Quest for a new gerbil takes breeder to Regina

Trina Ng's fascination with gerbils has prompted her to move to Canada from the Far East in her quest to breed the furry creatures.

Gerbil enthusiast seeks to cross underwhite and blue gerbils

Trina Ng, a gerbil fancier, hopes to breed a never-before-seen variety, Bonnie Allen reports. 2:09

Trina Ng's fascination with gerbils has prompted her to move to Canada from the Far East in her quest to breed the furry creatures.

Ng is from Singapore, a part of the world where gerbils are not popular as pets.

"They see a gerbil, they just think 'That's a rat, that's a mouse,'" Ng told CBC News. "To Chinese, rats and mice are not very desirable."

But Ng, 21, has a deep affinity for the gerbil and is especially keen to breed different strains. In her native land, however, the gene pool just isn't diverse enough to satisfy her curiosity.

"Most people in Singapore don't keep gerbils," she explained. "Gerbils are quite rare in Singapore. Pet shops sometimes don't even know of them."

Ng took up studies at Western University in Ontario as a foreign exchange student, however, and now she is able to carry her gerbils to a much wider breeding stock. Ng says shipping gerbils is next to impossible, so she ends up escorting them for breeding opportunities.

Even that is something of a logistics chore, as she must ensure she uses an airline that will accept gerbils for transport and has planes with heated cargo holds.

Her most recent quest for a new gerbil has taken her to Regina, where she discovered some rare stock — the coveted blue gerbil that is usually found in Europe.

Ng was eager to breed a blue gerbil with one of her own, another rare example because it has what is known as the underwhite gene. She found the Regina blue gerbils through the internet and contacted owners Shayna Close and her mother Johanne, who are also enthusiastic gerbil fanciers.

"We had maybe about 20, for a long time," Shayna Close says. "Everybody knew about it, and I was the crazy gerbil person in school."

Their most recent acquisition, the blue gerbil, is rare in Canada.

"It's a nice colour," Johanne says. "They're interesting because they come in a whole bunch of shades and they actually change colour over time."

Ng believes that no one has ever crossed the blue gerbil with the underwhite gerbil.

The animals have been together for about a week.

If all goes according to nature, the new gerbil pups could be born 25 days after a successful mating.


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