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Degu, adoption to two very amusing pets

Updated on December 28, 2016

Degus settling into their new enclosure

Ash in his enclosure
Ash in his enclosure | Source
Gogo on the bridge
Gogo on the bridge | Source
Degu enclosure
Degu enclosure | Source

Degu diary

Degu's are wonderful creatures who amaze and amuse in equal measure. The are so intelligent in their activities and methodical in their approach, I have been fascinated by all their mannerisms since adopting two, two and a half year old degu's almost three weeks ago. I've had small rodents for years but never anything bigger than hamsters (unless you count Alsatians, rottweilers and assorted cats over the years). I knew nothing of these small bundles of fun before apart from seeing them in pets shops, so where can you find relevant information for these unusual pets?

A quick search online showed up numerous and contradictory information. Some sites recommended tall cages, others long ones. Some experts said degu's never climb tress with a quote saying have you ever seen a degu in a tree? that's why you need flat surfaces. Another site, with pictures of degus up trees said only have vertical cages. Shops online and in the real world sell a variety of cages but none seemed to fit the lengthy lists described by the degu lovers so I started to build my own to fit the needs of the animal.

Ash and Gogo playing in their cage

I made the biggest I could with the space and resources I had, it measures 120cm long, 48cm wide and 90cm tall over three levels and a climbing wall and tree. (I'll post on a spate page a building guide if anyone is interested). I tiled the lowest level with clay tiles as I knew degu's over heat in hot weather, the tiles will always be colder than the rest of the cage and will offer an area the degu's can stay if its too hot for them. The ramp to and fro this area can be position to close the opening between levels so they can stay in the cold - I built this in to help with cleaning as the bottom section has its own door, this way I can sweep through the cage without any escapes, although with the nature of my two degu's this isn't an issue for me.

Gogo by his wheel next to the ramp to the lowest level of the cage.

there is also another full length shelf where they moved their house, so I've left it here. An apple wood branch as a ladder to the next shelf and a metal exercise wheel.

Degu's love to chew so the inside has kiln dried timer battens (planed) across all interior joins so they can be replaced if nibbling occurs.

Gogo on the top shelf over the bridge where they hide their food.

The rest of the cage has plenty of toys and enrichment which I will talk about in future posts.

The degu's themselves were checked out for infections before I took them from Petsathome, but they came from a home where they were never handled, so they were very unsure when we tried to get them from the petsathome cage into a carry cage and they were too nervous around me at home to be handled.

I spent the first two weeks letting them settle in with minimal threatening contact. I would open the two big doors of the cage to let them come out if they wanted to as the room they are in is used to tame gerbils and hamsters playing (not at the same time I might add) but to this date they are more than happy to remain in their cage.

Today though I had a bit of a break through, for the last week I've been putting a small amount of their favourite plant and petal treats onto my palm and Ash has sat on my open palm nibbling them, He was taking a bit after a long pause before running back to his bed box to eat it, Gogo is more timid than his brother and has only join him in the treats over the last couple of days.

Ash today sat on my palm and nibbled through his treat without running back, so I am hoping they can be tamed and enjoy a run around outside their cage soon.

As there are a lot of differing information sources, and as I do not want to inadvertently hurt or mistreat my two new pets, I will try and make a few pages about food, habitat and health of these wonderful creatures so it is easier for others to understand and care for their new pets.

Oh, there will be a lot of new pictures too.

If you have any questions you'll like answered or information that could help me or others, then please leave it below.

Three weeks of degu ownership later

The degu enclosure 1220mm x 500mm x 900mm with clay tile flooring on lower level for coolness in hot weather
The degu enclosure 1220mm x 500mm x 900mm with clay tile flooring on lower level for coolness in hot weather | Source
Ash eating from my hand after a couple of weeks paitence
Ash eating from my hand after a couple of weeks paitence | Source
Ash in his nest box
Ash in his nest box | Source
Christmas treat, Hay and puffed rice stick, eagerly devoured
Christmas treat, Hay and puffed rice stick, eagerly devoured | Source

Three weeks of degu ownership later

Three weeks into the degu discovery and they are both masters of thier habitat. They have climbed every ladder and defficated on every ledge, hiding hole and den. But they are too scared to venture out of their cage onto the floor.

Ash and Gogo were at some point between their second and third birthdays when I adopted them from PetsAtHome, where the staff assured me they had been well looked after and handled daily, although healthy in themselves I have not seen any evidence they two small creatures had been socialised.

Saying that, with a little patience I can now hold them on my open hand (if there is any treats left) but they run if a hand is placed within the cage the other way around. I think children my have had grabs at them at their last home which was not welcomed by the pets. But with anything they should hopefully come around.

A Christmas present from a friend went down very well. Hay and puffed rice sticks were collected by each degu and nibbled furiously for well over ten minutes before each ran to their favourite hiding spots and buried the remaining treats safely away. Also a new colourful coconut hanger (which I stuff with hay mixed with flower treats for them to forage and discover) have been a fantastic success, all the hay goes straight to their bedbox and the flowers either eaten or stashed for later in the sawdust piles.

Degu's are by nature inquisitive and the new toys have got them very excited. Its fantastic to watch and new toys are being planned to enrich their environment so they always have something new to explore.

The bedbox is all natural materials woven into a large box with two openings and big enough for them to stretch out in comfort together. They eat their treats in here but surprisingly they do not store food here. This they leave to places around the enclosure that they pile up wood chips and hay before burying the hay cookies or alfalpha cakes.

Hopefully next Christmas day's post will proudly show a photo of the two delightful degus sat on my shoulders.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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