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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The youngest couple of my 4 female degus started to fight this spring. The best solution was to separate the one that is most used to handling. She, Yentl, has a different life now: often outside the cage in a hamsterbal chasing our cat.
But in the other cage odd things are going on. The youngest, Mazzeltov, is boss now over Hazel and Pumpkin. Those 2 old dames (almost 4 years old) are now having bald eyelids. Mazzeltov doesn't ...
I know that in lab colonies of mice there are colonies of mice where everyone, but ONE, has no whiskers. Because the one with whiskers bites whiskers off from other mice.

Is Mazzeltov pulling hair from the other's eyelids? She bit above the eyes of the others in the period of fighting I mentioned earlier... I had 3 degus then with a bloody cut above the eyes. And Hazel has one eye she can't open well. But theres no production of whatsoever, the eye seems healthy apart from being alomost closed.

Does this ring a bell among degu or rodent owners?

Like to hear from you,
Hannah.
 

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Hmm, no, I haven't heard of that. Have you tried contacting a degu-experienced veterinarian?

But if they're fighting, I would look into possible causes. How large is the enclosure?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
THe cage was large enough for 4 degus for 8 months. At spring (mating season) the fighting started

The fighting stops when I separate Mazzel and Yentl. From their behaviour I see that it has to do with dominance. A first encounter is always mounting. THe degu that accepts it, will not be fought. Hazel always accepts it. After a few struggles Pumpkin gives in to Mazzeltov. She resists Yentl, who always was Hazel favorite. So Mazzel, Hazel and Pumpkin now form a stable threesome.

The young ones both managed to dominate the elder ones, but they are of equal strength, so these two will be fighting until one wins, which can take a high price. So I prefer separating one. Maybe , when I have a job and $$$$, I'll buy a new one to join Yentl.
I sometimes place Hazel with Yentl to give her some social interaction. The first action you see is that Yentl mounts Hazel. But Hazel, lowest in ramk accepts that.
However, Hazel misses Pumpkin, so after a day, I place Hazel back in the other cage.

As for introducing new degus, I've never had any trouble: I just drop the new ones into the cage and they get groomed by the older degus. Never seen any fighting there. Maybe because I always add youngsters to 3-year olds. But this time, when the young ones became adults, they had to change the pecking order.

And I do have a good communicationline with the vet, who also has connections with homeopathic colleagues. But none of them know much about degu behaviour. I am their equal in that.

Degus are not popular in Holland. Even at the veterinary faculty of the university there is little knowledge. I know, because I studied there and kept contact with the rodent specialist for several years. I stoppped because I seemed to know more then she did. F.i. I had to convince her that my first degu (in 1992) had diabetes. Later it became known that degus are very sensitive to this.

Hey, I just get a great idea, thanks to our communication: The Amsterdam ZOO, Artis, has a large degu colony and lots of other south american rodents. I can ask the curator about these behavioral matters!!
When you visit Holland, do visit this Zoo!

Regards and thanks,
Hannah.
 
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