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post #1 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-25-2005, 08:16 PM Thread Starter
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Wink questions

Hey everyone,
I will be moving to my own house here in a few months and I'm trying to decide if degus are right for me. I have done a lot of research so far and they seem like really cool little animals. But I'm worried because they are so prone to diseases. If I make sure they have a good diet and give them bottled water, do I have a pretty good chance of having healthy, long lived animals, or do most of them end up with diabetes and/or mouth diseases?
What kind of a cage would you recommend? Is it better to have an aquarium or deep base at the bottom to keep everything in, or are they not too messy?
Also, does anyone know where I can find a good breeder listing?
Thanks for your help!
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post #2 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-25-2005, 11:28 PM
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With a good diet and fresh water they should be fine. Since they tend to get mouth diseases you should be sure to wash the waterbottle often. With the right diet, they shouldn't get diabetes. Although some people feed a little fruit, I don't feed anything with sugar to be on the safe side. If you take care of them properly, they should do fine. My degus have never gotten sick. I don't really recommend an aquarium because of poor ventilation...also, they love to climb and get excercise from climbing the bars on wire cages. I'd get a multi-level wire cage. They can be a little messy (mine like to dig and sometimes kick out a little bedding) so it should have a fairly deep base. I'm not sure about breeders in your area, but I'll look .




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post #3 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-26-2005, 03:37 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks!
Is it good to feed them chinchilla and guinea pig pellets, or is there something better for them to eat?
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post #4 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-26-2005, 09:35 PM
 
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You can feed them gp and/or chinchilla pellets, as long as there are no sugars (cane sugar, molasses, etc) in it. I've searched the bags of every single gp and chin food at Petco, Petsmart, Petland and a local pet shop. The only one I have found that doesn't have any is Gertie Guinea Pig (there is a slight ammount of sugars, but someone contacted the company that makes it and discovered that the little yellow banana circles are the sugar containing ingredient, so if you pick those out of the bag, the rest of the food is fine. One of my local pet shops also carries Brisky degu pellets, which are available online at www.brisky.com I feed my guys a mixture of the Brisky and the Gertie Guinea Pig, because the Gertie is cheaper (and available at Petco and Petsmart right down the street) and the shop that sells the brisky is a little ways away.

The only other recommendation I have is to make sure the cage you buy does NOT have a plastic bottom. We had to house our two guys in our plastic bottomed rat cage for a weekend (the rat was moved to a smaller cage for those few days) while we were waiting for their cage to be ordered. They behaved for the first two days. On Monday, I called the guy at around 11 am to ask if the cage was ready. He said to give him two hours to unload the truck. In that two hours, the degus chewed all the way around the plastic bottom of the cage (near the top, just below where it meets the metal bars). Fortunately, Milo is a total homebody and has not done any more chewing where they started. No doubt in my mind that the degus would've been out of the cage by the end of the night.

I haven't had my guys long, so I can't really comment on diseases and stuff like that. I've heard that they need vitamin C like guinea pigs do, so I buy guinea pig vitamins to put in their water. Not sure if it's necessary or not, but I figure better safe than sorry.
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post #5 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-26-2005, 09:42 PM
 
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Just wanted to add one more thing about the Brisky food (since I know it looks expensive). When we first brought them home, we fed Brisky exclusively (we hadn't found the Gertie yet). The one 44 oz plastic jar that brisky's site is selling for $9.81 lasted us for about a month (we have two degus). Most of their diet is timothy hay (which isn't very expensive) and vegetables (usually just romaine, red leaf or green leaf lettuce, but they sometimes get some carrot, tomato, or broccoli added to it.) We spend about $2/week on the lettuce.
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post #6 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-26-2005, 10:37 PM
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I feed Brisky's diet as well . I used to mix Hagen guinea pig pellets (only brand I found without sugar) and Charlie's Chinchilla Mix (but I picked out the raisins and only used the corn as a treat) before degu food was available.




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post #7 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-27-2005, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the food info. If you guys have any other advice or info, let me know! I'm still trying to make up my mind.
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post #8 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-28-2005, 04:53 PM
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Hello, degus make fantastic pets and are very friendly, adventurous and fun to have around. So if you chose to get some they certainly will enrich you life

Unfortunately with degus as with any pet you can't guarentee that its never going to get ill in its life time. Degu's are prone to diabetes, cataracts and occasionally mouth disease but its mainly down to bad breeding and genetics but hopefully with a good diet and lifestyle then you are giving them the best chance of longterm happiness. I've had 6 degus so far and non have ever ailed anything so far (*fingers crossed*).

I feed mine a mixture of a ready made degu food, plus guinea pig biscuits and a small handful of Gerty guinea pig. I supplement it with small pieces of veggies such as cabbage, broccoli, carrot, spring onion, sweet potato etc.... and as treats they also get the odd nut, sunflower seed, oven toasted wholemeal bread, shreaded wheat, rice puffs, bran flake, cornflakes (i crush these so they forage for them), bread stick and dried carrot and grass. Recent reasearch has shown that chinchilla pellets aren't all that good for degus so i don't feed mine them at all now. I give mine fresh water everyday, i don't buy bottled water i use it from the tap as i used to buy bottled then did a lot of research and found out my waters ok to use Its also important to make sure the water bottled is clean and there is no algae in it or anything as thats bad for degus!

