Degupdate: Dandelion

It’s been a while since we had a degupdate, and to be honest, for a long time I couldn’t bear to look through my phone for pics, because I would keep coming upon pics of sweet Gracie. Even though I know logically that I didn’t do anything wrong, and a veteran degu keeper assured me that so far they always lost animals when socialising new animals, it still broke my heart.

But Candy and Estelle are very happy together. Candy is a very dominant character (and Gracie was as well, which I think doomed the whole thing from the start), while Estelle is a very gentle character and they fit together well without hardly ever even having a mild fight. Now that spring is here it’s time to start feeding them fresh greens, which has to be done carefully, because after a winter of hay and dry feed, switching them to large amounts of fresh green would make them sick. So for the last two weeks or so they have gotten a few leaves of dandelion each day and they agree that its the Best. Thing. Ever.

The pics are all of Candy, because Estelle still is camera shy.

 

 

Candy doesn’t know what shy means. She also doesn’t know what holding still means. Now that they’re fully grown, the differences between the two of them become more visible, at least to their human family. Candy is lighter in her colouration, the ears and feet are sand colour, while Estelle’s are darker.

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And here’s a video of Candy. You can hear the little one in the background doing her “degu voice”.

 

Degupdate: Lady Grace of the Lost Toes

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.

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Gracie, being sneaky

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©Giliell, all rights reserved She’s pretty trusting with us, but the pea chips were not enough to lure her closer

©Giliell, all rights reserved But she found a nut. You can see the missing toe on the hind paw pretty well here. She can still use her front paws to hold food, obviously, and doesn’t seem very bothered by her injuries.

 

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.

Degupdate: Emotionally Overwhelmed Pet Owner

Ok, I’ll admit it: I’m very, very stressed out right now. The USA at the brink of a coup, Covid still raging, and the ministry of education deciding to throw us collectively under the bus (the latest brainfart: if there’s a case in a class, they don’t want to quarantine the whole class, but only “immediate contacts”, because as we all know, 10 years old kids are great at never getting close to each other and staying in their seats for 6 times 45 minutes. It is also absolutely no additional work to teach half the class in school and half the class at home, no sir).

With this as my general anxiety level, and the loss of sweet Katja, I’m basically a helicopter pet mum, but to be honest, Gracie really does her best to freak me out. That’s a degu with a sense for Halloween.

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She’s lucky she’s cute!

After she developed soft stool from the stress of being rehomed, I came up there on Sunday to find her whole side caked with blood. I couldn’t even imagine how that had happened, the degus hadn’t been together, and the cage is safe. I caught her and examined her. The little sweetheart apparently tore a claw, which happens, but is no great injury. But of course it bleeds, and since she sits on her hunches, the blood caked the side of her belly. When I returned an hour later, she’d cleaned herself up again and nothing was seen.

On Monday, the little one came down from feeding them and said that Gracie’s toe had apparently bled again, because there was blood in the water. And I was like “I’ll see to it”, because a droplet of blood should be right invisible in a waterdish. I came up and the whole dish was red. There shouldn’t have been any blood left in the degu to turn the water that colour.

But Gracie appeared to be fine. I got closer, took out the dish and inspected it in better light. Now the orange brown colour of blood turned a more scarlet variety and I found a formerly dried beetroot chip in the dish. She’s been repeating that game. Either she hates beetroot, or she likes her water to be flavoured.

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I now moved the water away form the food. Let’s see if it was an accident or mischief.

On the good news, the running wheel finally arrived. Unfortunately the place we want to put it is currently occupied by Gracie, so they can only use it when out, but they very much like it. It was expensive as fuck, but it will sure last a long time.

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Sorry, no better pic possible at that speed.

 

Degupdate: Hello Gracie

A health degu group  consists of at least three animals, which is why we started out with Candy, Estelle and Katja. After poor little Katja died so early, Candy and Estelle were left alone, which is ok, but not ideal, so we got a third one this Wednesday: please meet Grace, or Gracie as she is affectionately called.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

She is still so tiny, and very shy. Now the degus need to get accustomed to each other, and that takes time, patience and good nerves. Sadly the last element is in short supply right now. We put a fence up between the big part of Degustan and the small adjacent compartment and gave Gracie the small one. They need to get used to each other , so we let them out together yesterday and man, Candy was brutal. She’s the leader of the group and right now, Grace is an intruder who needs to be chased away. Today we didn’t let them out together. they can see each other through the fence, smell each other, and hear each other.

