As I mentioned before, the little one passed all the requirements for owning pets, and after we spent the summer researching and finding a good breeder, as well as me spending a couple of weeks turning an old cupboard into a pet habitat, the degus finally arrived on Wednesday. They are three young females (three being the minimum size of a group) called Candy, Katja and Estelle. Katja and Estelle are siblings, while Candy comes from a different litter, but they are very close in age so they were easy to socialise (the breeder did that for us) and are a good basis for a group.
But let’s start with the habitat, nicknamed “Degustan”:
I cut an opening into my grandma’s old kitchen cupboard, put some solid fence in front of it and added boards to get a good size habitat. I also used the leftover boards to construct a side tract which increases the habitat size, but can also be used to isolate a degu should the need arise (and currently to keep them from escaping while cleaning the cage).
What sounds pretty straightforward was a hell lot of work, usually because I had to do everything at least twice since I was figuring it out as I went along. All boards have floor tiles on them to prevent urine from soaking into the wood and allow for easy cleaning. At the first try the tile glue soaked the wood too much and my boards bent. The second time I didn’t measure the depth in the cupboard, which was already upstairs, but in the extension, not realising that I’d changed width and depth. Now there’s a gap between the boards and the door, which can be dangerous for the degus, so I have now tied old t-shirts on the door to close the gap. And that’s just one of the many things that went wrong, but now it’s more or less finished and I’m pretty proud of it.I still have to make a running wheel for them, but that’s a project for next week.
Here’s the part you’ve been waiting for: the Degus
I still don’t have very good pics, also not of all of them. They are still very shy and mostly try to hide, though there are already differences noticeable. First, meet Candy. Of course I have an earworm ever since the little one announced the name, and now you have, too.
Candy is the bold one. She was the first to leave the pet carrier and explore the new habitat. Whenever there’s a disturbance that sends them off hiding (which currently is still mostly “us existing in proximity”) she’s the first to re-emerge and get back to whatever she’d been doing. She also already escaped once and it was quite some work to catch her, especially since we didn’t want to scare or hurt her by grabbing her. Finally we managed to shoo her unto a towel where I then lifted the sides. Once they are accustomed to us they’ll be allowed to run in the room for some time each day, but until they are comfortable with us they need to stay in the habitat.
She’s loud. When we fixed the shirts to the cage door she kept yelling at us. She’s also very shy and mostly snuggles with Katja. Which was our first clue on how to tell them apart. Also Estelle’s light marks around the eyes are a bit larger than Candy’s. Katja (no pics yet) is easier to tell apart (at least at the moment), because she is still smaller than the other two. As you can imagine, I’m quite in love with them. I think Caine would have loved them, too, they’re obviously her kind of people.