Gerbils Strut Their Stuff at New England Pageant

Gerbil pageant
Rodrique Ngowi, AP

Move over, dogs, cats and horses. You're not the only pets who get to strut your stuff these days. Even gerbils have shows now. And these "show gerbils" have to meet some pretty high standards.This past weekend at the American Gerbil Society's annual New England show, the president of the Society told the Associated Press that to imagine the ideal male gerbil, "you might think of a football player": big and strong-looking with a thick neck. And the ladies are expected to be no less athletic: "I usually use a figure skater as my mental image, or gymnasts ... she's gonna be strong, muscular and athletic."

Some gerbils put those athletic looks to the test in agility competitions where they race around an obstacle course. (Don't believe they can do it? Check out this video of a gerbil on a handmade agility course.) They also compete on looks in classes divided by color. (Yes, gerbils come in different colors, with names like Red Fox, Silver Nutmeg and Burmese.)

The Society has three live shows throughout the year as well as a Virtual Show online in the summer, and gerbils who don't quite meet those rigorous standards of appearance have their moment in the sun at these shows as well. In the Pet class, they get to compete in the Gerbil Olympics. In one event, the gerbils race along a track inside of their plastic play balls. Another makes use of a rodent's best natural ability: a timed chewing contest for both individuals and teams.

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