How to Find a Lost Degu

Published in Degu FAQ, Featured, Housing & Cages  |  78 Comments

Ugho! Empty Cage, Open Door! Not Good! (credit below post)

One of the worst moments is when you look over at the cage or habitat and no one is inside!

We had that moment today with one of our newest degu’s: No Name. We looked at the cage and someone had left the top open and there was no one inside. Best we could guess the top was open for over 30 minutes and we began searching. We have a small apartment so she was very easy to find (under 5 minutes) but here’s what we find works best.

Step 1 – Get Quiet

We turned off everything that we could. TV, computer, fan, AC, portable heater even temporarily shut down any aquarium filters if your animals can tolerate that for a few minutes. This will help you hear anyone chewing on the floor, baseboards or furniture – and will also help you hear is anyone is chirping or yelling.

Step 2 – Lock it Down

Go and shut all the doors in the house, but mark which doors were open when the degu was discovered to be missing – if you have post it notes around you could use those, or place a shoe, sock or something unusual to find on the floor in front of the door. This will stop them from escaping to a different room if there’s a chase. Also, you may have to search through the house, room by room.

  • When you close off a room turn all the lights and tv’s off and even shut the shades

Step 3 – Secure Cabinets & Doors and Close Toilet Seats

If the degu could have escaped to the bathroom or kitchen then immediately search any cabinets that were open or any shelves that are within 18″ of the ground that may have cleaning products or food. Then if possible clear the whole room and close it off to continue looking for the lost degu.

If the bathroom is open make sure you check the toilet and close the toilet seat. I know it’s kind-of morbid but I’ve heard of pet rodents drowning int he toilet because they escaped and that’s the only water source then can find when not in their cages. Then do a sweep of the bathroom and any open cabinets. Then close off the room and continue looking.

If you have any open heating vents or doors dog doors I’d secure those too.

Step 4 – Start From the Ground Up

Grab your flashlight and search under everything – TV cabinets and stands, coffee tables, computer desks. Look under cabinets that are more than 1″ above the floor – degus fit just about anywhere. Check under the heaters, couches, beds, dressers etc. Piles of laundry, closets. It’s a pain but keep looking.

Step 5 – The Weird Places You May Find your Degu

Closed Dresser Drawers
You don’t always realize it but most dressers or cabinets with doors don’t have full bottoms. Small animals like degus and ferrets can get under the dresser, behind the drawer and hop right in. I’ve seen them do it – I used to live with someone who had 4 ferrets and I ended up boarding up the bottom of my dressers so I didn’t find any ferrets in my underwear drawer!

Inside Couches
If your couch pulls out, or has removable cushions a degu can get into the insides of the couch. Often times couches are “sealed” at the bottom with a very thin sheet of fabric that tears easily.
If you are concerned you have a degu in the couch you may have to flip it on it’s back to get them out. I’ve had more than one degu get away from me and into the couch – it stinks to get them out.

When You Find the Degu

When you locate the lost degu it’s important to be careful, gentle and talk to them. Often times they are scared. Use a baseball cap to scoop them up – it will smell like you which is comforting but often scares a degu less than your hands reaching for them.

Can’t find them?

There’s a certain point where you may be concerned you’ll never find your little buddy. Don’t fret yet! There were two times where my degus had gotten away from me and i had to search for them. The first time after Rascal had been lost for over an hour he got close to where I was and started crying and yelping. It still took me a good 10 minutes to catch him but he was in an unfamiliar place – no easily available water or food like in his cage, and no safe place to rest like in his cage.

Same thing happened today with No Name. She was in the bathroom after I’d shut the toilet seat and the door. It was dark and we think she got scared just like Rascal had before – we were in the other room and could hear her crying and tracked her down to the bathroom under the cabinet before we’d even finished looking in the living room.

Remember to NOT Make the Chase a Game

It’ so important to not let your degus think it’s a game when you are trying to catch them. It can be very fun for them but very stressful for you. All of my degus know that if I can’t get them in my hands or hat the first couple times I’ll just keep them cornered until they come to me. By cornered I mean making sure I have them in a small controlled area. When a degu is lost or loose there’s usually only one and they hate being alone. They love the attention and affection; if they know you can provide them with those things plus food and water they know who to come to when it’s time to go back in the cage.

