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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-10-2005, 05:34 AM Thread Starter
 
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Urgent Taming Set Back.. Help !

Hi All,

I'm new to this group..

I have a problem with taming the Degus.. I have ni idea what to do about it..

I rescued to Degus from the RSPCA a little while back.. they were handled by the RSPCA and so were semi tame when i had them.. one week after I got them they were cominhg on great.. they would take food out of my hand, crawl up my arm.. come to me etc.. I was really pleased at how well the taming was going with them..

Four days ago I went back to the RSPCA to adopt the last tweo remaining Degus who had been left on their own when I took the first two... I got them took them home, housed them in seperate cages... I gave the same sandbath to both sets, I cleared out both cages with cage disinfectant and then I wiped all the Degus with Degus scented mite wipes... this pretty much got rid of any familar scent... then I put them together...

they fought for a few minutes and then all was fine... they now sleep cuddled up together and get on great..

one degus (stumpy) from the last two I adopted has no tail as he was abused by the previous owner.. he is very nervous of me and is very unfriendly at the moment..

The problem I have is that now, when I talk to them all or go anywhere near the cage, stumpy sends a warning call to the others and they all run as fast as they can to the nest... I cant get to them, I cant pick them up to clean the cage, they wont come to me... it seems like all the taming I did with them has gone out of the window.

Even when Stumpy doesnt send the warning call he still dives into the nest as fast as he can the minute he sees me or anyone.. this frightens the others and again they all take cover..


I'm finding this very upseting because I got so far with the first two.. they were all coming along so well.. it seems so disheartening, I've felt like giving up on them the last few days and leave them alone permanently.. I know he hasnt had that much time to get used to me.. but how can he ever get used to me if he wont even look at me let alone come out of his nest...

To make matters worse... yesterday I had to clean the cage.. I couldnt hold off any longer, I would have just been irresponsible to do that as the cage was really starting to get in a bit of a mess..
so i had no choice but to do it... stumpy dived in the nest - the others followed.. because they did originally trust me a little they were easier to find and put in the bath so i could clean the cage.. however it caused great distress because everytime I moved the nest or box/toys to get to one and pick his up stumpy would dash around the cage terrified and within seconds I had four terrified Degus.. for no reason.. I have cleaned the cage before and had no problems with the first tweo then.. they were happy with me doing it.. but now it seems to cause panic in the cage because of stumpy..

In the end it was a case of five whole minutes trying to catch him.. it turned into a real ordeal.. and when i did catch him he bit me.. not very hard but enough to draw blood..

After cleaning the cage, he is now even worse... he hates me I'm sure.. I gave them all half a peanut each as a treat after I had cleaned the cage... all were very nervous (they never used to be)
one took the peanut, the other two did so after loads of encouragement and very reluctantly.. and stumpy wouldnt even look at what i had.. eventually i had to put the peanut on the cage floor and he took it and dived straight back into the nest..

I cant understand why he is nervous and frightened, but he was handled every day by the RSPCA so he is suppost to be tame.. I can understand a normal amount of nervousness etc but this is extreme .. wouldnt mind if he didnt terrify the other three in the process.. after he sent up the warning call to the group they just dont trust me anymore.. and the more i sit at the cage talking to them, or try to give them a treat etc.. the more nervous they seem..

Does anyone have a suggestion ? I dont have another cage to seperate them again.. besides it doesnt seem fair to seperate them as - as a group they get on well and are now very loving with each other.. but I dont want to end up with four Degus who bite ands wont come near me..

I have bred hampsters for years so I'm used to taming small animals in a general sense.. but not degus... all my hampsters were very tame ... but stumpy is too quick to catch, and he is frightening the rest of the degus which of course you dont get with hampsters.. so i have no idea what to do now,. If i leave them alone then they will never trust me, if i so much as even talk to them they dive in the nest..

