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!
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!