On Sexing Degus and the Related Challenges

You’ll all recall that about a year ago, we bought TRC a couple of pets for his birthday. Cute little Degus, which are a Chilean rat. (Rats become cute once they’re not from your country. I imagine American rats are all the rage in Chile.) They were brothers, and only six weeks old. The kids have had a blast with them. The degus live in a cage by our television, and I like to think they’re the most pop-culture-infused Chilean rats in the world. Sometimes they run on their wheel. Other times they eat their house. It’s a fun filled existence for two bachelors.
Sunday, TRC and I were playing some Magic in the living room, enjoying a restful afternoon. TRC looks up at the cage and says, “Dad! There are baby degus in there!”
I admit it: I discounted his statement immediately. “You must have seen a reflection,” I said. And TRC took my word for it. We went back to playing. Degu brothers, after all, do not make little degu babies.
Two minutes later, TRC repeated: “I’m serious. There are baby degus in there!”
Now I’m alarmed. While we don’t have baby degus in our house, we do have mice. My first instinct was that somehow a freeloader mouse had moved in with the degus. Disgusting. So I turn around and head to the cage to see . . . 
A baby degu. Slightly bigger than a quarter. Scurrying around. Then another. And another.
The brothers ain’t brothers.
So then of course I was focused on what in the world we were going to do. Do degus eat their young? (I didn’t want THAT to happen in front of my kids.) They don’t. Phew! Do the babies need anything special? No. Just extra food for mom. What were we going to do with them? We called the pet store where we got them, and they said they’d be happy to take them off our hands. So now we don’t need to worry about degu disposal. Apparently the little critters are tremendously popular, and I can see why. They’re cute, cuddle, pretty neat, not very smelly, and they live to be 8 or 9 years old.
So all’s well that ends well. The degu babies are living quite happily so far. I’m hoping they don’t catch a chill or die–our house isn’t the warmest in the winter. But we’ve covered their cage with a blanket to keep the warmth in. There are at least three, but we’re not sure yet if there are any more. And we’ll have them for six weeks or so before we send them off to the store, where they can go on to have happy lives with other people. I imagine we’ll keep the degu “brothers” together. They’re friends, and I don’t want to split them up.
And next time they have babies, I won’t be nearly so shocked . . . 

1 thought on “On Sexing Degus and the Related Challenges”

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