Cecil Adams on Gerbil Stuffing

"The Straight Dope" is a newspaper column where readers write in with their questions. Any question at all is fair game. The columnist, Cecil Adams, swears that he never fakes any of the reader's letters, he says he doesn't need to with all the weird people out there. His columns have been collected and published in a book called The Straight Dope, available at bookstores near you.

The column reprinted below concerns the mechanics of inserting gerbils into body cavities, and is the most disgusting thing I've seen on the net in a long, long, time..


A reader writes in:

While discussing a gay acquaintance recently, my friend Mary, a nurse, lauded him by adding, "and he's no damn gerbil stuffer, either." When I protested that she should not perpetuate cruel sterotypes of our homosexual brethern, she informed me that she personally had witnessed a fellow admitted by her hospital to remove a deceased gerbil lodged in his rectum. That gentelman is now doomed to be tied to a colostomy bag through eternity. What I'd like to know is, what are the mechanics and philosophy of gerbil stuffing? How are the gerbils insserted and retrieved? Don't they bite and scratch? Why not hamsters or snakes? Is this a common practive? My curious friends and I await your reply with bated breath.

-- Shanon O'Hara, W. Thomas

Cecil Adams replys:

Let's face it, toots, an awful lot of stuff has been found where that gerbil was found. The medical journals list an astonishing array: a bottle of Mrs Butterworth's syrup, an ax handle, a nine-inch zucchini, countless dildoes and vibrators including one 14-inch model complete with two D-cell batteries, a plastic spatula, a 9 & 1/2-inch water bottle, a deodorant bottle, a Coke bottle, a large bottle cap, numerous other bottles, a 3&1/2-inch Japanese glass float ball, a 11-inch carrot, an antenna rod, a 150-watt light bulb, a 100-watt-frosted bulb, a cucumber, a screwdriver, four rubber balls, 72&1/2 jeweler's saws (all from one patient, but not all at the same time, although 29 were discovered on one occasion), a paperweight, an apple, an onion, a plastic toothbrush package, two bananas, a frozen pig's tail (it got stuck when it thawed), a ten inch length of broomstick, an 18-inch umbrella handle and central rod, a plantain encased in a condom, two Vaseline jars, a whiskey bottle with a cord attatched, a teacup, an oil can, a six-by-five-inch tool box weighing 22 ounces, a six inch stone weighing two pounds (in the later two cases the patients died due to intestinal obstruction), a baby powder can, at test tube, a ball-point pen, a peanut butter jar, candles, baseballs, a sand filled bicycle inner tube, sewing needles, a flashlight, a half-filled tobacco pouch, a turnip, a pair of eyeglasses, a hard-boiled egg, a carborundum grindstone (with handle), a suitcase key, a syringe, a file, tumblers and glasses, a polyethylene waste trap from the U-Bend of a sink, and so on. In 1955 one man who was "feeling depressed" reportedly inserted a six-inch paper tube into his rectum, dropped in a lighted firecracker, and blew a hole in his anteriour rectal wall. This changed his mood multo rapido.

As for live or recently deceased fauna, rumors of gerbil (and mouse or hanster) stuffing have been circulating since about 1982, and I know of at least one case, in 1984, when a Denver weekly printed a confirmed report of a gerbilectomy in a local emergency room. Unfortunately, such cases have been slow in making their way into the formal literature of medicine. I have checked with numerous sources, including gays, doctors, and your nurse friend, and though everybody has heard about gerbil stuffing, there is no consensus on how it is accomplished or how often it occurs. The principle is simple: a tube is inserted in the rectum, and a recently manicured gerbil is induced to run up the tube and burrow in. There's some difference of opinion about what happens next. Some say the gerbil somehow winds up in a bag or scak (perhaps a condom?); others say no sack is used -- the gerbil simply squirms around, eventually dies of suffocation, and is later eliminated during defecation. The kick is supposedly in the sensation of fur. I am skeptical about this whole damn business. I should note that there are nerve endings only in the lower extremities of the rectum, and thus there is nothing to be gained by shoveling extended families of gerbils into your lower quadrant. A word to the wise.

Complications often occur. Often the rectum and/or anus become lacerated, torn, or infected. (The Manhattan publication "New York Talk" reported about a year ago that New York doctors first caught on to stuffing when they started encountering patients with infections previously found only in rodents.) More generally, chronic insertion of objects (or fists, for that mattter) can result in a flaccid anus, a major turn-off in my book. Cecil sternly advises caution. And stick to mammals your own size.