Post by kennethsmithesq on Apr 24, 2021 17:32:48 GMT
Pollux (old degu) and Syrius (a young, energetic one) took a long time to accept each other. They eventually bonded very well for about a month. Pollux had cystitis and had to go the vets for antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. When he came home, he and Sirius had a very nasty fight (ball of death) with an injured eye for Pollux. We kept apart until Pollux was completely well again. Now when we try them together, they always grind their teeth, wag their tails, push their bums into each other’s faces for about 3 minutes until a big fight starts and we split them again. Does. Any one have any advice? (It’s worth saying that Sirius has two new pups to look after and has formed a good bond with them. We got the pups just before this whole thing started, and at that time the pups were terrified of both P and S. Only since Pollux’s Illness and separation have the pups and Sirius started getting on really well.)
It sounds like a lot is going on at once. How old is Sirius? Depending on his age he might have gone through hormonal changes and Pollux being away for a bit might have triggered a reaction in him, especially if there are also new pups present. It's possible that Sirius has adopted the pups and decided that this is now his pack, and Pollux coming back makes everything more complicated in a way he does not appreciate. They weren't bonded for a long time, so even a slight change might have compromised this fragile bond, and new pups certainly would change the dynamic up completely.
How long was Pollux away for, exactly? It's possible that there was a weird smell on him from the medicine or being handled or just the vet in general (even other animals might have left residual smells) which triggered something.
In any case, it sounds like the whole thing has essentially reset now. You will have to start again from scratch, it sounds like. The behavior you're describing is rather standard territorial struggling that degus that do not get along exhibit.
Post by kennethsmithesq on Apr 24, 2021 17:52:53 GMT
Thanks - this all sounds very plausible. Sirius is about 7 months old. Pollux is over 4 years (we don’t know exactly). Pollux was at the vets for a few hours so not long, but certainly long enough to smell strange (he’d also had an ultra sound procedure). Should we just occasionally keep trying to re-introduce Pollux and Sirius in neutral territory like we did in the first place (like the bath tub)? The cage divides well so that they can live very happily apart for as long as needed. Thanks for your advice.
Sirius is young enough that he'll be going through hormonal changes right now and in the future, which often causes issues like this. It's strange that it went like this in just a few hours, but all in all it does sound like Sirius is still going through a lot of hormonal stuff, and new pups in the area as well as a weird smell on a degu he has only recently been introduced to would cause it.
How long ago did this happen? If it's just recent, it might be that giving them some timeout would help. I would recommend that you start doing normal introduction techniques, like dividing the cage (do be mindful of the fact that they can easily bite at any appendages that the other might push through the bars etc), bathing them in the same sand (not at the same time, but the same sand so they'll have similar smell), swapping used bedding between the cages and so on. Observe how they behave towards each other over the coming days and see how well they start to react to each other.
When you start actually introducing them face the face, absolutely do use a neutral area. And if you can put them together again, the living area will need to be cleaned thoroughly (otherwise the degu whose area it is can easily feel really territorial.
Where are the pups at the moment? Are they in the same cage with Sirius for now? You should maybe be prepared for the fact that this arrangement can become very unstable. The pups will go through hormonal changes in a few months as well, and the presence of a tense dynamic like an introduction situation can easily trigger dominance fights in them as well. For that reason, it would be a good idea to be prepared and have an additional cage of some sort in case you quickly need to separate someone from the group. Hopefully that won't happen, but you are essentially dealing with a hormonal teenager and two preteens, as well as an older man. It can become an issue.
EDIT: Should also mention that it's not too uncommon for degus that have been introduced together to suffer a relapse in aggression in any case, especially if the introduction was hard. Degus are big personalities and sometimes they can clash.
Post by kennethsmithesq on Apr 24, 2021 20:13:34 GMT
Thanks again. This happened about a month ago. The boys definitely have strong personalities. We got Sirius at 8-weeks old to keep Pollux company (his lifelong friend had died). They didn’t get on very well at first - Sirius is very energetic indeed and I think was too hyperactive and wouldn’t settle down. After a while they got on really well. But we felt Sirius should have a younger friend and the two pups needed a home so we took them in.
Sirius and Pollux both took to the pups well but the two little pups were both unbelievably afraid and would snap and fight with the adults (who just used to try and keep them calm). Then Pollux got ill and all went strange.
We had three separate areas of the huge cage, but soon the pups suddenly started loving Sirius and they’re all inseparable now. They follow him everywhere and they are thick as thieves.
It sounds like we shouldn’t try to force a complex introduction. Perhaps just keep introducing Pollux slowly in neutral space and see how it goes? The other three all know who he is as they know where he lives and interact with him quite a bit. It’s such a shame as Pollux and Sirius were behaving like mature parents when the pups came. We think Pollux is actually quite happy on his own though. He has a top floor flat in a very tall cage. We can also split it into 3 levels if the need ever arises.
