We thought we should introduce you to the only remaining member of our little family we haven't featured yet: Mel. He's our eldest (albeit smallest), "son". He is a Bushy Tailed Jird.
He's a travelin' man. Currently he is about 3 years old, but he's managed to travel far and wide during his short little life so far. He is from an exotic pet store in Melbourne, Florida, and drove halfway across the country with me to college in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Later that year, he went home with my friend Lisa to Texas, where she so kindly looked after him for a bit. After graduation, he traveled with us as we moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where we currently still reside. Yup, Mel has definitely traveled far and wide, and I bet he's been more places than even some people have.
He's really small, and fast as lightning! When my mother first described him, she described him as a "gerbil on crack". He's nocturnal, like hamsters, so he sleeps during the day and goes crazy at night. When we wake him up in the middle of the day, he's so sleepy he just lays in our hands. But after a couple minutes he'll wake up and start running around again. His fur is exactly like a Chinchilla's - super soft, and he takes sand baths just like a Chinchilla, too - he rolls around in the sand on his back and flips around (check out the video at the end of the post to see it). He has tiny little nails on the ends of his hands and feet, supposedly so he can climb rocks and boulders in the desert. But he likes to use his nails to climb us! He'll climb up my shirt and run around my shoulders, climb on top of my head and descend down my back. Sometimes I'll walk around the house with Mel perched atop my shoulders, and I end up feeling like some kind of weird pirate.
He's very smart, too. At night he hates when we turn on the light. I'm sure you're thinking "just how do you know that?" His cage is sitting right under a light switch, and one night we were in his room (yes, he has his very own room in our house!... well, okay, so it's my studio/a guest room, too - we can't spoil him too much) and we turned on the light in his room. Apparently he didn't want the light on, because he smooshed himself against the glass directly below the light switch and started jumping up and down trying to reach it! It was hilarious! Oh, did I mention he can jump really really high? He can jump so high he hits the top of the cage (and he has his own 20 gallon tank, it's quite big and tall). So, we deduced that he is quite smart, indeed - for a small little rodent, that is.
He doesn't smell, and doesn't bite. Except one time in college, a tornado siren went off during a bad storm and we had to find a storm shelter, which, unfortunately, was quite a ways away across campus. Tom scooped up Mel from his cage (to "save" him), stuffed him into his sweatshirt pocket, and we took off running through the wind and blowing rain to get inside the tornado shelter. In the middle of the running, wind, sirens and rain, Mel got scared and bit Tom. Which, under the circumstances, was perfectly understandable. He has never bitten anyone before or since.
Below is a video of Mel taking a sandbath: