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The socialization of degus is possible in most cases, of course it depends on the character, the liking and the age, gender of the degus. The younger the degus are put together, the more problem-free it is.
To observe the social behavior of degus when group reunions (socializations) well. Due to the hierarchy and territorial order, new animals may not simply be added to existing animals, the existing group vehemently defends its territory against intruders. You need a certain process, patience and calm so that the socialization works. Otherwise this can lead to serious rank fights up to and including the death of one of the animals. Therefore, the following variants of socialization should be used.
It is relatively easy to keep young animals together until they have reached sexual maturity (7-12 weeks old, a little older is also possible). These have hardly any pack smell, they do not yet have a fixed rank and quickly get together.
An adult degu should ideally be kept with two or more young animals, this reduces the risk of territorial fights and quickly forms a fixed hierarchy. The young animals will then quickly submit to the old degu.
Getting adult animals used to one another is time-consuming and should only be attempted with the help of experienced deguaters.
The right partner choice
Sympathy values also count for degus, the characters of the degus should fit together and the age should not be too far apart if they are kept two. There are both dear, trusting, submissive degus as well as strong characters who do not tolerate any other dominant degus in their territory and drive them away / bite away with all their strength.
Not all degus go together, if they react very aggressively to each other and show an excessive aversion to the new partner, then no further attempt should be made to force these two degus together.
New degus that are to be incorporated into an existing group should be quarantined for at least one to two weeks in advance. The degus can carry germs that do not exist in the existing degu group. Unfortunately, due to non-compliance with the quarantine, many degus owners have brought serious diseases into the groups. Degus from unknown origins (found animals) should be examined by a veterinarian and also kept in quarantine. Young animals should not be kept in quarantine, at least one adult or already existing Degu should keep them company. When in doubt, separated by a grid.
Only if you can really be sure that the animals are healthy and have not yet developed any diseases, they can be socialized immediately. So far there has been no reason to keep one of my degus in quarantine. The cages should also be cleaned and the existing odors should be eliminated.
Partition grid method
The degus are separated from each other by bars in order to get them used to each other for a long time. This method is also used with degus who were already socialized and quarreled, or were separated because of illness, in order to get them used to each other again. Even with degus who are very dominant or aggressive, the dividing grid has proven itself for me. The cage is separated in such a way that the degus have enough space but can still see each other but cannot smell. The degus must have enough space to be able to withdraw and to be able to interact with the bars.
The situation is assessed after the first few days or weeks at the partition grille. If the degus behave calmly and without aggression at the partition, further steps can be taken.
Some litter, the sleeping house, the sand bath or furnishings are changed from one side to the other every few days. In this way they take on the smell of the others and over time merge into a group (smell-related). In the case of peaceful or younger degus, it may even be enough to just swap the sand bathtubs every day so that the animals get a similar smell.
The degus swap sides goes a little further than just swapping furnishings. This means that about weekly (depending on the behavior of the animals) the groups change the sides of the cage. Switching sides is only recommended if the animals are tame and easy to catch.
If strong aggression is shown on the grid or within the existing group after the page swap, the page swap should be avoided and furnishings should be swapped again. The page swap should not take place more than twice a week to reduce the stress of a new environment.
If the degus want to attack each other through the bars, their fur is bristling and they act aggressively (loud beeping, biting into the bars, vicious tail wagging), the groups must not be left together under any circumstances. It may take a few weeks, even months, for them to settle down. In most cases, however, around four weeks of equipment replacement and partitions are sufficient.
As soon as the degus behave peacefully on both sides of the partition, ie no wagging their tails, chirping, sitting next to each other, possibly ignoring them and showing no aggression, they can be put together under observation. Either place the new degus in the existing group / side of the cage or remove the partition. There must be no bites in the direction of the throat / stomach, and they must not turn into a ball. Rank fights on the hind legs and kicks must be tolerated, but should be observed and must not take place permanently. The degus should stop again and again and devote themselves to other things, for example eating, walking around etc. The degus must be observed for the first few hours.
Order of precedence
Degus have a strict group hierarchy that is clearly regulated. The hierarchy is fought over and over again with degus, so there will be battles over and over again with both females and males, but these are completely normal and "usually" take place without major injuries. B. by mutual boxing, riding and chasing the animals among themselves.
If there are heavily bleeding wounds or the inferior degu is permanently attacked by the stronger, then the degu holder is in demand. A brief distraction from one another, for example with a new toy in the cage, could defuse the situation.
However, if you separate the degus too early - take them out and put them in another cage - then they can become completely alienated and may have to be re-socialized. It could also contribute to the fact that these degus never get along again. Therefore, it is not advisable to keep quarreling degus apart for a few days. The holder should not artificially intervene in the hierarchy.
Territorial behavior means that the place that a degu claims for itself is defended against other degus that do not belong to the group. This can be both harmless and aggressive.
Therefore, socialization is always carried out in the cage, here the animal smells mix and a new common territory can be formed.
DThe exercise on neutral ground is not recommended because the new area can quickly lead to fights which most owners do not recognize in time, which can lead to serious injuries. Due to the new area "the neutral ground", not only the order of precedence has to be clarified but also the claim to the area, which leads to unnecessarily many fights and the associated stress.
Both groups / individual animals are alien on neutral soil, so it can briefly appear as if both groups are now united. However, this is deceptive! As soon as the group is put together in the cage, the new group / individual animal is an intruder and is bitterly hunted down.
If you already have the degus on the dividing grid and then decide to put them together on neutral ground, it can happen that the degus become alienated again due to the territorial fights and you have to start all over again.
Therefore, please never try to bring them together (socialization) on neutral ground .
When do you have to intervene in a fight? More about it here
As long as the degus do not sit together as a ball of fur for longer than 5 seconds and bite each other during the socialization attempts, no action should be taken, but immediately afterwards.
That means: it is only separated when you bite into the throat or abdominal region.
Do not reach in between with your hand! - the degus are usually so in a rage that they bite into everything that comes too close because of sheer excitement - and a degus bite is very painful. With a piece of cardboard or a slipper you can easily step in between and take out a degu as soon as they move away from each other. Blowing on is also sometimes successful, so the degus let go of each other briefly and you can separate them.
Baby powder has no place in socialization. The superimposition of the smell of the new degus only has a short-term effect and does not replace socialization - the new animal has a neutral smell for a short time, but its own odor comes back quickly and at this moment it is perceived as an intruder. Therefore, this “hop and clean” method can lead to heavy or fatal fights. Other home remedies should also be avoided.
Water degus must never be splashed with water! Washing is also absolutely taboo!
The panic box - or the small-scale method , is a dangerous variant that leads to extreme stress for the animals and is contrary to animal welfare. The animals are put in the smallest possible box and put into an even greater fear-stress situation, for example by placing them on a washing machine for hours, shaking the box or doing other things. The aim of this procedure should be to force the degus through this stress and fear of death to form a group as protection against predators and the unknown situation.
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