What is it like to be a degu?
I have lived with four pet rats and four degus. I share my home currently with three female octodon degus; Iina, Shimsa, and Friday. While getting them food today, I was thinking about the funniest and the most mysterious things about them.
Their quicksilverly and very social nature is fun to observe. I think they have run around the world quite a few times by now in their running wheel. It looks hilarious if they all jam themselves into it at the same time. The range of sounds they can make is amazing. The way they sleep upon each other in one big breathing pile makes me smile. But when it comes to the most funniest things they have done, I remember particularly well how they once fiercely protested against playing Devo’s Big mess. It must have been due to the electronic sounds of the song. I think the girls like ambient in its various forms the best. If you are interested in some great degu video -and audio files, click here.
No matter how much I have observed degu behaviour and tried to understand it, much of it continues to be a mystery to me. Among the most fascinating areas in this is their vocal repertoire. I have learned to “talk” to them a bit and to understand their “talk” to me and to each other a bit, but that’s naturally all very rudimentary. One of the most mysterious cases I have witnessed about them deals with Belle’s, Iina’s sisters, death. I found one morning that Belle had passed away during the night. The vet thought it might have been due to a heart problem. Iina needed to spend some weeks alone before Shimsa and Friday became part of the family. For some reason Iina spent lots of that time on the same spot where Belle had died. It made me wonder the reason for this. What went in this degu’s cognition back then? I have guesses, but no answers. The most mysterious thing about my little friends is the way they experience existence. I have only a vague idea what is it like to be a degu.
I wish I could tell to my furry four-legged friends how much they contribute to my happiness on a daily basis. I have learned things from them and they continue to inspire my interest in animal consciousness (Finns out there might be interested in my Finnish study about Dr. Thomas Nagel’s classic essay What is it like to be a Bat?). It might be that in some non-verbal ways I have managed to communicate something about that wish to them in their terms.
What are the most funniest and mysterious things about your pets? Do you think it is possible to have an idea what is it like to be them?
We have much to learn from the beasts - Dracula