And then I discovered some soft poop in Gracie’s part and nearly freaked out because that was how Katja went. But fortunately our breeder reassured me that for the first few days that’s nothing to worry about. That lady is really how a breeder of pets should be: I can always reach her by mail with my questions, and she’s always happy to receive pics of the degus. She really cares about the animals, not just about some money on the side.

And here’s a bonus pic of Candy, who is lovely, but not the smartest cookie, as she found the jar with the food open, nicked her favourite treat, and then buried it in the jar for later…

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Degupdate Getting Snuggly.

It’s rare for me to like pics of myself. There are hardly any anyway, because I’m usually the camera person, but Candy has gotten me to take selfies. Also, the light in the degu run is pretty flattering, I think, and the degus make me happy, so who cares for the double chin when you got happiness?

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

Estelle is definitely getting more trusting. She comes out almost immediately now, puts her tiny feetses on me and takes treats. Oh, and tries whether my thumb is edible… She is also clearly the clumsy one. Where Candy has added the top of the side track to her territory, Estelle just makes it on top of the box next to it, doesn’t manage to get up and then does a half climb, half jump, half fall off it again. Yes, three halves, that’s how clumsy she is.

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They still make me think of Caine and her kingdom of rats a lot. She would be absolutely delighted with the degus.

Degupdate: Candy Mistaking Herself for a Cat

Apparently degus and cats share a tendency to climb up things they then have problems getting down again… I’ll have to take some measures to prevent them from breaking their neck, as Estelle managed to get into the “storage” compartment on top of Degustan and then fall most of the way down…

In the first video you can see Candy trying to jump onto the side track of Degustan where the food is kept.

In the second video she managed to get onto it, and up the side of Degustan. We quickly needed to make that top “degusafe” after that.

Here’s a triumphant Candy with a well deserved stolen treat…

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

They’re also trying hard to gnaw their way out of the enclosure. They’ll find out I have more hinges than that…

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And finally, our “latest degu”: Sugar, a giant crochet degu. There’s a distinctive lack of degu plushies on the market, but thankfully somebody on etsy sold a crochet pattern, so I made one for the little one’s birthday (Happy birthday my love!). While this is meant for small amigurumi projects, that wool was just too amazing.

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Degupdate: A New Sand Bath

We decided to get them a different sand bath on our recent trip to Ikea, because the big round plate was less than ideal. I hoped that a higher rim would prevent “spills” but it merely slightly reduces them. Anyway, the degus really like it. They need sand baths to keep clean and prevent/get rid of parasites and they obviously also quite enjoy them. They also like digging a lot.

I decided to shoot a short video, because it’s just over-cute.

Here’s some more pics. Estelle almost dares to take treats from me, and she is now ok with putting her front paws against my leg. She will come out more quickly, at least as long as the rest of the room is quiet.

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Estelle, being unsure, deciding to wait for Candy to take the treats and bury them. Given that Estelle is the larger of the two, I’m pretty sure she gets her share of treats.

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Estelle, trying the bath

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Candy, stealing all the treats.

Degupdate: They Do Run Run Run, They Do Run, Run, Run

The new degu run is set up now and Candy just loves getting out. When we come to Degustan she’ll go downstairs and wait for the door to be opened. then she takes a longer or shorter stroll before returning. By now she has deemed me fully safe. The degus love to run, and in doing so, they slow me down, as I spend some time sitting quietly.

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We tied a few old T-shirts against the door to close the gap so no degu gets hurt falling down. Of course they#re also playthings and the string is a highly sought plaything.

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Looks like a leaf but isn’t edible! Cheating!

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Hi friends!

Estelle is coming around. Candy does actively encourage her to go outside and today she even sniffed my hand. We’re getting there.

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The obvious advantage is that it’s much easier to take pics of careful Estelle than of whirlwind Candy.

But talking about “sitting down”: As I sat crosslegged today for 45 minutes, barely moving, I managed to cut off circulation in my feet to the extend that when I got up, I fell flat on my ass again. Thankfully the degus were inside by then and all I suffered was a laughing attack at my own stupidity and a headache.

