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Degu Discussion Twitching whiskers, curious noses, and all things degu related.

 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-10-2012, 10:27 AM Thread Starter
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Taming

I've had my degus for about 6 months now, and I really want to start picking them up and taking them out to play and things.
How do I start taming them?
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-10-2012, 06:39 PM
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I usually start by letting them come out on their own in a small, degu-proofed area. The bathtub (for young degus who can't jump out), the hallway, a small bathroom, a walk-in closet, etc. If possible, bring the whole cage to these areas and leave the door open. If the cage is too large to move, scoop them up with a container to move them and/or lure them into the container/carrier with treats. Don't reach in and pick them up by hand yet, you have to work up to that and it often leads to bites otherwise.

When they're out, sit with them and occasionally offer treats. Don't reach for them or anything, let them come to you when they want to. They're curious animals so it doesn't take long.

As time goes on, they'll begin to trust you and you can begin gently petting them and doing more handling. You might want to try wearing a baggy hoodie or jacket...they tend to like crawling inside to snuggle .




~Stephanie

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-11-2012, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, thanks for the info.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-29-2012, 10:11 PM
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So my new degu is a rescue from a family member that had to move and couldn't take him with. He is young, my cousin only had him for a couple months, but the last 2-3 weeks he had hardly been handled. I read nearly everything online about taming them and how you have to take it so slow because of their trust issues. He won't take food from me yet, but it has only been a week. I can get my hand under him though, and even pet him but he is very shy. Also, he was living in a 10 gal aquarium before, and I moved him to my old chinnie's home which is huge, so I image he is still adjusting to that. My mom decided to do her own taming I guess, and I have told her many times to take it slow and how they can hold grudges if miss handled. But she went ahead and has been transporting him from different cage levels, which is fine, but today she decided she needed to take him out, which I didn't think he was ready for. On top of that she brought our dog in with her! Now I do bring our dog in occasionally so that the animals know each other and I can reinforce (under supervision) that the dog only comes in with a person and that Draco is off limits as a toy/food. So she takes him out and he seems okay but frightened and then he goes for her shoulder, which she let him do because our chinnie used to do. He then climbed backwards and looked like he was going to try for the cage. Of course I had to grab him to keep him off the ground and he bit both of us pretty well. I told her she needs to take it slower and not have the dog in the room during handling and she said I am not being aggressive enough and he is never going to tame this way. We've had him one week! I've read online that it can take months to properly tame a degu, and that some never really care to be handled. Am I wrong? Am I not being aggressive enough?
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-29-2012, 10:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Afriel444 View Post
So my new degu is a rescue from a family member that had to move and couldn't take him with. He is young, my cousin only had him for a couple months, but the last 2-3 weeks he had hardly been handled. I read nearly everything online about taming them and how you have to take it so slow because of their trust issues. He won't take food from me yet, but it has only been a week. I can get my hand under him though, and even pet him but he is very shy. Also, he was living in a 10 gal aquarium before, and I moved him to my old chinnie's home which is huge, so I image he is still adjusting to that. My mom decided to do her own taming I guess, and I have told her many times to take it slow and how they can hold grudges if miss handled. But she went ahead and has been transporting him from different cage levels, which is fine, but today she decided she needed to take him out, which I didn't think he was ready for. On top of that she brought our dog in with her! Now I do bring our dog in occasionally so that the animals know each other and I can reinforce (under supervision) that the dog only comes in with a person and that Draco is off limits as a toy/food. So she takes him out and he seems okay but frightened and then he goes for her shoulder, which she let him do because our chinnie used to do. He then climbed backwards and looked like he was going to try for the cage. Of course I had to grab him to keep him off the ground and he bit both of us pretty well. I told her she needs to take it slower and not have the dog in the room during handling and she said I am not being aggressive enough and he is never going to tame this way. We've had him one week! I've read online that it can take months to properly tame a degu, and that some never really care to be handled. Am I wrong? Am I not being aggressive enough?
No, you're correct and your mother is wrong. Taking him out and overwhelming him, like what happened, can seriously slow down or even halt the taming process. Degus have excellent memories. I would leave him alone for a few days (besides offering treats and gentle petting if he allows it) to let him cool off and then start trying again, slowly. It's best to let degus come out on their own (so you'd want to do this in a dog-free, degu-proofed area like a bathroom, walk-in closet, small bedroom, etc.) rather than force them out, as it helps build trust . It can take months to bond to a new degu and some are less social than others.

That being said, a bite won't mean he'll never trust you guys again or anything. I rushed a bit with my first pair of degus because I was used to hamsters, mice, etc. I knew how to read their body language and was used to just scooping them up. I tried that with a new degu and she bit me pretty hard . I slowed down and she ended up maturing into one of the friendliest degus I have ever had...riding around in my hoodie all day, learning tricks, and roaming my bedroom.

I would also consider getting a second degu (preferably a baby since that's the easiest intro). They really thrive in pairs or groups. Even better, if the second degu is used to people or is a baby (and therefore very curious, ha), it'll speed up the bonding process with your adult .




~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 10 (permalink) Old 01-30-2012, 10:01 AM
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Thank you. I'm hoping by next week to get him into a tube or other secondary transporter and try the (dry) bathtub for the first time. I think that will really work well for him. He still is letting me pet him a bit, so he probably wasn't as traumatized as me, lol. My mom stormed around and said she wouldn't touch him at all anymore, but hopefully she'll cool off and just trust me and it will all work out. Thanks again! I did all this research but she got me doubting myself, as mothers are wont to do sometimes!
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 04:49 AM
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Personally, I'm surprised that they would bite you. Getting another Degu is also always recommended by most Degu owners... of course most of them also recommend insane things and always insist that your cage is too small, or that their diet will kill them, etc.

I think you must take it very slow! Our degus were scared for many many weeks before they got used to us and they still get freaked out if we make weird noises or move too fast. Also, I think generally degus don't like being held too much because they're so active. Even when we pick ours up they only seem to tolerate it at best (unless there's food of course). I'd recommend getting some crushed oats that don't have any additives or sugar or anything. Our degus now try to get into our hands every time we let them out.

Hope this helps!
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 09:29 AM
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yes he is doing much better and the oats do help. But he is so skiddish and doesn't want to come out at all. He also 'bites' too hard sometimes when he's 'grooming' me. after he finishes his treats i pet him and allow him to smell all over my hand, but then the nibbles and bites me, and sometimes rough enough that I bleed. but it is not really an aggressive bite, I can tell the difference, but do any of you have ideas about discouraging such vigorous grooming? i generally wash my hands so, they shouldn't smell like food...
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 09:30 AM
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my mom has also made up with him, be he is still not as loving to her as he originally was, and i can tell that she really understands now what i was trying to tell her before.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-05-2012, 10:41 AM
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biting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Afriel444 View Post
yes he is doing much better and the oats do help. But he is so skiddish and doesn't want to come out at all. He also 'bites' too hard sometimes when he's 'grooming' me. after he finishes his treats i pet him and allow him to smell all over my hand, but then the nibbles and bites me, and sometimes rough enough that I bleed. but it is not really an aggressive bite, I can tell the difference, but do any of you have ideas about discouraging such vigorous grooming? i generally wash my hands so, they shouldn't smell like food...
This happened with us too. It's a little strange but if you make little squeeky noises and pull away before they get too rough they get the message. This is actually a pretty good sign, as it means that they consider you a degu.

From what I've read, the squeeking and pulling away slightly lets them know that they're doing it too hard.
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