In the wild, they live in communal groups, working together to protect their territory from other communities. They enjoy feeding and grooming together – and also use one another for security by making vocal ‘alert’ sounds and body movements.
Ideally, degus should be housed in same-sex pairs, or a castrated male can live with one or more females. Introducing degus to a new companion is possible but must be done with great care and patience. They can be extremely territorial and aggressive if it’s not done correctly.
Introducing your degus to each other
When introducing degus, use the split mix or side-by-side method. This involves having their cages side-by-side for a week or two to allow them to get used to the possibility of living together.
If your degus show aggression through the bars at each other, you will need to make the distance between the cages slightly bigger – and then, slowly bring them closer together again.
Once they are quite content with the arrangement, allow them to have some free-range time together in a secure, degu-friendly room. Place healthy treats, food, boxes and items for them to investigate around the room.
You may need to carry this out for 10-15 minutes daily for a week or so until they seem content with each other and you are observing friendly behavioural signs.
Signs your degus accept each other
- Groom themselves or each other
- Eating contently alone or with the new companion
- Sitting next to each other
- Following each other in a calm, relaxed manner whilst exploring.
If you see these signs, place your degus together in a clean, neutral cage. Ideally, do this in the morning after an exploring session, as they are more likely to settle down and sleep than squabble.
Signs your degus may not be suited
- Teeth chattering towards each other
- Constant vocal grumbles and squeals towards each other
- Actively seeking the other out and starting a fight
- Rearing up at each other, mouths open
- Full fight or fur flying
- Any injury or blood – ideally split them up before this is allowed to happen. Any injuries, no matter how minor, should be monitored by a vet to avoid infection.
Follow all the steps listed above and there’s an excellent chance your degus will bond and become lifelong friends. Good luck.