Degupdate: Snugglebeasties and DIY

Slowly, the reality of having degus is getting us. No matter how much you read, it’s never going to come close. First of all, the two remaining degus have completely different characters. Candy will come to my hand as soon as I open the door and see if there’s a treat for her. I think before long she’ll ride on our shoulders.

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As a result, Estelle is often missing out on the best treats. She still vanishes either inside the house or behind it and will not move any closer to us. Best we managed so far is that she no longer whistles in panic all the time. I try to place the treat near her while Candy is nibbling hers so she can get her nut as well.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

It’s not like I’m worried about her. She’s obviously growing and in good shape, her fur is shiny and silky, and when I sit down and just watch from a distance, she is active and interacting with Candy.

©Giliell, all rights reserved The picture quality is sadly very bad as there wasn’t much light.

I love watching them. I just sit in an armchair for 15 minutes and watch them “talk” to each other, take a sand bath, or try to destroy Degustan. It’s so relaxing. It also makes me think of Caine a lot and her ratitude.

But talking about the reality: The People Who Tell You About Degus insisted that you can let them run in your room for an hour every day. After the two escapes by Estelle and the one by Candy it’s become clear that this is not an option. The room has way too many places where a degu can vanish and even possibly hurt herself. Also capturing them before they’re totally tame would always mean extreme amounts of stress for the degus, not to mention the risk of being savaged by degu teeth. But there’s also useful ideas on the internet and one lady just built a barrier to give them a bigger run but also protect the room.

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It’s foldable and can be put away when not needed, but I’ll need to do something about the light.

Oh,a nd since the temperatures are getting lower, I bought them a “snuggle safe” heating pad. It gets heated in the microwave and then keeps the warmth for several hours. I much prefer that to a heating lamp, especially over night or when we’re not home. The degus absolutely love it and I can only recommend it if your pet could do with a how water bottle occasionally.

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A Painful and Exhausted Degupdate

Last night I lost it. The last two weeks were bad, bad, with both my parents having some major health issues, my aunt being an asshole and the Katja dying and right now I’m really, really  protective of the other two degus, so when last night Estelle escaped and was nowhere to be found, I really found the end of my tether. I did something I haven’t done in 21 years of relationship: I called Mr home (poor guy had just left a couple of hours before because he had to take the kid to a medical appointment). Find yourself a guy who’ll take a 200km round trip to give you a hug.

Finally I found Estelle in the Little One’s wardrobe, under the socks drawer. How she got in there? Your guess is as good as mine.

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Estelle is also generally very shy and quiet. She doesn’t yet take treats from us and cusses me out whenever I try to offer her some. And she’ll just sit motionlessly in a corner when there’s something she doesn’t like, so while the Little One came downstairs for my help, she somehow got into that wardrobe and stayed very still. After we finally found her, we had to get her back. In the end I caught her and she very much did not agree with me.

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Degu teeth are sharp. If something like a thumb piercing existed I could have inserted one, because the teeth met in the middle of my thumb. At least it bled nicely, as you can see, so there’s little risk of infection.

Today we had the big cage cleaning and both degus don’t agree with being confined to the small left side, so Estelle used the opportunity so simply jump over my head, run down my back and escape again. This time I caught her with a towel and banished her to an old wine box for the time of cleaning. Candy simply stayed inside, but we cleaned like the devil was on our tail and by the end of it I was covered in sweat and litter.

©Giliell, all rights reserved Estelle, looking very suspicious at my hand. At this point she hadn’t found out how tasty I apparently am.

 

A Very Sad Degupdate

Our sweet Katja didn’t make it. After I was ever so carefully hopeful last night, she died this morning. Apparently her intestine had been too damaged already and she died this morning in the little one’s hands. Yesterday the vet said that there was probably something wrong with her apart from the infection, because she was the runt of the litter and the difference between her and her litter mate Estelle had become ever more apparent.

In the end it was probably double bad luck: Having a birth defect and a very inexperienced Degu owner who didn’t notice her problems soon enough. We did our best. I don’t know if somebody else’s best would have been good enough, ours wasn’t.

Farewell, my sweet girl.

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I also have the sweetest kid in the world. When she cried in my arms this morning she asked me why I wasn’t crying. I told her it was because I was comforting her. She went back to cry, but stopped after a minute or so to tell me “it’s ok, mummy, you can cry now and I’ll comfort you”, at which point all floodgates were opened.