Degus are sturdier rodents than some of the other hand held pet options but that doesn't mean care shouldn't be taken while picking up and holding them. To create a safe and enjoyable experience for both you and your degus some basic handling rules should be followed.
Many pet rodents can be picked up by the base of their tails but pet degus should never be picked up or restrained by any part of their tail. The skin on their tail will slough off if it used to hold them and will result in a very painful (and grotesque) thing. Degu tails are not built like some other rodent tails, such as chinchillas, and using them as a handle will hurt them. So in a nutshell, don't grab their tail!
Picking Up Your Degu
We've already discussed not picking your degu up by his tail so you may be wondering how you're supposed to catch your South American rodent to hold him. Tame degus will allow you to scoop them up by putting one hand on either side of their body and scooping underneath him with your cupped hands.
You can also use a towel or small blanket to put over them and use to scoop them up if you don't feel comfortable with them sitting on your bare hands yet.
If your degu is tame enough you may be able to gently pick him up behind his front legs by using just one hand. Create the letter "C" with your hand and gently, but firmly, grasp your degu and place him in your lap or on the floor (in a safe area of course).
Taming Your Degu
If your degu isn't very tame, but rather still quite skittish, you may need to be patient and work with him before you can easily pick him up. Start by offering him special treats like a sunflower seed or peanut to encourage him to come up to your hand. Eventually move that treat farther up your hand and onto your wrist so you encourage him to hop onto your hand. He will learn to not be scared of your hands and even get excited to see you if you are patient in taming him.
Restraining Your Degu
You need to be careful when restraining your pet degu. As we discussed previously, you cannot hold your degu's tail to keep him in your hand or lap. Therefore, you need to hold his body gently, but firmly, just as though you were picking him up. You can then secure him on your lap or in your arms while keeping one hand placed on his body. You should never let your degu sit on your hand without holding him if you are standing up as he could jump out of your hands and hurt himself.
Degus are social creatures. Even though they should be housed with other degu friends they can become very tame to their human friends as well. The younger your degu is when you start handling him the better but even older degus can learn new tricks and get used to being handled. By exhibiting patience you'll be holding your degu in no time at all!
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