Introducing Male degus to one another - Paw Talk - Pet Forums
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-04-2005, 10:17 AM Thread Starter
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Question Introducing Male degus to one another

Hi,

Following the death of one of my degus (Ben), i am more keen to introduce his friend Jerry to my other two degus (Rum and Raisin).
They had all been kept together in one cage, but seperated with mesh down the centre so they have had plenty of time to get to know each other, and seem interested in one another. I have recently amended this cage layout so they have access to one another, but can be seperated again if necessary. They have been like this for 7 months +.

Unfortunately, all attempts to introduce Jerry to R&R have ended up with fur and blood being shed on both parts, and lots of fighting. Jerry is 1-2years old, whilst R&R are 2-3years old, and Jerry was the dominant male of him and Ben. When they are seperated, they always look like they want to play, but after 10 minutes (and after a bit of lighthearted fighting) it can get quite nasty.

I don't want Jerry to have to spend the rest of his life on his own, so could you please advise me on any techniques for helping them get on. Also, what are good signs (squeaking/body language) and what are bad signs?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-04-2005, 11:11 AM
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You have to remember that it can be hard to introduce male degus to one another as they can be very stubborn and very territorial over their space but it can be done with time, patience and a lot of effort. I have successfully done it twice now myself but i have only ever introduced one degu at a time to one another so it was a little different as not as much conflict to consider. The first thing to think of is remembering Rum and Raisin come as a unit and Jerry is an outsider to them so they might not accept him to start of with or at all as he's another dominant male and if theres already a leader in there it could cause friction, which is probably whats resulted in the fights so far. But it is worth having a go at introducing them as degu's do like company and you have nothing to lose

For a start you are doing the right thing at the moment by seperating the cage in two so they are next to each other and they can hear, see and smell each other. To add to that i'd also keep swapping the sides they are on so they pick each others smells up so they start to smell like one another, i'd swap them over once a week for a few weeks. I'd also make them share the same sandbath as well so they again pick some scent up of each other. Do you introduce them in the cage or in a neutral territory? The reason i ask is they might get on better if introduced in a neutral area as both will see the cage as their own territory so that could cause friction between them too so if you are using the cage i'd try using something or somewhere else where neithers scent should be present and if you do get them all together make sure the cage is clean so they have a fresh start together!

The good signs are the low whistling/chattering noise that you hear them make to one another like Rum and Raisin do, if they are doing that to Jerry as well thats a good sign as they are communicating with him and also if they accept him without any signs of aggression and let him groom them or vice versa as this is a bonding experience to them so an important step. The bad signs tend to be aggressive teeth chattering which is loud and rapid also tail banging and high pitched screeching and grunting tend to be signs of aggression and dominence, they are saying "this is my territory get out" or "keep away i'll bite if you come any closer". Remember that theres always going to be some territorial fights to start of with especially with a trio but they should only be minor fights to see whose going to be the boss and should sort themselves out within a few minutes but if they are more serious fights such as ones were fur and blood are flying and they continue to happen at every introduction then i'd probably keep them parted and living as they are. Degu fights can turn pretty nasty very quickly and sometimes over nothing and degu's have nasty bites unfortunately and can cause serious injuries to one another so if they continue to fight like this i'd keep them parted. If they can't live together in a group its not the end of the world as sometimes male degus do prefer to live alone as they like their own territory. If that happens then i'd just keep them as they are living next to each other so they can see and smell each other etc.... and give Jerry lots more cuddles and he should be perfectly fine and happy on his own!

Goodluck with the introductions and please keep us posted on how you are going on

Kirsty


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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-05-2005, 05:41 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah, i knew it would be difficult!

