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An unexpected birth in the rodent room

Hello all

Smielda (Small and Field Animals Assistant) here again to let you know what has been happening on the section over the last week.

As you know we had a large intake of ex-caged birds on the field section. They arrived on Valentine’s weekend and immediately started a week’s treatment of anti-wormer, followed by a second week when you are unable to eat the eggs. We were hoping to start rehoming them to the people on the waiting list last weekend. However, they are still looking a little featherless, so the rehoming is on hold for a few days.

chickens enrichment

If you are interested in adopting our hens then go to our website and fill out a homefinder form http://www.woodgreen.org.uk/assets/0639/7573/Chicken_homefinder.pdf and return it to us. We will also need the dimensions and photos of the accommodation and run you will keep them in, so if you attach these to your e mail it will hopefully speed up the process.

We rehomed our four ducks this week – two Muscovys and two Aylesburys called Splish, Splash, Splosh and Spat (I think the new owner is planning to rename them!). Anyway, we have heard that they have settled in very well to their new home.

Both females were laying eggs on a daily basis. Duck eggs are a real treat and they also make cakes that are richer, fluffier and moister then ones made using chicken eggs. If you are entering a village cake baking competition then get your hands on some duck eggs. The only downside is that many duck breeds only lay in the spring.

We recently had an unexpected arrival on the Smalls section when are two female degus gave birth.

Deg-what I hear you ask.

Degus are one of the larger species of rodents and they originate from the desert-like scrub lands of central Chile.

degus feeding

If you are rehoming degus, you need to make sure they are all the same sex as they breed prolifically. They also have a long gestation period (about three months) which is why we have ended up with both females that came into the centre towards the end of last year giving birth.

We took in a group of four, two females and two males who had been kept together, resulting in seven degu pups.

They are friendly, intelligent and active animals, which is why they are becoming increasingly popular as pets.

They do need the company of their own kind, but with careful handling and regular interaction they bond closely with their human owners.

However, like all animals you need to give careful thought to whether you have the time and space to offer them the home they need. You should also keep in mind that their life expectancy is five to eight years, which is longer than many rodents.

The minimum size of cage needed for two-four degus is 1.3m high, by 1m long, by 0.7m wide. The base should be lined with absorbent material such as shredded paper, which enables them to dig. You should never use wood shavings as they may harbour parasites and are so dusty that they can lead to breathing problems in you and your animals.

Great enrichment for your degus includes cardboard boxes (such as old shoe boxes) or wooden boxes (such as an old bread bin), which can be filled with bedding materials for them to nest in. We also put in branches, old cd towers, hammocks etc. for them to climb on, as well as large cardboard tubes for them to run through. Your degus will also appreciate you putting in a chinchilla sand bath.

degus how many

Each week (when you do a full clean out of the cage) it is good fun to move things around and put in new pieces of enrichment to keep you and your degus entertained.

The bulk of their diet is  hay, which should be available around the cage. You can also add dried herbs such as mint, along with nettles, fruit branches and small amounts of leafy green vegetables. You will also need to offer your degus a small amount of dried pellet feed. It is best if they have to forage for their food, rather than having it all provided in a bowl.

Degus are rather resilient animals and any health problems tend to be as a result of poor diet (e.g. they can develop diabetes if given large quantities of starchy or sugary foods), or inadequate accommodation, for example poor hygiene or incorrect bedding material can lead to increased levels of ammonia in the living accommodation triggering respiratory disease and not providing fruit or willow tree branches to gnaw on can lead to dental problems.

We would be really pleased if people would like to talk to us about rehoming our degus.

We currently have one single boy desperately looking for a home with at least one other boy. Sadly he came in here on his own and wouldn’t mix with the two boys we already have. If any of the pups are boys we may try mixing them, but they have a few weeks to go until they can be weaned.

We also have two other boys looking to be adopted  and in a few weeks time we will have two older ladies, plus our new litter looking for homes.

Another thing to remember is that degus are fast and the worst thing you can do is grab them by the tail, as they come off very easily, which will be a nasty shock to you, and an even worse one to your degu…

If you feel you can offer a home to these, or any other animals please contact us at smallanimalwelfare@woodgreen.org.uk.

Ps This week we say 'Hello' to Cookie the guinea pig, mice Binky, Splash and Sparkle, rabbits Chief Apache, Piglet, Boris, Justine and Harry and Romeo the rat.

We say 'Goodbye and good luck' to ducks Splish, Splash, Splosh and Spat, hamsters Princess Aurora, Snow White, Buttons, Princess Jasmine and Aramis, Bill the gerbil and rabbits Gisele, Kate Moss, Heidi Klum and Stanley.

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