October 2000 - June 2008
October 2000 - June 2008
Cause of death: Old age.
Key: BS- breeding season; AB- antibiotics; HQ- high quality; LQ- low quality.
NICKNAME- Jezpez; Jezza
D.O.B (approx)- 01/10/2000
COAT TYPE- Medium
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES- End of tail missing
PERSONALITY- Gentle and caring
FAVOURITE FOOD- Alfalfa
FAVOURITE ACTIVITY- Sleeping and hoarding
BEST TRICK- Tugging on trousers to be picked up!
Jez, you were the first of our degus and the inspiration for Degutopia- how can we ever repay you? I will miss you always; You will be forever in my heart.
With a degu who's lived as much as Jezza, there's always a story to be told! Although we've sadly lost our little man, his memory will live on through the story of his life, and perhaps you will see how special this little degu was, too.
Jez we think was born sometime in 2000, but we've never been sure as to his exact age except that he was 2 or 3 years old when he came to me in 2002. I found out about him through a friend at university, who said she knew someone with a little rodent looking for a home; Jez's original owner had to give him up as she was expecting a baby and did not want to have to send him to the RSPCA (his brother had accidentally died recently and he was left all alone). Although at the time I had no idea what a degu was, I jumped at the chance to give him a great home where I could spend a lot of time with him, and spent a great deal of time trying to research degus before I went to pick him up. Back then, I was left feeling confused about all the misinformation and contradiction out there in books and on the internet about the species, and wondered "why has no-one got a good, referenced website about degus based on scientific research?". So you can guess what happened next- mostly involving me trawling through hundreds of journals, books and papers getting all the facts about degus in order to give Jez the best home I possibly could by making sure all his needs were met correctly. Anyway, the day arrived and I went with my friend to High Wycombe to collect Jezza and bring him home- it was love at first sight! Having been on his own for a while, and not having had a lot of attention, Jez was more than happy to lift his front leg up to let me tickle his tummy as soon as he had got to his new home. Right away I began spending all my spare time getting to know Jez and forming a strong bond with him by doing some training work; He was more of a 'house degu' spending most of his time out with me than inside his cage! The room I had was inside the loft of a shared house, and although I used to spend a lot of time working on the computer with him free to run around, he also really loved spending time down in the lounge with everyone. It really was like having a little dog- he would run up to talk to anyone who came to sit in the lounge, and would happily sleep on your knee for hours (lying on his back of course!). He even had his own cushion in front of the fire where he would curl up and sleep in the winter- hard to believe unless you saw it for yourself! We used to eat in the lounge and at dinner times Jez would relish the opportunity to be mischievous and steal a bit of pasta, broccoli or even a chip if you didn't keep your eye on him!! Once my friend had put a square of chocolate on her plate to have with her tea- she turned her back for a few seconds and when she turned round it had vanished- no surprises who had it! Luckily I managed to catch Jez before he tried to eat any of it (the sugar content could have killed him), although it had melted somewhat and I had to rinse his mouth under the tap- he was rather cross after having that taken away from him I can tell you! Out of term time, Jez used to travel back home to Leicester with me in the car- usually asleep in my sleeve (although this is not the recommended way to transport degus...!) rather than the travel cage. Again, he had free run of my room and only slept in his cage at night. In the morning he devised a rather cunning method of getting me out of bed at precisely 9am every morning (yes, well I *was* a student), by picking up the plastic tube in his cage by his teeth and banging it against the side until he got his breakfast. While I was at home, Jez had to be confined to my room as my cat, Rufus, used to have the run of the rest of the house. Rufus was a huge, placid ginger cat who wouldn't hurt a fly, but one day my Dad accidentally left the door to my room open (he didn't see Jez was out) and by the time I noticed, Jez had already gone downstairs to explore (typical!). I ran out of my room to find him and make sure Rufus wasn't about, and as I got to the stairs I saw quite possibly the funniest thing I've ever seen. Jez was actually chasing Rufus up the stairs- the cat was petrified of this small, noisy thing that could outrun him!! I will never forget that sight!!
After I finished my degree in 2003, I found I had some time on my hands to do something new. Having all this degu information to hand that I had painstakingly collected, and finding there was still not a reliable source for degu owners to get the info they needed, I decided to make my own ultimate degu website resource, and called it Degutopia (the rest, as they say, is history!). When I began working full-time in 2004 and the website had 'gone live', I was worried that Jezza would be getting lonely having to spend more time in his cage than normal, and less time with me, so I decided to look into getting him some friends. I had just got my own house, and had a whole room to devote to Jezza, so having been fully equipped with the degu knowledge and facts of life, and finding it near impossible to locate degus in the county, I decided to opt for some female degus and begin a breeding programme, with the intention of ironing out genetic problems through selective breeding. Soon Jez was getting to know three girls I had obtained from a breeder in Cambridgeshire, affectionately known as the Pezettas (after Jez, aka Jezpez; Naughty Natalie, Pepper and Nibble). Jez was very content to live next to the girls and talked to them all day while I was at work; However they were too young for him to breed with yet so he still couldn't have direct contact. Luckily, I soon discovered that two boys (Tez and Pip) and two girls (Lil and Pars) were looking for homes not too far away, so they came to join the Degutopia gang in 2005. Jez and Lilly hit it off right away, and not too long afterwards Diego, Jez's son, was born, and accompanied by Dreggen (son of Nib and Tez the same year) the two boys went in to live with Jezza permanently.
Over the years, Jez sired several litters with both Lilly and Parsley, and Poppy (Jez's daughter) also decided to stay on with mum and the other degus. In 2007 Jez became a grandfather when Poppy and Dreggen's litter arrived. Shortly afterwards, we had a bit of a shock when Jez managed to prolapse his penis, and although I was very worried about him I did not agree with the vet that he might have to be put down, as he still had a lot of fight in him and a love of life such that I had never seen before, even though I knew he was getting on for 8. I persevered with his treatment and sure enough he pulled through and was back on top Jez form. In early 2008, he gave us another scare when he had a small stroke; However again he pulled through and made a near full recovery with only a slight 'wonky' deficit that didn't seem to bother him at all. In May 2008 he finally began showing his age by having problems with weight loss, and as a result I ended up hand-feeding him daily to keep up his strength. Despite my best efforts, in June 2008 he took a sudden turn for the worst, and very sadly passed away in the afternoon of the 17th June.
Now you know the story of Jez's life, I hope you can see why he was such a special guy, how much he's responsible for and how much I will miss him.