Hi everyone, this is my first post on here and it's a doozy!
Two weeks ago, I got two degus. They were from a family who were concerned about their kids taking improper care of them (why they let the kids have sole care of them is another story). When I got them, they were in a TINY cage (like, too small for one hamster) with a completely inadequate wheel. The food that the owners gave me was in a ziploc bag so I have no idea what it is (but the pellets are very small, so I assume it's hamster food). They had not had access to any hay whatsoever. The owners also said that they fight a lot. The day after I got them, I went and got them a much bigger, multi-level cage (along with a huuuge wheel). I have not noticed any fighting whatsoever (except a little squabbling over treats). They seem to absolutely love their new cage. I also got them some proper food and timothy hay (it was the cutest thing to see when they got hay for the first time!). They're extremely active and love to cuddle together. They're little piggies too, eating lots of food (they seemed kind of malnourished when we got them, a bit bony...that's fixed now). We THINK they're both males but I'm having a lot of trouble sexing them. Whatever the case, they have the same genitalia, so I'm confident they're the same sex. They won't let me catch them for a good look though (they let me pet them a bit and they'll crawl onto my hand but picking them up is out of the question). Now, some questions:
1. How do you know if degu teeth are overgrown? They both make little grinding noises after they've had a drink, but I read on here that it's normal. Their teeth are orange but I really have no idea how to tell if they're overgrown or not. They have no trouble eating or anything and I've given them lots of things to chew on (even though they prefer chewing on the wires of the cage, haha). I just don't know if I should be worried or not.
2. How much do degus usually drink? Their water bottle is only a tiny 60mL one. Each 24 hour period, they drink about 50mL between them. Is that normal? They don't seem to go to the bottle frequently but when they do go, they drink for quite awhile.
3. Is timothy hay acceptable as the primary bedding in a cage? The degus came with a lot of pine bedding but reading stuff on here made me a little nervous about using it. On the bag of timothy hay, it says "bedding," so I assume it would be okay to use, but I just want to be sure.
4. How often should I give treats? I know it's "occasionally," but does that mean once a day, once a week, once a month? They seem to really love shredded wheat
I just don't want to make them unhealthy.
5. Do they only lay on their bellies when they're too hot? I've noticed that they often stretch out and then lay on their bellies to doze (they only do this on their soft cloth bed). They only do this a couple times a day and I don't think my house is too hot (although Canada gets pretty chilly so we keep the heat on).
6. This morning I got a lovely awakening by my degu squeaking like mad for about 30 minutes. I've only ever heard him make this noise when he was asleep (when it looks like he's dreaming). It's a sharp squeak, not a warbling noise. I even gave him a treat and he still kept squeaking (haha, it got a little muffled when he ate the treat though). Should I be worried about this behavior? The other degu didn't seem alarmed by it.
I think that's it for now. Sorry for all the questions but I figured I should make one post as opposed to six! I've never had any experience with degus before and I'd really like to give them a better life than they had before. I'm known to my friends as a "paranoid" pet owner because I need to get answers about every little thing. Thanks in advance for all your help!