You know that we’ve been having lots of worries with our newest degu, Gracie. A new degu needs to be integrated into a group carefully, as they are very territorial. If you just put a new degu into a habitat, the result will often be a dead degu, so we separated Candy and Estelle from Gracie by means of a fence between their part of the habitat and Gracie’s. That way they can see, smell and hear each other and get used to each other.
A couple of days after Grace moved in, I found her foot bleeding with what we thought was a torn claw. Our breeder assured us that this was a common injury acquired while playing and no need for worries. A few days later another foot was hurt and I thought “hmmm, maybe the fence has an unsafe place?” and yes, since everything there is made from leftover material, the new fence wasn’t sitting plain, which created a narrowing gap where she could get stuck with her feet. I fixed that by adding another piece of wood in front, and it looked like it worked, but then came another injury. I was both worried as well as puzzled. Was there yet another gap where she could injure herself? Did she maybe hurt herself because she was still not integrated into the group, like we may bite nails? I contacted our breeder again and she didn’t have any more ideas either. I was about to go out and buy another cage and possibly another degu to start a second group for poor Gracie when I finally found out what happened: Whenever her feet had mostly healed, Grace would go to the fence that separates them and climb there. Then Candy would come and bite her feet, and because those incisors are sharp as hell, she’d take off the first knuckle. That way poor Gracie lost several toes. But at least now we knew what was happening and I put up another fence on the other side so Candy cannot reach Grace at all. Whenever Candy and Estelle are out, we have to put a piece of wood in front of Gracie’s door so Candy cannot reach her there.
It looks like Grace is finally healing, and I still love Candy to death (can’t blame a degu for being a degu), but I really could do with some good developments here. I’m still keeping them separated until Grace has fully healed and then we’ll have to see. Currently there seem to be two possibilities: Either they do finally get used to each other, or I’ll have to start a second group. I will also probably have to make the habitat more accessible for Gracie, because I don’t think she’ll be able to climb as well as the others with basically half a front paw missing. I feel bad about her having lost those toes while under our care, but I swear to the Great Degu, I always did my best. Anyway, she’s cute, and active, and curious. She grows and her fur is shiny and sleek, so I think she will grow up a strong degu.
Estelle, btw, is an absolutely chill degu by now. I think she has realised that she has a warm, safe home, always enough food, and doesn’t care at all about her place in the pecking order. Here’s her and Candy running in the running wheel.