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I'VE READ EVERYTHING ON THE WEBSITE, AND I STILL DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO!

This website has been active now since January 2004, and in that time I have received quite a few emails asking various questions.
While I am happy to answer any emails, I like to give a detailed response, and feel that I canít always reply soon enough for the best care some Degus need.

Please note that my information has all been gathered personally. I have kept Deguís since 1999 and all the knowledge that I have has been obtained through reading as much information as I could gather, and through trial and error from personal experience.

My vet showed me just what the amount of information that British vets had totalled, and it took me all of 3 minutes to read! Thatís why this website was started.

This page is a collection of all the emails that I have received since the website became active. I have kept them anonymous and tried my best to give as detailed a response as I could. If this page doesnít answer your question, please contact me!!

Click the buttons below to jump to questions on that topic

Health Sexing Companions General

HEALTH QUESTIONS

Health Question
What would cause a Deguís ears to become almost torn around the edges, almost like they have a fungus or something? I have taken it to the vet, who is not sure what it is, there is not much information on health of these darling animals and even the vets do not know what to do.
Answer:

Gromit suffered from very tatty ears until we introduced Marmalade. From my own experience I think that Gromit couldnít clean his ears on his own, hence the horrid state they got to. I even attempted to gently clean them myself, but because the skin is so very thin, I was scared of hurting him! When Marmalade arrived, they spent many hours grooming, and we soon noticed a big improvement!! It would seem that a companion is the answer to everything! See companion questions!

 

Health Question
I have a problem with one of my Degus: she is less than a year old. she is going white on her head, belly, and around her neck. she is still eating and running in her wheel but she is all fluffed up and she always has her eyes closed.

I know she isnít feeling well but the vet doesnít know what could be wrong with her.

my other degus are doing great and I havenít had a problem with them.

Answer:

This poor Degu has me really confused. I have contacted my own vet, but no luck so far. I have posted this question as although she sadly died soon after, we really would like to find out what the cause was, and hopefully prevent any further cases. If anyone has any ideas, please please contact me.

SEXING DEGU QUESTIONS

Sexing Degus Question
Our two Degus have recently had 6 babies. We've had the male neutered now. But we are having problems sexing the babies. We know what the difference is but canít tell with ours. One minute we think they are all boys the next, we think a couple of them could be girls. The vet has only seen Degus a few times so he's no use.

We've read details and seen pictures but we don't want any more little accidents.

Answer:

This is probably the best way to sex any Degu. It's difficult to see if a Degu is male or female. There's only one way to see what sex a Degu has. You have to look at the distance between the Deguís anus and its sexual organ. Female Degus have a small distance between these two, and males have a relatively big distance. The sexual organ is a little protuberance with both males and females, although it's a bit bigger with fertile males.

COMPANION QUESTIONS

Companion Question
My friend found a Degu in a botanical garden in Montreal. It's a male. Can I adopt another male so he won't be alone?
Answer:

Most certainly!! No Degu should be left alone, they can be found in families of up to 100 in the wild! All of my Degus were introduced as individuals, so there is little problem in doing so. You should follow these steps:

1. make sure you keep to one sex to keep fighting to a minimum and limit any possibly unwanted babies.

2. create a separate section to the cage, with a strong mesh divide, this means that the original Degu can smell and sniff the new one, but not be able to bite them, and vice versa.

3. ensure the separate section gives the new Degu and original Degu access to food, water, bedding and some space.

4. allow about a week for the Degu to become familiar. If possible, in this time let them meet in neutral territory, such as when you get them out, get them out together so they can meet quietly.

5. the big step. Put them together. Prior to this put them into carry cages, and thoroughly clean the cage. This means it wont smell of one Degu and not the other. Allow them to meet.

6. ensure you add a dust bath. This means they can both roll in it and smell similar.

7. wait and give them time. They will fight initially to determine who is dominant. Persistant and severe fighting may mean they just donít get on, in which case you will need to house them separately.

 

Companion Question
I have recently acquired a single female Degu and after reading that you had introduced a lone male to another, I was wondering if the same would be possible with females?
Answer: quite simply, YES! Read the detail above!

 

Companion Question
My Degu's are about 4 months old, and we've had them for about three.
And they are both males, and keep fighting, and one is more dominant than the other, and therefore gets more food, and gets what-ever he wants, can I do anything to stop this? Or is it just something that all Degu's go and it's just they're nature?
 
Answer: They are at a perfect age now. In Degu age they are teenagers. This means that they need to decide who is going to be boss! So don't worry about them fighting, this is quite natural, just keep an eye that nobody gets too injured.  It could be a good idea to get some "bog wood" available from garden centres, that you can secure in the cage. This is for several reasons.
If they cant stand on anything except bars they can develop something called Bumble Foot. This can be very painful and something your Degu shouldn't have to get!!! If you get some bog wood, this also acts as the bosses pile of sticks!!! In the wild the Degu builds a pile of sticks near his burrow. If his pile of sticks is bigger than his neighbours pile of sticks, then he is boss! So in your cage, the boss Degu will be the one who can sit highest on the wood! So its a good idea to get a piece that they can climb.  Have a look at some of the pictures on my website, there are lots of pieces of bog wood for them to sit on!
The fighting should stop in time when they have worked out who is boss, so don't worry about it too much! But there is lots of info on my site if you are worried, and feel free to contact me if you have any more questions!