As for the cage, i have two metal bottomed 3 storey cages as i have two sets of boys at the moment, they do chew through plastic if they are that way inclined very quickly so metal based cages are always best and the more height the better as degu's do like space and they say you should have at least one shelf per degu. An aquarium isn't an ideal environment for a degu not just for ventilation reasons but also as they do like to climb as in the wild they are rock hoppers and one level is pretty boring to a degu as they like to run around but you could incorperate the aquarium into a cage design as i have seen it done and incorperate a digging pit for them as they do love to dig. I have seen people with cages fitted onto the top of an aquarium tank and they do work very well plus they keep some of the mess in as they are such messy little critters my floors covered with sand and shavings

But degu's do make fantastic pets and if you decide to get some i'm sure you won't regret it as they are so much fun and bring so much enjoyment to your life. Goodluck if you decide to get some of the little cuties and please keep us informed

Kirsty


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post #9 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-28-2005, 06:40 PM
 
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I think degus make great pets.. Everyone above has said the right things you need to know.. I dont give mine chinchilla pellets, just a mix of guinea pig food and pellets.. Every few days I give them fresh veggies inc carrots, cucumber, lettuce, broccolli, curly kale, cauliflower and brussell sprouts.. Avoid alfafa and just use Timothy hay or something similar.. For treats I give mine shredded wheat, brown bread or ryvita.. I also only give mine Evian water, I dont think my water here is too good for them, unlike Kirstys..
I have 5, 4 female and one male, he has been neutered to avoid any inbreeding..
I also recently got them a new cage, it had to be a big one for obvious reasons.. I also have a separate one which they go in daily for a sandbath, while I tidy the main one and put in new food and water etc.. And dont forget to give them toys and hammocks in the cage..
Just make sure you give them the right food inc veggies, make sure they get regular sandbaths and that you handle them regularly, so that they become more tame and loveable..
Good luck! Here are 2 pics of my new cage..




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post #10 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-28-2005, 11:56 PM
 
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A large wheel is a definite must for degus. The like to stretch out to run, so make sure you get one that's large enough. They take dust baths like chinchillas do. We have a chinchilla bath house now, simply because it gives them a place to hide while they are out of the cage, but when we first got them, we just put the sand in a plastic food storage container. They use the same dust that chinchillas do.

If I think of anything else to add, I'll let you know.
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post #11 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-29-2005, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. I guess my problem is I'm scared I might do something wrong and make them sick! Do you guys think they are fairly easy to take care of? And can you find dealers where you can get Brisky pellets instead of having to get them online?
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post #12 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-30-2005, 12:29 PM
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I think they are very easy to take of as long as you stick to the diet and give them lots of love and affection you won't have any problems fingers crossed. I can't help you on the Brisky's diet problem though as you can't get it over here in the UK so i feed mine Vitakraft degu food which is good quality not sure if you can get it over there though but there is a thread on it with a number included so might be worthwhile finding out

Kirsty


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post #13 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-30-2005, 04:43 PM
 
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Just curious, AmBelle - what research is it that says chin pellets are not good for them? I'm researching degu diet right now and would love another source.

JennLin, there is a pet store in my area that sells Brisky. It's a store that used to sell degus (though thank heaven they don't anymore, but that's another story). They sell it in the bulk bins, but containers are available.

Right now I'm feeding my degus Exotic Nutrition degu pellets. I thought these were preferable to Brisky because they don't contain tallow. The degus enjoy it and if you have several and buy a big bag, it's pretty economical. $2.40/lb including shipping for the 18 lb bag. It's a mylar bag with a ziplock, so it should keep pretty well in there or you can keep it in the freezer like I do.

Degus are really wonderful to have around! I encourage you to meet some and see if you think they'd be right for you. In my experience they're not as easy to tame as rats and hamsters, but they are very smart and creative - fun to watch! Mine will allow themselves to be held, but only for a minute - then they're off exploring!
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post #14 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-30-2005, 05:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tardigrade
Just curious, AmBelle - what research is it that says chin pellets are not good for them? I'm researching degu diet right now and would love another source.
I did a lot of research and came across a few sites that said they are ok in small quantities but not in large amounts as they are quite fattening for degu's and mine didn't like them anyway (as you get pellets in the degu mix i buy and they prefer those ) so i now don't feed them the chinchilla pellets to be on the safe side! I don't have the sites to hand but i'll have a look through my old notes and if i can find them for you i'll pm them to you

Kirsty


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post #15 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-30-2005, 05:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JennLin22
Thanks guys. I guess my problem is I'm scared I might do something wrong and make them sick! Do you guys think they are fairly easy to take care of? And can you find dealers where you can get Brisky pellets instead of having to get them online?
I think they're easy to take care of as long as you do research. You could call your petstores to see if they have Brisky's diet...one of our petstores started carrying it in Feb.




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