I got Jack and Jill in March of 2008. They came from an exotic animal auction in Ohio. I believe they were siblings and probably 8 weeks old. I had never seen Degus before and was thrilled to learn about caring for them. They are little rodents from South America. There they are considered farm pests, but here they are pets.
Long story short, Jack died of heat exhaustion while I was out on lecture in August 2009. Even with windows down in the car, it is too hot for an animal. A horrifying event that still haunts me and a tough lesson learned.
Jack was very friendly and loved to be held and take dust baths. Jill was not friendly, hated to be held and despised dust baths. They love to wheel on a mesh type wheel, squeak for treats and have special diets since they are prone to diabetes.
My mother and I talked a lot to Jill but didn’t hold her often. After a couple years, she began liking a dust bath once a week.
Jill’s troubles began in September of 2013. She was having difficulty walking and was tipping over. She ventured to the vets to have her ears flushed. Who knew that you had to clean a Degu’s ears? She scratched but it wasn’t like she was digging at her ears. But alas, I was a poor caretaker and should have don the heavy gloves to check those little ears.
She was on antibiotics for a month and because of the infection, her head tilted. She continued to do well even with a head tilt. I was diligent about keeping her ears cleaned.
In early March 2014 Jill had a seizure but pulled through. March 15th she was going downhill. Her weight had dropped to 7.8oz from her stocky 11oz. She was sleeping in various spots. I debate as to whether the ear cleanings were detrimental to her health. Too much disturbance in the ear? I will never know. The vet believes the ear infection might have affected her brain. Jill had a seizure that evening but recovered by 2:30am on the 16th. She drank a bit of water that day, ate a nut and at 7:30pm she died in my hands while I comforted her. The last photo I have of her is from September 2013. As her health declined, I avoided taking photos as who wants to remember your Degu getting sick and old.
It is difficult writing this as it was to watch the life drift from her. Jill was 6 years old and the lifespan of a Degu is 6-8. So, she was about 80 years old in human years. Pretty good for a little rodent. She might not have been the most affectionate animal but she was very dear to my mother and I. She really did have the best life and I spared nothing for her after her brother died. We spoiled her.
Rest in peace little Jill. I will see you again one day.