 

Companion Question
I am just wondering if you have any idea if a rat will get on ok with a Degu? I had rats for ages and decided to keep Degus instead. unfortunately I prefer rats but my final Degu is getting lonely. Do you have any suggestions on what other types of animals would mix well with him?
Answer:

Regarding keeping a Degu with a rat, I can say from the Degu's point of view, that if you follow the introduction guide on this page, a Degu will have no problem living with another species.  They have been successfully kept with Chinchillas, rabbits and guinea-pigs as far as I am aware. I have not heard of the success of keeping them with rats, but as you would know more about rats, you could judge the success from that side of things.

The only problems there could be would be due to space. And as someone recently suggested to me, the times during which each species sleeps. If at different times this could cause some problems. Also I would be concerned due to the differences in food requirements, as you will know from the website, a Degu cant eat sugar! But keep all that in mind and I'm sure it would be fine!

 

Companion Question
I just bought my first Degu and when I purchased it at the Pet store I was told to feed it hamster food and that I didn't need a mate and now I look on some sites and they are telling me different could you please help me out by telling which I should feed. and If I need 2.
Answer:

I bought my first Degu with another, but they fought terribly for the next three days. not knowing anything about Degus, we returned him to the pet shop, and kept one.  This Degu became somewhat of a guinea-pig.  As I said, I had never kept Degus, and the information I could find was limited. Needless to say, very sadly Gizmo died just a year later.  I had however fallen in love with these wonderful little creatures, and set out to acquire another.  Again, I came home with just one, but this time I did far more research. Yes, it is true that Degus need company. But don't fear. Gromit was a year old when we introduced Marmalade.  This was done by dividing the cage with a wire fence. (more detailed explanation on my website). A week later they were put together, and were very happy. 9 months more down the line, and we bought a 3rd Degu. So yes, I would say that they should be kept with company, but it is very easy to introduce new companions at a later stage.

 

Companion Question
Due to fighting between my two male Degus i decided the best course of action was to put one with each of my females then get the males neutered. I took them to the vets on Friday unfortunately disaster has struck one of my boys died after he woke up from the op, then my other boy died this morning. So I'm left with two pregnant females can they be safely reintroduced to each other or are they likely to kill each others babies
Answer:

I was most upset when I received this email. Unfortunately, it is always a risk when small animals need an anaesthetic, and in this case it was a double tragedy.

However, on a positive note, putting pregnant females together is no problem, indeed they should help each other in raising the young as one large group, taking it in turns to guard and feed the whole litter. The same process with introducing any Degu must be followed, especially so when a female will be naturally wary in order to keep her young safe.

 

Companion Search!
I have just come across your web site which I have found quite informative. I am wondering if you know of anywhere in the North West of England where I might find two male baby Degus. I currently have two males but they are of different ages so I would like to introduce some babyís before it gets to the point when one will be left on his own as I know they are very social animals and I do not like to see any animal alone.
Answer: This is just how I felt with my boys Gromit and Marmalade, hence the arrival of Charlie! I have now added a forum, so post on there and hopefully someone will be able to help!

GENERAL QUESTIONS

General Question
I am writing on behalf of my friend who does not have access to the internet but does have a Degu. She has asked me to try to track down anyone/anywhere she could actually write to (With pens & paper the good old fashioned way) asking any various Degu questions etc. Could you help or do you know anyone who may be able to?
Answer:

While I would like to be able to help, in todayís rather depressing world, I donít feel I can give away my address. I have had several requests like this; PLEASE donít ask me as I donít like having to say no. I am happy to discuss in detail via email, or on the forum, (sunshinemeg) but nothing more than this Iím afraid.

 

General Question
We just purchased two degus , they get along great so far.
We have noticed that they don't really want to be handled. will this change in time. We have a lot of love to give. One has already bitten myself and they tend to want to explore our hands with their teeth. Will it take some time to build a relationship.  
 
Answer:

In a word, YES! It WILL take time for your Degus to get used to you. Let them get used to your smell, and allow them to groom your hands, although beware about them getting over enthusiastic! In time they should allow you to get closer to them. Don't try and pick them up from above, as this will scare them, but scoop them up, completely putting your hands around them from the sides!!

 

General Question
my Degus are about 7months and havent showed any interest in their wheel are they to young to care about it or just don't like it?
Answer:
Regarding the wheel, I too tried one, and they simply decided to eat it rather than play on it. I think it really is a matter of preference, even for such small creatures!!  try giving them other things to play with. I often take a 6 space cardboard egg carton and pop bran flakes into it and then pack it with bedding before shutting it and popping it in the cage. They spend the next hour trying to get to the treats and destry the egg carton in the process!