Aug 112012

Meet the Degu

Our Family has Expanded!

Yes, yes, don’t worry, I am talking pets, not humans.  But, it is still a pretty big deal.  Getting a pet here was no easy decision.  We all agree that we want to get a dog at the first possible opportunity.  But, our landlord told us we could not have one here.  And, honestly, we don’t entirely disagree.  Trying to make sure a dog got enough exercise and the chance to empty its bladder in a timely fashion while living in our tiny apartment seemed like a challenge we might not be up for at this stage of our German Development.  On the other hand, we really miss sharing our lives with other creatures.

SO, the next thought is, well are there pets that we could keep here?  A cat might be possible, but the room is small, and cats are stinky in small spaces.  Rats are wonderful, but short-lived.  And, of course, we are always concerned about what happens if we need to move (back to the States or elsewhere).  We don’t want a repeat of the last time when our pets were too old to safely travel with us.

And then there is the “hassle factor”.  That is what I am going to call the fact that everything here is still significantly more work than it was in the US.  Part of that is cultural (can’t just drive up and park outside most stores, for instance).  But, much of it has to do with the fact that even though we have learned a lot, we are still definitely Ausländer (foreigners).  We don’t know where to go to get supplies, what paperwork is necessary, whether you can board various animals (or where) or how to describe our issues to a Vet without looking up specific words.  Plus, there is always the fact that any animal that is well-cared for will have some monetary cost associated with their upkeep.  And, well, money isn’t a non-issue!

So, we have gone over a year without getting any small furry family members.  But, after much soul searching, debating, listing of Pros and Cons, and other intricate decision making procedures, we finally decided to Go For It.  We discovered a species that is not available in California, but is semi-common here.  It is called a degu.  They are also called the “brush-tailed rat”, though David thinks they are more like squirrels.  They are a highly social rodent originally from Chile.  They take dust baths like chinchillas, are trainable like dogs, are complete herbivores prone to diabetes (so no fruit or sweet snacks!), will hang out in a cage when you aren’t around, and, I must say, they are pretty darned cute.  Oh!  And they live 5-9 years in captivity.  So…. Sweet!


I walked past them the first couple times at the pet store because we were thinking we would probably go with a rabbit.  But, I noticed that they were easily the animal the most interested in us.  Every time we came by their cage they would run over and check us out.  We went back and explored various options several times (and at several stores).  But, in the end, the degus won out.  They are so social that they are sold as a bonded group.  We got three!

We can already tell that they have three distinct personalities.  One is the Go-getter.  She is fearless, outgoing and the leader of the group.  The second one is the Side-kick.  She hangs back a bit, but is largely game for most adventures.  And the third is the cautious one.  She is still hiding, I think.  Actually, when we first put them in their new cage, she sat at the top of the ramp and wouldn’t move.  About 10 minutes later one of her sisters ran up and sat on her until she went down the ramps into the more homey bottom level of the cage!  Social indeed.

We are still deciding on names.  And it will take us a while to figure out who is who by sight since they all have similar coloring.

The darkest one, I think is the scaredicat… still working on
IDing the others
Getting the cage here in our Golf was a challenge, but
we solved it by putting the seats down and traveling in
shifts.  DS and I stayed at the store while DD and David
brought the cage up

Then there was the challenge of building it.

Ta Dah!  (actually still needs wheels, oops!  need to
fix that in the morning)

Transferring.  Guess who was first out?

Watching our new friends.

Not Entirely an Herbivore Day

I know Meatless Monday didn’t catch on in the States, which is too bad.  In general, we would like to try to cut down our eating of animal products.  But, I admit, here it has been tougher than expected.  So, too, however, is getting meats that are not Pork or Chicken.  So, today we splurged and got Special meats!  I had a craving for red meat, so I got a steak.

Irish T-Bone

Wish I had a BBQ

And, David likes to be able to say he has tried exotic meats, so we got him this unexpected find:

Yes, it is Kangaroo!

Very lean, texture is like a fine-grained steak- flavor is more like lamb

DS surprisingly requested:

Salmon Caviar- lowest on the food chain today!

And even DD went Meaty with some:

Her only real favorite meat

To balance all that out, we even found, well, not exactly US-style corn…..

WHY?  When 1/2 the country is covered in
corn plants, why do they do this to the stuff
that is actually edible?

So, there you have it.  Sort of exciting things for us.  Probably just a bunch of boring pet pictures for you.  Sorry, about that :)  These guys are still pretty young and I expect them to get a bit cuter as they fluff out slightly into their adult shape and become more interactive with us.  And, hey, if we do ever head back to CA we will have some wild tales about landing in Oregon and strapping contraband squirrels to our socks to sneak them past the border patrol, or something… Looking forward to that… um…  Well, maybe we will cross that bridge when we come to it.  For now, we need to get to know our degu- and think up names!

One reason to rethink having a local
dog.  They have Radioactive Poo, y’all!

Upcoming adventures: Possible travel, School, and DD gets German Braces:

Step 1, lots of pictures,
inside and out

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