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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-23-2009, 01:48 PM Thread Starter
 
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Exclamation new to site, need advice on 3 male degus fighting

Hi, I just joined this site and really need any sort of help or advice from a more experienced Degu owner.
I have 3 boys, they are brothers, and they were 12 weeks old when we got them from a pet store. We got them sexed to make sure, I wasn't planning on having any degu babies! They are now about 5 months old and they live in a big 3 tier wire cage that's about the same size as me, i'd post a picture but because i'm new it won't let me. (we have cardboard and hay on each level so not to hurt their feet, they also have a hammock and 2 wheels, and a nest box to hide in, they get sandbaths once a day too)
They get degu nuggets to eat, and every few days i'll chop up some cherry tomatoes and celery and put that in, they get dried corn on the cob as a treat. They have a couple of mineral stones, and i put in willow sticks for them to chew aswell.
Now that's about everything, am I doing anything wrong?
(I've looked after 8 degus before, and they had babies, and when me and my boyfriend decided to get our own we've tried to find out as much as we can to keep them all happy and healthy)

Now here is the problem. This morning they were fighting, or more specifically, two of them were bullying the other one. It looked like they were trying to mount him, but they were pushing him and chasing him and they were all squeaking like mad and running around like crazy. I've never seen or heard anything like it before and I am really worried about them. I opened the top of the cage and the one that was getting bullied literally leapt out onto my shoulder and stayed there and didn't want to go back in the cage. The other two quietened down and they seem fine together in the big cage. I didn't want to go to work and leave poor Cid in with them, so i got the old cage out and filled it with hay and sawdust and food and everything and left him in there while i went to work (have i made a huge mistake in seperating them?). Now I'm back and he seems ok. My boyfriend suggested that maybe they got sexed wrong (the pet store were struggling to find someone to take on all three of them, and were very glad when we came along) so I had a good look at Cid, and he doesn't seem to have any wounds by the way, but I noticed what looked like maybe blood on his bum? I checked the other two aswell, and they all look the same down there, and looking at a picture for reference, I'm sure they are all boys.
I'm worried about introducing Cid back into the tank, but I know we can't keep him by himself for long.

Any ideas on why they were fighting so rough? Is there anything I'm doing wrong that could be affecting their health for the worse, or even their behaviour?
Any help, suggestions, advice, just any input would be greatly appreciated.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-23-2009, 02:26 PM
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Welcome to Paw-Talk!

It sounds like a case of them simply maturing and being hormonal. Group dynamics with male degus can be complicated, though, and occasionally a certain group or pair just won't work out.

I would give the cage a good clean and put them back together to see what happens. Some fighting amongst degus is normal but drawing blood isn't. You mentioned seeing a little blood but no injuries--I would double-check just to make sure. If blood is drawn again you might have to consider separating them and getting Cid a different degu to live with. At the same time, they might just calm down as they get older (but if Cid gets injured I would separate any way). If one degu in particular seems to be starting the fights you could also look into neutering by a small animal vet. It doesn't always help but I know a few members on here have seen significant changes after having the procedure done.

By the way, the mounting is a show of dominance and is normal in a group of males.




~Stephanie

"We weep for a bird's cry, but not for a fish's blood. Blessed are those with a voice."


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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-23-2009, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thankyou for responding!
I actually just cleaned out the cage yesterday, but it's the same stuff i've been using since i got them.
I just tried putting Marley in beside Cid in the smaller cage, and they were fine together. Cid went straight up to him and they sat together and started grooming each other. Then i took Vasquez out the big cage, he is very skittish. Since we first got them, Cid was the adventurous and friendly one, he loves sitting on your shoulder and hiding in your hair. Marley and Vasquez took a little longer to get used to my boyfriend and I, but Marley is just as friendly as Cid is now, and Vasquez will jump on your hand and come out, but after a little while he gets really fast and doesn't seem to want to be handled.
Anyway, when I put Vasquez in beside the other two, they immediately started to fight again, it was so fast I couldn't tell which one went for Cid, but they started the squeaking and running again, and Cid ran to the door and as soon as I opened it he was climbing up my arm. I put him back into the big cage, and he seems glad to be back in the spacious cage. I'm thinking about just putting Marley in beside him since they seemed fine together for the 15 minutes or so, and leave Vasquez in the smaller one but I have it right against the big one so they can still see, hear and smell one another.

