Rodents at Large


One student’s highly unique take on the college application essay. Who knows what the question was…

When I was ten years old I went to the pet store with my father and I went through a treacherous adventure that I have since been trying to forget. There were beautiful animals in that pet store.  Fish, parrots, parakeets, bunnies: the list goes on and on. My father had the right idea. “How about this parrot? It is a lovely color and it would make your mother happy.” I said it seemed like a great idea but maybe we should look around. I  meandered over to the bunnies but found them boring, then out of the corner of my eye something caught my attention.

About ten gerbils all in glorious fall colors were running around in glass tanks. I thought that I had found my destiny. “The gerbil girl.” I found one that I wanted that was a lovely orange color. But the sales lady insisted that I also take its sister. It seemed logical to me.  The lady put the two rodents in a little cardboard box and we took Alice and Lucy back home.

Alice and Lucy were truly the Paris and Nicky Hilton of the Gerbil world. I worked hard and made a lot of money in the chore trade and I assured them that they would have every advantage that I had been deprived of.  They had all the toys a gerbil could ever want, art work was plastered around their tank and they had the finest shavings and the finest timothy. They truly were precious gifts, my gerbils. Then one fateful day everything changed for the worst.

No parent ever hopes that their child will get pregnant in their teenage years. Especially if it is out of wedlock. But, when one of your children impregnates the other it takes things to another level. It turns out Alice was a he, so I decided to rename him Alastor. I told myself that I would have to be strong to get through this and that I would certainly put the offspring up for adoption and hope that I could get some money in the process, because no matter how unfortunate a situation is; you should always try to get a profit.  I waited patiently for a few days because the gerbil gestation period is a quick turnaround, so whether you are pro life or pro choice is irrelevant, because there isn’t enough time to act quickly.

After their ten pink, wrinkly offspring arrived I counted down the days till I could sell them. I told Lucy that I was going to have to sell her children – she seemed to understand so I moved forward. I called all the pet stores in my area trying to get them to take the gerbils. Most of them said they had too many gerbils, and one of them said that they only sold ‘exotic fancy gerbils.’

My gerbils were aging quickly, and while Alastor and Lucy no longer had romantic interests in each other, their children were becoming friendlier then I would have hoped. Since I was desperate I offered to give the gerbils away to some friends who didn’t know any better.

After I sold the gerbils I felt so guilty whenever I looked at Lucy and Alastor. The next day all of Alastor and Lucy’s children were brought back. I had offered to pay ten dollars a gerbil, but it turns out my friends’ parents weren’t to thrilled with the gerbil venture, so I got them for free. In the years to come, I had many more gerbils because it turns out that gerbils not only enjoy breeding with siblings, but also parents, uncles and cousins. But that is just fine. Gerbils don’t live very long, but I got to enjoy all of them for three and a half years. When the last gerbil died, I decided that I was happy that I had done the right thing, and in the process I had learned a very good biology lesson.


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