Appropriate company for degus
Ensure your degus have appropriate company.
Company. Never house degus individually unless advised to do so by a vet or clinical animal behaviourist. They’re social animals and live in small groups in the wild; they can get depressed if housed alone. Degus will groom each other and enjoy sleeping side by side. Even with lots of human contact, degus need to live with other degus.
- Housing degus in same sex pairs or groups can be a good option to avoid unwanted breeding. Similarly a group consisting of a neutered male and several females can also be compatible. However, even neutered males may fight if females are present and therefore, there should never be more than one male in a mixed sex group.
- Enough resources available for all degus living together at all times i.e. nesting boxes large enough for all degus to rest together if they want to and enough hiding places that they can all shelter individually.
- Protecting from sounds, sights, smells of animals they may be afraid of. E.g. cats, dogs, ferrets, birds of prey. Degus are prey species, these animals can stress them.
- Regular calm and gentle contact with you. Reward with treats to help them enjoy your company. Degus can find exposure to humans stressful until a positive relationship has been formed.
- Handling carefully and considerately. Never pick degus up using their tails - this is stressful and can injure them. Degus will be stressed by sudden exposure to unfamiliar people/inappropriate handling. They should be allowed to climb on the palm of the hand and then gently picked up into your cupped hands. Hands swooping down on them from above will cause stress, as it’s natural for degus to run away from predators approaching from above in the wild.
- Constant supervision when they’re with another animal or person that may deliberately or accidentally harm or frighten them.