Still Can’t Find Them?

I may have a freakishly good relationship with my degus – if you can’t find them you may need to set a trap. I don’t mean a mouse trap but a trap for catching mice, rats, chipmunks or squirrels might be good to have around. Just pick one that’s big enough to not catch their tail when it closes. You can usually find Havaheart traps at home improvement and tractor supply stores.

Best Way to Find a Lost Degu

Remember the best way to find a lost degu is to care for them properly by not leaving their cage open and by not using materials they can chew through or broken habitats!

Have any tips to share on how you’ve found your degu when they were lost – or how you caught them when they get loose? Share it in the comments below! It’ll end up helping someone later!


Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by Jez PageOriginal Photo of empty dog crate


  1. Kerrie
    March 20th

    We have had a couple of occasions when our degus have got out and we use their ball to catch them. We put the ball down low and tap it gently until they come to it. Once they have climbed in then you can return them safely to their cage.

  2. Kerrie thanks for sharing your tip – that reminds me, sometimes we use the wheel tho transport our degus places too. With most metal wheels the wheel detaches from the base and we’ll hold it close to the ground and let my big boy who is convinced he’s too big to be held hop in and then we transport him to the other cage when we clean his or to a setup play area. The wheel is very familiar to them so I bet it would work to coax an escaped degu into their wheel to help bring them safely home to their cage.

  3. Tofi
    April 4th

    I often setting traps using other degus. They come out to meet each other, then i can catch runner.

  4. Libby
    April 12th

    I trained my 2 male degus to associate my clicking with food(treats) so when one of them got out I just started clicking and he came running from under the sofa and let me pick him straight up ready for his treat.

  5. melanie
    May 16th

    I have a lil degu herd. There has been a steady stream of vet visits lately. So they are all pretty comfy with their carrier of them is kind of a runt and pretty damned sneaky ;-). So he gets loose every so often. I just keep a close eye on him and he tends to hop in his carrier and wait for me to put him back when he is done adventuring.

  6. Barb
    May 23rd

    Similar to Libby, we have been training out degus to associate the sound of a bell with a treat or food. Now when we feed or treat them, they come running when the bell rings. I know other degu owners who have used this technique as well to bring the babies home…

  7. ashleigh
    June 20th

    i have had a degu now for about three months and for some reason i still cannot handle him, everytime i try to touch him he will freak out and run off. He is confident to take treats out of my hands but thats about the only time he will come near my hands other than to sniff me and i was just wondering what i could do to make him confident enough for him to let me touch him or hold him in my hands. Thanks, ashleigh.

  8. Ashleigh – just spend plenty of time with them. It sounds like you only have one degu and as has been mentioned on the site a few times they are much happier, healthier and friendlier if they have someone else to play with.

    Sounds like you are doing good getting them to eat from your hands, I would recommend trying to get them out of the cage, either by allowing them to come out to a safe area or by scooping them up. They are always nervous when you first pick them up but if you’re wearing a sweatshirt or at least long sleeves you don’t get scratched by their nails and they have something to grip to which can alleviate their fright! Then it’s a matter of making sure they associate coming out nicely with good things, like treats when they get back in their cage.

  9. Stephanie
    August 5th

    I have just managed to get one of my degus back in it’s cage after over 2 hours of searching. I am completely fraught and I think my poor little friend is terrified. He is now back in his cage but is squeaking like I’ve never heard him do before, a really loud, piercing squeak every few seconds. I have tried him with some treats, but he really was very scratchy and nervous when I finally got hold of him, so I’m worried he’s hating me right now! Anyone have any suggestions? Thanks!

  10. Oh my goodness Stephanie, I’m so sorry that I missed your comment while I was on holiday!

    When degus are scared they will usually get just above their house or the the very top of their cages and squeek an alarm call. It’s not cause they hate you, it’s to alert degus in the area of something. I bet after letting him relax he settled back down huh? When mine get carried away with their alarm calls I sometimes cover the cage with a bed sheet (towels are very heavy) but make sure to not restrict air flow. The sheet makes it darker in their cage simulating evening or night when mine tend to relax the most.