Has anyone got any suggestions ?

thanks guys

Jo
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-10-2005, 11:56 AM
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Hiya I've been there with a biting degu and i know its disheartening especially when the others are becoming so tame but don't worry too much it won't encourage the others to bite not if you are building up the trust with them. I don't think Stumpy is nasty at heart i think he just bit you because hes frightened because of what he has been through and he lacks trust in humans so you can't really blame him in a way. I know the RSPCA said they handled them daily but in reality although they do give them a little time each day they don't have the time to handle them like you will so Stumpys probably always been wary but it wasn't picked up on. Don't forget its all new surroundings aswell so Stumpy will be wary and i think its more of a case of his bolting to the nest thats upsetting the others as the slightest thing can set them off in a panic so they will join him. I think you should try and work on Stumpy try to gain his trust first before the others as he's the one you need to bond with more at the moment to stop his behaviour from ruining your chances with the others. Firstly i really wouldn't seperate them as they are a group now and it would be cruel too also Stumpy might feel safer as theres safety in numbers

I'd try spending an hour a day (or as long as you can) sitting with them, talking to them and giving them treats and letting them sniff you as if you sit with them they will eventually come out and forget your there. If you can open the cage so they have free access in and out in a safe quiet room, sit on the floor with them and let them crawl all over you and explore to see your not going to harm them and with the cage being open they can go in of their own accord so you won't need to stress them out by catching them. Hopefully by doing this Stumpy and the others will see your not going to hurt them and they will get used to your voice and your scent. Also keep giving them treats and letting them take them out of the palm of your hand as all this encourages them to trust you also if they will let you touch them i find a little tickle behind the ear tames even the maddest degu and they are soon putty in your hands It may take time but in time Stumpy should see you pose no threat and the bolting to the nest should stop

Goodluck with them and keep us posted

Kirsty


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Last edited by Amethystbelle; 03-10-2005 at 12:03 PM.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-10-2005, 03:23 PM Thread Starter
 
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hi
thanks for the reply..

seen i posted earlier today it does seem to have clamed down a little bit, not much but a little which is a good thing..

they are all still more nervous than usual but they have started coming for treats again, even stumpy has starting taking food from me now without running away afterwards, aslong as its given to him through the bars he seems to feel safe.

I spent a few hours this afternoon just giving them treats.. well i say treats but it was actually gp mix food minus the raisins and corn.. they usually have just the pellets so it was a change for them and they loved it.. ideal for temping them over to me as it happens and it seemed to work out quite well..

so yes i think he is just nervous and he should *hopefully* settle down..

I want to let them out of the cage and i thought it may help but I have a 5 foot cage which is on top of a cupboard.. i put it up there because i was worried that the children would leave plastic bags etc outside the cage without thinking and the degus may be able to nibble on something harmful... however its not so good when it comes to them coming out of the cage because i cant leave the door open of them that way.. i have to catch them myself.. so for now i have avoided letting them out at all.. I thought that unless i can find a better location for the cage at floor level then its best not to put them through the ordeal of having to catch them when they arent quite used to me yet..

anyway, thanks for replying to my post, it has put my mind at rest a little and made me realise that it is most likely only a temporary problem and given a lot of patience and kindness - stumpy will eventually come around.

thanks
Jo
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-10-2005, 04:32 PM
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I think Stumpy will definately come round given time he just needs some love and for him to know someone cares about him and the more time you spend with him the tamer he will become. Degu's by nature can be skittish in new surroundings and with new people, i used to have two that hid everytime we had visitors only venturing out there igloo once they had gone. Once they all get used to your home and all the noises they will settle in within no time and be a lot less flighty. Keep on doing what you are doing as it sounds like your doing great already and you will be rewarded in no time

Kirsty


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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-10-2005, 05:34 PM
 
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Red face

How are you getting on?
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-11-2005, 08:31 AM Thread Starter
 
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much better today

stumpy is much better today... now he seems to be relaxing a bit more and has spent all morning running around the cage and racing with the others... he doesnt run when i approach the cage now as long as i do it slowly..
he has also stopped sending out the warning whistle so the others are more relaxed today aswell..

stumpys still very nervous and still doesnt like me much yet, but he is starting to get used to me slowely and he does try to join in when i give out treats etc..
so I'm much happier about him now.. it looks like he will definatly adjust eventually..

he still hates everyone else who comes near the cage though.. my husband, my daughter, he dives under the nest or growls a them.. so he still has a long way to go when it comes to other people..

I'm going to the pet shop later to buy them more toys.. im going to buy a suspended ferret tube, chinchilla hammock, another nest, and more things that they can hide in or have some peace and quite to themselves now that the four degus share a cage.. it may help them all relax a little more if they have more places where they can go to feel safe and be left alone..

ive also covered the top of the cage with loads of cardboard and they seem a lot happier about that.. I read that they can feel vunerable with a wire cage if the top is not covered due to nateral predators in the wild .. and it does seem to have helped.. they spend much more time on the top ledges now.

thanks all
Jo
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-11-2005, 10:50 AM
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Glad to hear they are settling in now, i think Stumpy just needs time thats all

Kirsty


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