When you visit a breeder or pet store, one thing you will notice is that degus are kept in twos. Even so, you might be scared of getting more than one degu owing to the care needs that come with this choice.
Some “group” animals that should ideally be kept with others of the same species can also thrive when kept alone. In the wild, degus are social animals that thrive in large groups.
In captivity, it is recommended that you have at least a pair of degus. This way, you mirror the natural habitat of a degu and give it a source of companionship so that you do not have to spend so much time with it.
Degus can also live alone (which I don’t recommend), but in this case, you will need to give your pet a lot of attention to keep it happy. This might be quite exhausting.
Getting multiple degus might seem like too much of a challenge. Below are some facts to give you answers to most of the questions you might have when keeping more than one degu.
How Many Degus Should You Get?
Wild degus live in groups comprising about a hundred animals. These rodents have built their lives around a community, and most of their activities mirror this. For instance, they snuggle to keep each other warm, simultaneously dig burrows, or alternate when digging and groom each other.
To guarantee your pet degu is comfortable in its new environment, get at least two of them to keep each other company and support the animals’ community spirit. It is also best to get your degus in a pair the first time.
Introducing a degu to another that has already adapted to its environment in captivity often breeds in-fighting. The exact number of degus that will suit you depends on:
- Your available accommodation space
- Whether you would like to breed and increase your pet numbers
- Your available time for taking care of the animals
Male or Female Degus – Which Should You Get?
Male and female degus display the same behaviors though each animal has its unique character. Even so, there are slight general differences in the way the two degu sexes act. For example, female degus are often more aggressive with each other compared to males and usually fight for cage dominance.
Moreover, it takes male degus a shorter time than females to get used to each other, and they are slightly more loving than the latter. Your choice between a male and female degu depends on your preferences since both sexes will act differently based on the situation.
What to do if One of Your Degus Die?
Sadly, most good things end at some point. You might have to deal with the loss of your degu despite your best care efforts. When your pet degu dies, here are some steps you can take to ease your grief:
- Talk to someone about your loss so that you have help grieving.
- Cry so that you let out your feelings.
- Take walks to help clear your head.
- Prepare a burial site, grave marker, and coffin.
- Dwell on the good times you spent with the degu rather than the bad ones.
After you have buried your degu, here are a few ways to move on from the loss:
- If necessary, visit the burial spot for your degu for closure.
- Check how well the remaining degus are coping with the loss, and if they have signs of depression.
- Move the things in your cage around so that the remaining degus are distracted from the absence of one of their own.
- Thoroughly clean the cage and toys to get rid of the scent of the dead degu. This has also been shown to improve the moods of other degus.
- Spend more time with your remaining degus.
Can a Degu Live as a Solitary Pet?
Yes, a degu can live alone. Even so, this should only be for a short while. Leaving your degu alone in its cage for a long time will leave it stressed because it is inherently social.
Moreover, this might cause it to develop antisocial behaviors like being overly aggressive. However, there are a few instances when it is best to keep a degu alone. These include when the animal:
- Displays anti-social behaviors and does not like being around other degus.
- Has gotten used to being alone after living for too long as a single pet.
- Has a contagious disease.
Can Degus Live and Get Along with Other Pets?
Yes, degus can live and get along with other pets. Nevertheless, it is not advisable to house degus with other species. Though the degus will not fight the other animals, they often have different housing and dietary needs.
For instance, most people keep degus and chinchillas or guinea pigs in the same cage believing they will get along and their care is easy because the animals are all rodents. Even so, these animals have different dietary requirements, sleeping patterns, and temperaments.
Degus, for example, eat 50% guinea pig and 50% chinchilla pellets, chinchillas eat chinchilla pellets while guinea pigs eat guinea pig pellets. Moreover, degus are diurnal, guinea pigs are neither strictly diurnal nor nocturnal, whereas chinchillas are nocturnal.
If you have different pet species, it is best to keep them in separate cages then allow them to socialize under supervision for only a few minutes at a time that is convenient for all of them.
The above facts have hopefully put your fears of owning several pet degus to rest. With the right care, degus are very affectionate and are guaranteed to introduce a lot of fun into your home.
To ease the care of multiple degus, introduce them to each other when they are less than ten weeks old. This way, the rodents will grow together and not fight as much. You can initially house them in separate cages or get a detachable one that can be separated into different quarters.
This gives them time to become accustomed to each other after settling down in their new environments.