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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is some background - I have 2 male degus (Biggie and Smalls). They are brothers that I adopted nearly a year ago. They tend to get along very well EXCEPT when I clean their cage. After cleaning, they try to re-state hierarchy and the past few months they have been getting very rough (neither wants to back down). Well, the submissive male went for it and bit Biggie's leg, leaving him limping with a very swollen back leg. Biggie is now living in a separate aquarium for 10 days, is on painkillers and antibiotics to avoid infection and if looking very lonely.

Smalls (the attacker) does not seem very phased about his brother being gone.

The vet suggested I give Biggie some rest time for 10 days. Here is my concern: reintegration. Should I put them in a neutral zone, because Smalls has been the only one living in their normal habitat for over a week? Since they have lived together so long, should I still go through the standard (and lengthy) reintegration process?

It would be great to get suggestions regarding reintegration, or even how to make a cage cleaning less of a social degu disaster...
 

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Yeah, that can be a problem with degus, mostly males (especially pairs, for some reason, as opposed to groups).

I would re-introduce them slowly just to be safe. So have the cages next to each other, mix up bedding, have them share a dust bath, etc. Then introduce them in a neutral area when Biggie is healed. They should be easier to introduce because they already "know" each other but they might also remember the fight.

As for the cleaning problem, there's a simple solution. Don't clean out the whole cage at once, do it in parts. That way there's some used bedding left in the cage with their scents. Degus are really scent-based animals and decide whether or not a degu is welcome based on if they smell like the group or not. While you're cleaning the cage, give them a dust bath (even consider trying a scented one so they smell exactly the same) and place it in the cage with them when you put them back.

I'm sorry to hear about your degu problems but I'm glad you were able to get veterinary care :). Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sasami, thanks for the advice. I feel like I'm a barrel full of questions - I created this account when I fist got them and you were so quick to answer (and looking about the site, you're clearly a great help to many people!).

Regarding the cleaning comment, I was thinking the same thing! It'll be a little more work overall but hopefully worth it.

Regarding the reintegration, I have been swapping some shavings every day to make sure that there is at least a faint scent transfer going on. Biggie is in an aquarium with a mesh top, while Smalls is in their original house (wooden multi-level with wired front and top) I'm leaving the aquarium in front of the main house in hopes that they see each other and again, there is some scent transfer but that is the best I can do at this point.

I'm lucky to have a good exotics vet just a short drive away - Biggie even got a little degu x-ray that I got to see... The vet believes there are no breaks, just a bite, probably a sprain and there was MAJOR swelling... but after 4 days he still puts very little weight on his injured leg, leaving me to believe there may be a hairline fracture there that we just couldn't see on the xray... I'm concerned that 10 days in seclusion might not be enough. So far he hasn't made much headway...
 

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Did you get anything for inflammation? If its still swollen it could still be painful to put wait on it.

(i have no experience with degus just an idea) hopefully in a few days it will look a lot better. You can keep putting bedding from his tank back into the original cage for the rest of the days
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Did you get anything for inflammation? If its still swollen it could still be painful to put wait on it.

(i have no experience with degus just an idea) hopefully in a few days it will look a lot better. You can keep putting bedding from his tank back into the original cage for the rest of the days
The painkiller is also an anti-inflammatory, so yes :)
 
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