Sirius is wonderful. He was born in a rescue centre with a load of sisters, so he was separated. All the staff loved him. He adores humans and loves playing with us - he’ll drop food to come and jump onto our shoulders! But he is a bit stubborn and he is prone to nipping if he doesn’t get his own way! Pollux is a bit grumpy off and on, and doesn’t suffer fools! The pups - Regulus and Rigel - are both equally friendly. Lovely things.
It sounds like you are really fond of your degus. It's good to hear that you care about them a lot, and they do sound quite lovely
It's for the best to take your time introducing Pollux back to the group and carefully observe how they react to each other over that time. You can get them used to having each others' scent on them with the kind of tricks I mentioned, and it's good they're close to each other so that Pollux can at least know that he has other degus neaby, but this sounds like a potentially volatile situation that shouldn't be rushed.
I had two degus who weren't brothers but were of the same age and from the same breeder, and they got along together very well until they started hitting that adulthood stage, which is about where Sirius is right now (they start to be fully adults only after one year, and they have a lot of hormonal activity going on during this time). After this, it was very hard to get them to cooperate and they had to be kept separate for the most part. These things do happen, sadly, but they can still benefit from having familiar neighbors even if they don't always get along.
For now, it sounds like you're putting in a lot of effort to ensure that they're all taken care of and that they're feeling as good as possible. Hopefully things will improve with time and patience!
Kennethsmithesq it's been a while since we last saw you! I'm sorry they have had a falling out. Vet visits can hugely unsettle a bond that isn't yet cemented, and it sounds like that was the case when Polluk had to go to the vet because of the cystitis. The very strange smells that would have been on him when he returned probably scared Sirius, and that resulted in the fight, which could also have planted some resentment and then a grudge . . . degus hold MASSIVE grudges when they decide they have one. Being apart for the month of healing will have given all of that some roots so it will take some time to dig those out and help them over it.
I'm going to suggest that for the time being you follow this from our fighting guide: With this in mind, we highly recommend that you daily share the same bathing sand between ALL degus that you desire to introduce! You need to do this for a period of at least a 7 - 14 days, and you must NOT change or renew the bathing sands. Let it get very soiled. The more "chemical" information that is deposited in the sand, from both urine and anal glands, and shared on the coats of each degu, the more they will recognize each other as part of their colony. This will further promote your efforts to introduce and bond your degus to each other.
Teemu is correct that Sirius in now in the adolescent stage, and it sounds like he is full of all the bravado and boldness that come with it. The above important for introductions and helping your boys to accept each other. . . but it will not ensure a good reintroduction because you have some powerful things firmly in place that will repeatedly assert themselves. Adolescence, which can last up to 18 months, and the grudge . . . which seems to be a rather nasty "brain worm" that is resistant to removal. If they follow the usual patterns for degus, you could have most of a year ahead of you with them apart.
That doesn't mean don't do the sand bath thing. DO use it, and keep it up . . . because one day you will suddenly find they are more amiable to each other, and the fact they smell like colony mates will dramatically help. Swapping the same bath sand between them every other day, smelling each other in the sand, will build a foundation in their minds that will be very valuable to you. I would encourage you to not be thinking in terms of weeks, but rather months. Do this for 3-4 months, and then see what happens with an informal meet. Time helps those "grudge brain worms" die, and time helps Sirius grow and age, and both may be much needed for a strong and timeless bond to be formed between them.
This sand bath thing could also include the younger degus . . . but that is something for you to think on.
EDIT: Sorry, I got called away and when I came back I forgot where I was and didn't finish reading your post about Sirius and the pups being together now. Which is AWESOME! I still suggest the sand thing . . . you never know . . . you could have a happy group of four eventually.
Degus do seem to carry grudges really badly sometimes. They're really smart animals with a lot of personality, and they honestly feel like little humans sometimes with the way they behave. Just one bad experience can sometimes be very traumatic, in the sense that it leaves very long-lasting bad impressions. So it's easy to imagine that if Pollux had to be away for a weird procedure in a place he didn't like, poked by people he did not know, and then came back only to be attacked by this youngster who he's barely learned to put up with, he'd be seriously opposed to getting back together all happily right afterwards.
Time fortunately heals many things, so letting them patiently get used to each other again with the sandbath and all that will probably help a lot
Post by kennethsmithesq on Apr 24, 2021 22:41:02 GMT
Thanks everyone for the time you’ve taken with this advice. It means a lot to us. The long time frame will actually take pressure off us, and them, and it seems like a very solid plan. We’ll hopefully return to this thread in a few months with some good news. At least all four are very content at present. Thanks again,
Rather than trying to get Pollux and Sirius back together, you need to wait until they seem to WANT to be together. If they are okay in the separated cage, let them stay that way until there is no aggression at all between them, until they seem to be pining for each other. Do keep switching the sandbath between them all, so they all roll in the same sand and smell the same. Don't clean it, other than removing poos when they get excessive. You want them all to smell like the same tribe, pee, poo, and all. Strangers smell different. Family smells familiar.
As the others said, this could be a long-term reintroduction. Patience is key.