22 April 2007

Be Wary of Comforting a Degu

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Long story short, we ended up with two degus. I say "long story short" because it's always something - we see a wounded critter, someone tells us about a wounded critter, etc. But if this were a film, the action would start here, where I say it does. I'll give you a few lines of exposition for the past if you think it will help, but after that, you're on your own: We found a wounded degu at the petshop, rescued him before he could be "destroyed", went back to the shop to get his brother (because degus are very social and should never be alone), then brought them home, and put them in a lovely cage.

Within hours, they had eaten their way out of the cage.

So we got another cage.

Overnight, they'd eaten their way out of that.

So we got another cage, thinking this one was foolproof, but the "fools" turned out to be us, and once again they tunnelled out.

Here's a tip to you if you should ever get a couple of degus: Don't keep them in plastic bottomed cages. You might innocently think, like us, there's nowhere on this one they can get leverage for that first bite, but you will be wrong, my friend.

I found out they had escaped the latest cage when my cat Angelo was going crazy in the hallway. I soon saw that he was chasing Pepito and I interviened. I rescued Pepito, gave him a lecture, then locked him in the bathroom. Then I found Chico cowering on a bookshelf between a Noam Chomsky book and a thesaurus (good place to be), so I grabbed him. He was actually shaking in my hand. And, as you can see by the photo, Degu's are cute little fuckers. I was overwhelmed with the need to comfort him. I went to pet his little head as I said, there there little guy, it's OK, when KAPOW!

He bit the fuck out of me. Right between the thumb and forefinger in that muscle that they tell you to massage when you've got a migraine. And not just in the muscle, but right through the muscle. The guy had been sharpening his teeth on several cages and my hand was like nothing to him. Chico made his point, and I discovered exactly how loud a person can scream the word "Fuck". The pain was so intense that it was almost intellectually interesting. I found myself outside my own body with a labcoat and a clipboard saying, that really is significant.

I cleaned the wound, bandaged it, then proceeded to comfort myself with alcohol. I got so drunk that I fell asleep which was exactly the effect I wanted.

Then here's what happened: A few days later, which happens to be yesterday, everything started hurting. Not just the wound,but also my hand and then my whole arm. And here's what I learned folks: Apparently getting bit by a critter can infect everything. Even if that critter is really cute. And furthermore, apparently when you are bitten by a critter, you're supposed to go right to the doctor, especially when that bite causes enough bloodloss to thoroughly trash two towells, and apparently when you work with animals, as I have done for years, you're supposed to know all this stuff and you're supposed to be current on your tetanus vaccinations. I have been apprised of this fact on numerous occasions in numerous animal sanctuaries in numerous languages, but have always brushed off their medical advice with yeah, yeah, I had a tetanus vaccination; and yeppers, I did. In 1985. that's what happens as you get older. All the years sort of meld into one, and next thing you know, you're in Belgian hospital having needles jabbed into you.

Here's what else happens as you get older: You start talking constantly about your physical ailments, even blogging about them. Sorry.

And here's the thing: Chico isn't even apologetic. Little fucker.