The pups just arrived and are VERY active and curious. None of them are afraid of hands and take treats from them just fine, and they're all actively exploring the cage, wrestling and looking for treats. They were obviously handled a lot in the store. None of them are too intrested in climbing onto hands just yet, but none have problems being touched. Very promising!
Pulla's reaction is also promising. He's obviously pretty confused/surprised about this, but he doesn't seem to be reacting with any aggression. I put the cages fairly close together so they could actually get a good look at each other, and all of them have been very intrested in looking at the other cage. Pulla's been marking his side of the cage pretty heavily, but I don't see any actual marks of aggression. He's gnawing at the bars a bit, but that's regular behavior for him and just means he wants to get through them. Both of them received treats close to each other as well and were happy about that.
I'll see how it develops, but for now, Pulla doesn't seem to be too cross about new neighbors. One of the grils looks like she might be giving him some wary looks, though.
As an quick update, all the degus have essentially lost interest in each other in the span of 4 hours. Pulla is doing his regular things and kinda coming over to look at the pups every now and then before carrying on, and the pups barely even notice him now. I think it's a good sign?
After the initial excitement, the pups have also normalized very nicely, and two of them are essentially acting as if it's all business as usual, running around in the wheel, looking for snacks and finding the best spots to nap in. One of the pups (funnily enough, the most curious and the bravest one in the store) seems a bit more wary and is spending a lot of time huddled in hard-to reach places, but will activate and go look around at random intervals.
All in all, pleasantly surprised with how well everyone seems to be taking this.
I actually took bouncy's advice and made a quick tryout to see how Pulla would react to the babies in person since they were doing so well in separate cages. I used the old baby rat cage and allowed them all to mingle there. It actually went pretty well... for a bit at least! The girls were way too worked up over the whole thing and started kinda freaking out and jumping around in the small cage, and one of them got spooked by Pulla and jumped at him screaming. Seemed like a good place to call it quits for now.
Pulla, however, showed no aggression at all. He was more curious about the cage than anything, and didn't do anything other than inspecting the pups. When he got jumped and kicked by the spooked pup, he just backed off quickly and didn't in respond to the aggression at all. So that seemed like a very good sign.
Seems like I might have to come up with a bigger intro area though. The biggest problem seemed to be that the small, enclosed cage made the pups very nervous. They all seemed to be kinda on edge, which obviously didn't help. But still, very encouraging that Pulla seemed to have no issue with them.
They've had a lot to adjust to today with the trip, the new cage, the new degu in the other cage, and the new sights sounds and smells to the new house. That smaller space to meet face to face might have been too much stimulation, but it didn't go badly and that's good. Pulla sounds like he handled himself really well!
1 Bichon/Shi-t-zu Ollie (b'gollie), 1 Standard poodle, Indie
Yeah, I think I'll give it more time before trying again. Even Pulla now seems to have suddenly realized that the little brat punched him, so he's actually a bit more cross about the whole thing after the fact
It's nothing serious probably, but it looks like Pulla's now looking at the pups a bit more critically, so I'll want the next meeting to go smoother. Wait a few days until the pups are settled and come up with a bigger, less stressful space. I did notice that the pups started outright fighting during the trip home in their carrier, which is kind of understandable since just a week ago they had to be in a transport cage for a whole day and things have been happening really quickly for them. So I think the small plastic cage was a bit traumatic for them...
(But for the most part all seems to be well now that they got back in their cage. They're lounging together and sleeping.)
Uh-oh. It seems like the situation yesterday might have caused some actual issues, going forward. Both Pulla and the girls are more tense about each other now, and I've seen a few screaming situations. I actually moved the cages a bit farther apart.
It seems like the girls are now convinced that Pulla is some sort of a crazed murderer waiting to eat them (which I suppose is not totally unreasonable, he is large and a stranger), and when they start to get too close to each other, one of the girls will start screaming and pawing at him. Pulla will then reply by making this very weird whining cry himself and they all get worked up over it. Pulla honestly doesn't seem like an aggressor as such, but he seems to react very badly to the girls being mean to him. It doesn't sound like the usual angry cry, more like a weird whining "anguished" cry. It's strange.
It looks like the girls need more time to get more confident. They seem pretty scared at the moment in general, so dealing with Pulla just might be too much for them right now.
Limppu, one of the girls, seems to be particularly stressed out, in that she actually starts to scream loudly in general when these situations happen, rather than just at Pulla. Like, she stands up on the feet and lets out a horrid cry (not an alerted cry, it's a territorial angry cry). I've never seen anything like that with Pulla or Munkki. Maybe she's feeling it particularly bad since she's alone while Suti and Posso are sisters.
They're all that age now, I suppose. The oldest is now 9 weeks, the two others just reached 8 weeks. I've also seen one of them mounting the other, so it could certainly be. A bad time for introductions, in that case.
How often do degus go into heat and how long does it last, in general?
It lasts about 2-3 days, and occurs about every 3 weeks. If the oldest is 9 weeks, she's likely to be the main suspect. If you can get a look at her undercarriage, you may be able to see if it's slightly inflamed.
The presence of Pulla could have triggered it, or it could just be a coincidence.
I did actually notice that one of the girls had rather puffy parts, yeah, when I put them in the cage. I checked and they don't seem to be puffy on anyone today, although they look slightly different on Posso today (not so swollen, but the cone looked a bit thicker). Posso also seems to be the one either mounting or being mounted a lot. Posso is also the one who seems to be most intrested in Pulla, in the sense that she spends a lot of time just looking at him and trying to reach him through the cage. Of course, she isn't the one screaming at him, but still.
I'll keep an eye on how they behave over the next couple of days. Pulla seems to be having a fit about the girls again and is making that weird whine and gnawing at his bars while looking at them.
I would keep the girls further away from Pulla for a while, and you can even put a solid barrier between them, a sheet of cardboard or something. It might help them to forget that yesterday didn't go so well and calm everyone down. You could give it a couple more days to decide if you need to do this if you aren't sure if it is worth it, Pulla may prefer to be able to keep an eye on the youngsters.
It's common when you first bring young degus home that they will scrap for a while because they suddenly don't have a parent who is the boss and they have to figure out their heirarchy, plus it may be a little more complicated for you as they aren't all littermates.
Just bear in mind that this is actually quite a complicated introduction with pups from two litters plus Pulla and that going a bit slower can sometimes make it go faster in the long run.
Yeah, I took the cages a bit farther apart, but things seem to have calmed down towards the evening. The girls actually seem to prefer sleeping all huddled up right next to Pulla's cage, so it doesn't seem like they're totally apprehensive of him. There'd be plenty of other spaces to sleep, but they prefer sleeping as close to him as possible, WHILE he's staring down at them .
I'm still gauging whether or not a sight blocker would help. Pulla seems to be very intrested in observing the girls at least, and there hasn't been screaming after I moved them farther apart. Some chirping though, and some simultaneous cage gnawing, but that seems pretty standard. The spot is where Pulla often gnaws on his bars anyhow.