I've though about swapping the sides of the cage they are in, but R&R don't like being picked up (they had bad handling experiences for the first 1-2years of their life before we got them, and are still difficult to get - getting better, and happy once you've got them!!) and the other side of the cage has no access apart from at the top (wasn't a problem with Ben and Jerry - they come to you). I am concerned about being able to get Rum and Raisin out when it comes to cleaning, but i'll give it a go! I've swapped part of their bedding over so they get used to each others smells, and all of their toys. they are now sharing a sand bath too.
Generally they get introduced in the cage, as there are few places in our house that are neutral and degu proof. the only place we really have is the bathroom and when we tried that last time, it resulted in dismantling the whole bathroom to get under the bath because raisin squeezed through a tiny gap down the side of it!!!

They are always making chattering noises at each other and following each other around the cage (jerry is always following R&R seeing what they are doing), which always makes me think its a good sign, but then this is followed by nice play fighting and sniffing and a little bit of attempted grooming, then the louder chattering (usually started by Jerry), and tail flapping. there is some bottom nipping too and then it all goes wrong and they end up in a heap wrestling and covered in saw dust.

I think secretly Jerry really wants to go and play, but he wants to be boss and is going to be really stubborn about it! I'm hoping he'll realise eventually that if he wants to play, he has to play nice, or he goes back to being on his own!

thanks loads for the suggestions
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-05-2005, 04:29 PM
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Yes, degus can be very stubborn i know the feeling oh so well I know exactly what your going through now the heart palpatations when you introduce them, the fingers crossed so hard they'll get on they go numb, the bites when you have to split their fights up or maybe that was just me

When they fight do you have to part them or do they sort themselves out? As if the fighting stops of their own accord then thats generally a good sign as its just general whose going to be the boss fighting and in time with more introductions they should eventually hopefully get on. But if its the kind where you have to part them then its more serious as theres obviously something they don't like about each other maybe ones more dominant than the others so creates friction between all 3. All the signs sound good like them chattering to each other and them letting each other groom one another but i have to say on the play fighting just remember with degus theres a thin line between play fighting and real fighting as what can look minor can quickly become serious especially among unfamiliar degus. I think any fighting is being initiated by Jerry, as he sounds like he's very dominant from the information you have provided me with especially if he's the one starting the teeth chattering as thats a warning sound they use to warn others to keep away or they'll attack. I'd keep up what your doing and keep trying them together but maybe on more neutral ground to see if that has any effect as if they are in a neutral area theres always means for escape from each other plus no ones intruding on ones patch or so to speak

Please keep us posted

Kirsty


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Last edited by Amethystbelle; 04-05-2005 at 04:33 PM.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-05-2005, 04:49 PM
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Kirsty has said all the right things.. Good luck and keep us informed..

Steph ~ Owned by 4 bunnies and 5 degus..


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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-06-2005, 06:18 AM Thread Starter
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I'm definitely getting bitten when i try and break up fights. i can't feel half of my hand at the minute, cos jerry got annoyed when i tried to stop him fighting!!

It all starts off nicely, they go and say hello, leave each other alone, say hi, go away.... then it suddenly end up in a big pile of degu, suddenly!! The 'nice' fighting is the silent 'up on the hind legs, wrestling type', but then this leads on to the 'in a ball of wriggly fur' type fighting with lots of squeaking. its only ever rum or raisin hes with too, not generally both at the same time (thank god).

I'll try again tonight!!
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-06-2005, 08:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy H
I'm definitely getting bitten when i try and break up fights. i can't feel half of my hand at the minute, cos jerry got annoyed when i tried to stop him fighting!!

It all starts off nicely, they go and say hello, leave each other alone, say hi, go away.... then it suddenly end up in a big pile of degu, suddenly!! The 'nice' fighting is the silent 'up on the hind legs, wrestling type', but then this leads on to the 'in a ball of wriggly fur' type fighting with lots of squeaking. its only ever rum or raisin hes with too, not generally both at the same time (thank god).

I'll try again tonight!!
Oh yes i have been there and learnt never stick your hands in a degu fight you always get bit but i never learn and always do and i always end up worse off then the degu's But if you poke them, bang on the floor or shout at them they don't listen they continue so sticking your hand between them is the only way

Kirsty


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