Vasquez has always seemed greedy. For example if he's at one of the food bowls, and another one approaches, he'll move around the bowl and turn his back to the other so they can't get to it. This isn't all the time though, he just seems to have his grumpy days.
I'll give it a few days, and maybe alternate Marley between the two of them since he seems to be neutral.
The degus do get plenty of attention from us, so I don't think they'll get too lonely. After a few days i'll try introducing them again and if it doesn't work, then i'll see about getting another friend for Cid as neutering any of them is a last resort for me.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-24-2009, 01:51 PM Thread Starter
 
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Today I sectioned off the bottom level of the cage, and while i was doing that, i put Cid (the victim) in the ball i have for them, inside the cage (balanced in a way so that he couldn't roll it or be pushed around) and they all seemed fine. The other two were running up and sniffing and Vasquez didn't seem aggressive at all. While i was working away on the bottom, Cid managed to chew through the ball! And all of a sudden there was chaos in the cage, and by the time i got Cid out, he had a nasty looking cut on his nose.
Will the cut heal ok by itself? It's not a big cut, but it does look a bit deep, and i can see the blood. Should i take him to the vet to get him checked?

Now i have vasquez on his own in the bottom level of the cage, and there's no way he's getting to the top, i've made it as chew proof as possible. Since Vasquez and Marley have been left on their own together for a good few hours and have been absolutely fine together, if i was to keep them in a cage to themselves, and get another male degu to introduce to Cid, how should i go about it?
Does age matter? And how long would it take before I could put the newbie in beside Cid?

I'm going to leave it a little while longer to see if Vasquez will come out of this on his own, as Cid is not hostile toward him, you can tell he's just scared of him. I really don't want to get Vasquez neutered as I know the risk can be fatal, and it doesn't always work and I wouldn't want to put him through that for no reason. He is not aggressive toward me or my boyfriend, he's perfectly normal, and I feel really bad sectioning him off on his own. Even if he is in the same cage, he's still seperated and can't get cuddles from his brother!
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-24-2009, 02:13 PM
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Yeah, you can't really put degus in exercise balls like you would a hamster or mouse. They're total escape artists (which is the same reason people recommend metal cages instead of plastic ones).

I would just clean the wound and keep an eye on it for now. If it doesn't heal or gets infected definitely get him to a vet. But a small cut shouldn't need much extra care.

If you get a friend for Cid, try to find a young degu. The best would be a baby. Young degus aren't as threatening to adults so they're easier to introduce. At first just keep them side by side and let them sniff each other. You can also switch them between cages and mix up bedding to get them used to each other's scents. Another trick is letting them share a dust bath. As for the first actual introduction, do it in neutral territory (a bath tub or pen works well). You can also add vanilla extract (or something else with a strong smell) to a dust bath and let them both roll around in it. It'll make them have the same smell . Start with short sessions (like 10 minutes) and then try longer. Some degus hit it off right away and can be put together within days. Others take a little longer. I, personally, have never had issues introducing degus BUT I have females so it's a little different.

Good luck and I'm sorry for this to happen with your first degus! Don't feel bad, they're complex creatures.




~Stephanie

"We weep for a bird's cry, but not for a fish's blood. Blessed are those with a voice."


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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-06-2009, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
 
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Just thought i'd update on the situation, incase anybody out there has the same problem and is looking for similar situations and outcomes to read about. Yesterday i took a chance, and added Vasquez back in beside the other two. And success! There has been no fighting at all, and I've been off work the last two days and just spent most of the time keeping an eye on then. Right now the three of them are snuggled together on the hammock, having a little snooze. I don't know whether the fighting is going to be like a frequent thing, maybe every month or so they'll fall out?? I've read other stories about male degus having a sort of 'time of the month'. If he shows any signs of being aggressive, I'll be ready to seperate him again. For now though, I'm so relieved that they all seem to be getting on well
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-06-2009, 01:25 PM
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I'm glad to hear that!




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