63 4. Compare/Contrast, Sample 2
This essay uses the Alternating Pattern. How might you rewrite this using the case pattern?
Hamsters and gerbils: not as similar as you may think
Hamsters and gerbils have both been cherished as pets for decades and decades. They are soft, cuddly creatures that provide their owners with hours of entertainment and laughter. They are considered members of the rodent family, but their characteristics put them high above the negative connotations associated with their cousins, rats and mice. Hamsters and gerbils have a lot in common, but they have many differences as well.
Affection the two animals provide is one area where there are many similarities and differences. Both species love attention and appreciate being handled on a regular basis. They will both sit in their owner’s hand without trying to escape and seem to enjoy being rubbed behind their ears. My pet hamster, Gabriel, would often watch television with me for hours; he was so content with being held that I would often forget he was there. My gerbil, Igor, was especially fond of having his belly rubbed and would lie on his back anticipating a friendly massage. Hamsters, however, are a bit more aggressive and might nip at an owner’s hand if handled for extended periods of time. Gerbils will eventually fall asleep if held for an extended time. I learned not to become upset those few times when Gabriel took an unexpected nibble of my fingertips and would simply return him to his cage when he seemed ready for a break from me. Igor never showed any signs of aggression; I don’t think he would even try to hurt a flea.
They also share an ability to learn tricks, though hamsters do appear to be somewhat more intelligent than gerbils. The hamster can learn to stand on its hind legs on command and can learn to come when called for. I often enjoyed playing hide and seek with Gabriel, enjoying with pleasure his attempts to find the snacks I had placed in hiding spots throughout his habitat. Gerbils have been known to roll over on command and will sometimes come when called for. I never had to reach for Igor when I wanted to take him out of the cage. I would simply whistle, and he would come to me. Hamsters, however, seem to remember simple commands once they are learned and can be trained to obey for their lifetime. Gerbils have to be re-oriented with commands every few weeks and will forget how to do a trick if commands are not repeated regularly. I owned Gabriel for three years, and he never once forgot what my signal was for begging for treats, but in the four years that Igor lived, he would often forget what my whistle meant until I re-taught him the trick.
Finally, hamsters and gerbils will both find ways to escape their cages if given a chance, but hamsters are more likely to return than gerbils. Both species do develop a connection with their “quarters,” whether it’s a basic metal cage, a glass aquarium or a fancy condominium complete with tubing from several different areas. They feel most at ease when they are in the confines of their homes, but if a cage door is left open and unattended, they will make a mad dash for freedom. Both the hamster and the gerbil will immediately search for cover once they realize they are outside of their normal confines, often choosing to hide beneath furniture or behind appliances. However, the hamster often returns to the cage once it becomes hungry while the gerbil usually will learn to fend for itself in the wild, even if the wild is beneath the kitchen floorboards. Gabriel escaped twice from his home, but he returned during the night each time. I simply had to leave his cage door open. Although Igor never escaped or got lost, I was extra careful with him because I knew he would probably not be found if he did leave his home unsupervised.
When choosing whether to purchase a hamster or a gerbil, it is wise to consider how much time you may have for your new pet. Hamsters need much more attention and supervision, while gerbils will offer their share of affection but will also be just as happy fending for themselves. Giving either species the time and effort each deserves is the best way to ensure your pet lives a long, comfortable life.