Two white and brown degus sit nose to nose on the hands of two young students

Degu friends keep close bond

Four degu friends have found a fulfilling new home where they can stay and play together – and help inspire the next generation of animal carers.

Peach, Pearl, Opal and Locky have a new extended family since they were adopted by the animal care team at a special school in Bedfordshire.

Three degus stand side by side in the open entrance of their cage
The degu friends have a caring new home at The Chiltern School

The sociable pets can be heard chattering away in their specially-designed environment at The Chiltern School, which is packed with enrichment activities to keep them happy and healthy.

“The students helped design their environment so it’s really stimulating for the degus,” explains Cath Kerr, who leads land-based education at the school for young people aged up to 19 who have special educational needs.

“They have been so interested to learn more about degus, finding out facts like where in the world they come from, and the types of food they like.”

Two degus enjoy cleaning themselves in a sand bath
Sand bathing is among natural behaviours degus need to express to keep healthy

As degus are active and agile their accommodation has opportunities for them to carry out all their natural behaviours including running, jumping, climbing, digging, foraging, sand bathing and exploring.

Cath adds: “Peach, Pearl, Opal and Locky are doing really well and love being within earshot of the pupils as they interact with each other.”

The bonded female friends had spent more than two years enjoying life together at their previous home in the south west of England.

But sudden job loss and a home move meant their family were no longer able to keep their pets.

A white and brown degu nibbles on a treat as she sits in a pile of hay
The degus enjoy the occasional treat as part of a healthy diet including lots of hay

Spending 38 days being looked after in Blue Cross foster care arranged by our Newport rehoming unit in south Wales, the degus are among around 4,000 pets we help to find a new place to call home each year.

The team at the Chiltern School did extensive research before adopting the degus, which can live to around eight years, including making sure their home was large enough – Blue Cross recommends a small group of degus have a cage with at least 90cm x 60cm floor space and is 120cm tall.

A brown degu relaxes in a yellow, blue and green rope hammock
There's plenty of time to relax now the degus have a safe new home

Climbing platforms, rope nests and hideaway spots all provide enrichment for the degus, while their herbivorous diet includes plenty of hay and very occasional healthy treats like sunflower seeds.

This helps them avoid health problems like dental disease and diabetes, which they can be prone to.

A blond haired student with a clipboard carries out a visual health check on a group of degus in a cage
Daily health checks are an important part of caring for the degus

Cath continues: “Some pupils might just be watching the degus and observing how they interact with each other, while our post-16 pupils working towards recognised land-based learning certificates are involved with feeding, cleaning and grooming, as well as basic health checks.

“We were really pleased we could rehome pets from Blue Cross because it does so much to help animals and the experience is so enriching for us all.”

The degus are enjoying life in their new home, with a dedicated animal care cabin set up to make sure they feel comfortable and secure at all times, including during school holidays and weekends.

Two white and brown degus stare inquisitively into the camera
The degus get all the care and attention they need

Georgie Riley, centre manager at Blue Cross Newport, adds: “It is really positive the degus could be rehomed together as they were bonded and we didn’t want to split them.

“We are grateful that the school wanted to rehome all four degus and the enclosure that the school set up is really great.”

— Page last updated 18/03/2024