best-seller here, downloaded at $9.99 on kindles everywhere. (I’m not sure of the actual cost, because I usually check out books for free at the library.) Hopefully the gerbil won’t see the book and therefore won’t be able to adjust its behavior to avoid capture and responsibility. 😉

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    1. Now I’m getting excited! I smell an opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade! Or something like that! 🙂

      Actually, I’d be happy to sell just one copy. For $600. To the gerbil himself. Then I’d break even and call it a day. LOLZ!

      Thanks for the comment. Glad you got some enjoyment out of it and I appreciate the suggestion. Maybe gerbil field research will be my niche!

      Like

  2. I think you’re going to have to go into witness protection. You can’t just expose a culture in this way and not expect big trouble.

    Like

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