As you should know, Degu’s thrive in social settings, and so it can be heart-breaking when one dies, leaving the other to soldier on alone. This guide is intended to inform you on how to introduce new Degus to fill that void, with hopefully the minimal of fighting and fuss. Degus are very territorial creatures, and so just placing a new Degu into the cage is likely to cause aggressive behavior and severe fighting, so before any face-to-face confrontations are made, your pets will need to get used to the sight, smell, and appearance of each other.
To introduce your new pets, you will need a large cage with a mesh divider down the middle horizontally, to keep the Degus separate, but they still can see and smell each other, giving the impression they are in the same group. Give the cage a thorough cleaning to remove any lingering scents of the previous Degu, as well as the current Degus scents. After this, place one Degu in the top section of the Cage and one in the bottom, ensuring both have the essentials they need i.e. water, food, nest box, toys, sand bath, and allow them to interact for 7-10 days uninterrupted unless they are fighting. The less time spent interacting can usually be a better sign, as they are not trying to attack each other.
After the initial phase, its time to mix it up a bit. Start swapping the Degus from top to bottom, ensuring there is still no face-to-face un-partitioned interaction. This way your Degus will explore the new scents more, and get familiar with each other before the big introduction. Do this once weekly for a long as you feel the Degus need to be familiarized with each other, a good sign being when they demonstrate no more defensive displays when interacting. When you believe this time has come, it is time for the hardest part, physical introductions.
Place your pets in a neutral territory where you do not have to worry about escape such as a bath tub (ensure it is completely dry to protect the Degu’s fur), and observe them interacting. As long as there is not any aggressive fighting, other than the usual mounting and slapping during dominance squabbling after 10 minutes return the Degus to their separate cage compartments and repeat the process after a few days, increasing the time by 20 minutes each time. If introductions are rushed, and severe fighting begins, you may need to start all over again.
After a few days, repeat the meeting, but then place both Degus back into the same section of the cage, and see how it goes. If they settle in together, leave them overnight to see if they display standard group behaviors such as huddling together to sleep. If they are not quite ready, separate them and repeat the introduction process again. IF things go well overnight, leave them for one night and then move them both to the other section of the cage, repeating the process to make both sides smell the same. IF relations are still good, move then back to the bath tub, and remove the divider, ensuring not to disturb anything else in the cage. Place them back in, and if all is well, congratulations on introducing your new Degu Colony! If fighting becomes severe in the cage, separate them as soon as possible. IF at any point signs of aggression of excessive fighting is shown, move back a stage to be safe.
As sad as it may be, some Degus will not live happily with others under any conditions whether or not they were in a group before, and pet shops are often full of deserted pets that can not find a home. In this case, it will be up to you whether to carry on trying or keep the Degu as a single. They can still live healthy lives alone, but will not be as happy, and you must try and cater for the social interaction they will be missing.