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A lonely boy?
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TOPIC: A lonely boy?

A lonely boy? 1 year, 4 months ago #1

Hi all,

My name is Tristan and I've had my boy (Knuckles) for around 3 years now. I got him from the Pets At home adoption centre, he was originally part of a pair but the owner took them back as they were apparently fighting all the time.
I sometimes worry he's lonely, but I do make a lot of fuss about him. He has a nice large cage to himself and occasionally runs around in a ferret-size running ball.
He likes to run around on my shoulder and absolutely adores having his tummy, chin, under his front legs and behind his ears rubbed - and grooms my hand back afterwards. I'd like him to happily hop onto my hand and come out though.
He's been scared a few times though when he's escaped and I've had to grab him.
He's also seriously addicted to pistaacio nuts, he goes mental for them haha.

Re: A lonely boy? 1 year, 3 months ago #2

Hello Tristan,
Ideally Degus should be kept in groups of 2 or more, but by the sounds of it your doing a great job keeping your pet happy on his own
Sadly some will not live in groups through thier aggressive nature towards others, no matter how hard you try to introduce them, but the trust your pet shows in letting you rub and play on your shoulders shows you couldn't be doing any better
Owner of Degu World.com

Re: A lonely boy? 1 year, 3 months ago #3

Thanks for that

I know they like to be kept in groups, but I think that when he was in his original home with another degu he was probably the picked-on one, as he is very placid and has a couple of holes that look like bite marks in his ears.
He has only ever bitten me once, as I'm sure anyone with a degu who has had it escape before will know they're tricky to catch - I grabbed him harder than he would have liked and he sunk his teeth in.
I didn't yell or punish him, in fact I gave him plenty of treats to show I was sorry.

I don't think I'll ever risk getting another degu and introduce them; as I could end up with 2 lonely degus then if they didn't get on. I did introduce him to my girlfriend's 2 gerbils once though. I'd been letting them sniff each other a few times, then I let them all have a bath in the same sand (seperately) and introduced them in the (empty) bathtub.
They didn't really pay each other much attention though; running around like the other wasn't there. Then my degu tried to hump the stronger gerbil (presumably in a display of dominance) and I seperated them again.

He is a proper little drama queen at times though, he has such sulky moods sometimes, others he's raring to run around and/escape haha.

I wish he would willingly hop onto my hands though the timid little blighter lol.

Re: A lonely boy? 4 months ago #4

When my girls escape, or if they do not want to go back into their cage when I have a time deadline after they have been running around in their playpen, I put a tube they're used to on the floor and they go right into it. If necessary, I can put some treats into the tube as an additional enticement. However, the tube mimics the safety of a burrow in their natural habitat. Then I can pick up the tube with them in it and put it back into the cage (or slide them gently into the cage). Of course, when I pick up the tube with them in it, I block the ends so they cannot fall out and hurt themselves during the transportation process.

I think it is always sad to hear of or to see a degu by itself. I understand your situation and believe you are doing an excellent job of caring for your degu. And human companionship is an important component of a happy degu's life. However, human companionship cannot replace the company of another degu. Degus cannot speak/communicate with humans (or other species) the way they communicate with each other. As you probably know, they have that little worble/chirpy sound they use with each other when they are grooming, cuddling, etc. Also, a degus ears cannot be cleaned by a human as they are too sensitive. And a degu cannot clean its own ears. Only another degu can clean a degu's ears. Cuddling is another thing that degus do with each other that cannot be done with a human in the same way.
The only way to demonstrate would be to ask you how you would feel if an alien picked you up and put you in their home and/or a big cage. Perhaps you and the alien could understand some things each other tried to communicate to the other. In fact, the alien may treat you very well and may provide you with all your physical comforts. However you still would be in a foreign/alien land, and you would still long for the company and cameraderie of another human being.
I found that it was easy to introduce a baby (i.e. two-month old) degu to an older (two years old) degu, because there was no competition for dominance. This might be a suggestion for you to try (of course with degus of the same gender).

Re: A lonely boy? 3 months, 4 weeks ago #5

Yeah I know what you mean and I've looked up that introducing pups is much easier (better to introduce 2 or more so when the original one dies I'm not left in the same situation again) however the girlfriend has categorically insisted I'm not to get any pups (which I think is completely unfair).
I tried to introduce him to the 2 gerbils gradually, in the same way one would introduce new adults (kept nearby, bathed in the same scented dust etc). It may sound like a daft idea but it's not unheard of for different species to get on, and I've heard of a few degus and chinchillas living together so I thought I'd give it a go.
The first time they just completely seemed unaware of each other. The second time the degu tried humping the gerbils (I imagine in a display of dominance) but other than that the occasional sniffing it was business as usual.
The third time though one of the gerbils decided to take an inquisitive nibble at the degu's tail and then the pair chased him behind a cushion (on the couch). I picked him back up and have given up on the idea.
It shocked me as he's bigger than the pair of them put together, much stronger and faster, so I thought if anything it would be him attacking them; just goes to show how big of a softie he is.

If I did try to sneakily introduce a pair of pups - how would be the best way to do it? He's about 4 years old now so my girlfriend's main argument is it would be too stressful for him to have company introduced, plus he's so soft I worry the pups may fight him for dominance when they grow up and they could hurt/kill him and that would be devastating as I really love the little guy to bits.

Advice would be really appreciated.

Re: A lonely boy? 3 months, 4 weeks ago #6

Hi, I can only share my experience with you. My boyfriend had a lonely girl degu. We don't know how old she is -- probably about 2 years old. He got it because his daughter had too many animals. The poor degu was quite neglected, so I essentially have adopted the degu (Pamela). I bought her a very big cage, made two exercise wheels out of cake tins and lazy susan bearings, put lots of Timothy Hay in her cage, got proper degu pellets for her food, bought a dehydrator so I can dehydrate fresh vegetables and flowers for her food, bought her a variety of seeds, nuts and other treats to supplement her food, started growing plants that can be put in her cage for eating, created a digging box so she can dig burrows and sleep in them, scatter seeds in the cage so she can forage as degus do in the wild, built a playpen so she can be taken out of her cage once or twice a day to run around, got her a dust bowl, got lots of wood (both purchased and found) for her cage, and generally love her with all my heart. As part of this process I decided it was absolutely necessary to get another degu to keep her company. So I found someone that had accidentally bred degus (from non-family member degus) and I got a baby (two-month old) degu. When I brought her to meet Pamela, it was amazing. The baby spoke with Pamela constantly. They took to each other immediately and I was able to put them together after the first night. I was prepared to spend a few days to a week introducing them but that was not necessary (you can see my full discussion of the introduction on the website www.degus-international.org. My boyfriend did not want me to get another degu, but I set it up so it is not any more work for him to have one than it is to have two. I do not see how I could have done anything. Pamela now is clearly much more happy than she has ever been. Not only does she have all the things a captive degu should have, but she has a companion. I did it despite the will of my boyfriend and he even now admits that Pamela is happier because she has a "buddy". I think that sometimes we need to do what is right for animals that depend on us, regardless of what other people think.

I would also suggest that you might like to become a member of the forum at www.degus-international.com There are many people with much more experience with degus than I, and they may be able to give you more creative solutions to your problem. Similarly, the forum on www.degutopia.co.uk has many people with more experience with degus than I who can help you also.

Hugs to you and your boy. I wish you both the best in the world.
The following user(s) said Thank You: trismotteram
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