I just wanted to share the good news that the degus are finally integrated! They have been living together now for a month since their first “sleepover” on Sunday 27th March.
In the last degu post I mentioned how the intros weren’t off to the best of starts but we persevered. We spent about a hour each day before bedtime (degus are diurnal so most active at dawn and dusk) doing intros. We started with having them separated by one of the panels of the run and feeding them near each other to hopefully create positive associations for Abel being near the babies .
After a few times doing that he wasn’t making any aggressive gestures through the bars so we decided to take the barrier away and let them interact in a fairly empty run. We took out most things to avoid guarding or if they fought so they wouldn’t get stuck in any enclosed spaces making it difficult to intervene.
We did this process (separated in the run until settled, swapping the sand baths then removing the barrier) for another while as we were set back a few times by fighting which got slightly heated but nothing too viscous. They were able to eat hay together and forage for herbs without any fighting which was a positive sign. After that we were able to swap the sand baths in their cages and plop them straight into the run together with no issues.
They were getting there but we still had some preparations to do before we could put them in the same cage together. First we had to start introducing more “furniture” into the pen such as their wheel and tunnels etc so they could get used to sharing with each other. We also started feeding them their meals in the pen to see how they would react. They had a few warbles and shoving over their food bowls but otherwise they were happy to share their wheel and did lots of grooming.
The final step of the intros was to get them used to being in the big cage together which took another bit of time as we did only short periods to begin with and increasing the duration. They had a few scuffles to begin with as they had to establish their “hierarchy” again in a new area but they eventually were able to tolerate each other longer and longer each time. Finally on that Sunday night they were so settled in the cage and after we got ready for bed we decided to leave them in overnight and they have been a little degu pack since 🙂
I am so pleased with them, they are all so settled and it really was worth all the effort and time we put in. They all seem much happier now together, the babies aren’t as nervous and Abel has stopped accepting rubs from us, which was really bittersweet but it means that he actually was crying out for company and now he’s happy with his little adopted goo brothers. I really do love the little critters, they are family to us 🙂