  11. Melissa
    February 15th

    I just got a degu, and he’s already managed to escape. I have not had him long enough to form a bond, so he won’t come to me. At this moment, he is hiding under my desk drawers and I have all but one escape route blocked. Any suggestions for getting him out of there and back in the cage.

    On a separate note, I believe I’m going to have to get a different cage. I think he got out through the bars…

  12. I’ve been planning to buy a couple of degus for a while now but have been researching a lot before I do – I’m completely new to rodents (and these guys don’t seem like your typical rodent) and I want to know exactly what I’m getting into and how to take care of them first!

    How common is an escaped degu if they have a well-sealed and comfortable habitat? Also, when you take them out of the cage, are they more likely to run away than stay in view and play? Am I looking at chasing after degus and repairing chewed furniture for the next 5-10 years?

  13. Vicky
    October 20th

    Hi there our degus had 3 little girls. They are 9 weeks now and we are trying to get them back in the big cage (we had to take them out they were getting out between the rungs). So i tried them back in the big cage today; however the 3 babies managed to STILL escape! Between my 4 year old and I we managed to retrieve 2 of them. But there is still one running around the house someone. We’ve been listening and haven’t heard anything. Also we put some treats that she really likes on the floor to see if she would come to them and that’s been out for about 20 minutes now and she still hasn’t come. I’m beginning to worry about her! How long will she survive on her own away from her sisters and mom?

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  16. caitlin b
    March 26th

    Hi, I got 3 boys and I decided to let them out of the cage. When it came time to put them back in 2 came quietly but one of them refused to come and I had to grab him, he bit me 4 times before I could get him back in the cage. Is there any special way to make them come back to the cage? P.s do I need to put antiseptic on these bites , is there a chance for me to get anything from them?

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  18. Amanda
    May 16th

    Baby sitting 2 Degus getting them used to being handled. Went to feed them this morning one of the little critters escaped thought it would take ages to get him, I just shook the food jar and he appeared as from thin air. It took just 10 mins of panic to bring him back home. He looked really cheekily at me through the bars.

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  32. Teresa
    December 4th

    We got the degu about a month ago it’s my daugther n laws and we keep it here at my house.It escaped after the grandson left the cage open and we didn’t notice til the next day. She is under my stove I have tried everything to get her to come out with no luck. She keeps going somewhere up inside and runs when I get near her or she sees me..ughhh I don’t know what to do. She has been running loose for 5 days now.

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  35. Linnea
    February 19th

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  36. Amanda
    February 27th

    Hi! I am in a complete panic now ! :( my Degu escaped her cage it has been hours now Iv brought out her sister to play to “help” me find her. nothing seems to be working Iv seen her a few times but never got close to catch her and now I haven’t seen her for about an hour !! my son (5) is totally upset he LOVES her ! and I think its making me panic more

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  40. Nagi
    April 20th

    It’s great when you have a relationship with your degu on the off change he/she DOES become lost. We’ve had a few times….Especially when we had babies…That they would escape in some way.

    What I did, since my room has a lot of places I can’t move in case I injure them, was sit down in the middle of the room an allow them to come to me. They’re naturally very curious animals, and they also know my voice and my smell. Unfortunately it is a little bit of a game to them, but since we have a good bond it’s rarely a long game. They will usually come out and sniff around me within 2-5 minutes…Which is good for me to know. I have a cat (who by the way adores them and sits nose to nose with them daily but he is a cat and I don’t want them unsupervised together! ) and usually I can talk them into coming within range to be scooped up and placed back in the cage. Only once, with one of the babies, did I have a long and exhausting chase. The littler goober kept coming behind me and leaning against me with his back paws…Only to run away when I tried to catch him.

    Since having my goo’s for a little longer now…I have not had any escapes. It’s just good to know that the stronger the bond, the easier it will be to catch them.

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  60. Vikki
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    Mine got out and I can not get it back. I’ve only had them a short time and do not know to do as they won’t let me touch them. I’ve tried food I’ve tried moving it’s cage and brother to the room he is in and noting I just need it back. It’s been 4 hours now. What can I do?

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