Degus are active during the day with a small lunch break. The degu is found in the wild in a strip that runs from the west coast to the slopes of the Andes Mountains in Chile. The animals create long corridors in which they hide their food, among other things.
Systematics : Octodon-degus, Octodontidae family, order Rodentia
Head-body length: 12.5 to 19.5 cm
Degus belong to the order of rodents and are small, folivorous/herbivorous (herbivorous) mammals. They are active during the day, very social and live in nature in large colonies of different family groups consisting of about 10 animals. As pets, they also want a partner by their side. They have a life expectancy of about 5 to 7 years, but can also live longer. The body length is 12.5 to 19.5 cm and they reach a weight of approximately 170 to 350 grams.
Degus are the most common rodents in Chile. There they mainly inhabit the central and northern areas with low shrubs and good hiding places in dense herbs and grasses. They also like to stay in stony soil layers with a loose bottom. There they build widely branched excavations. They are also increasingly found in fields, gardens and parks. Degus feed mainly on plant foods.
Degus have their own nutritional needs.
Teeth of the Degu
There are two incisors in the upper and lower jaws, which, just like the molars, continue to grow for life. A rough fiber structure in the diet is therefore absolutely necessary for dental health.
Stomach of the Degu
The stomach is a so-called full stomach. It is only moderately muscular and therefore cannot independently transport the food to the next part of the intestine. The following nutritional portions take over that task, so to speak.
Appendix of Degus
The cecum is the so-called fermentation chamber. The fine dietary fibers go there, which are converted into proteins, vitamin B complex and vitamin K by the special bacteria. The appendix originates from the appendix and is reabsorbed.
Diabetes & Degus
To prevent diabetes, you should not give fresh fruit or other sugary and starchy components. This is also important when choosing food. Degus should be fed a high crude fiber diet of at least 20% fiber and a starch content of no more than 6-7%.
Degus do not like to live alone. It is optimal to keep a community consisting of several females or a casted male and several females. They become very confidential and are easy to tame if one deals with them intensively.
Location of the Degu residence
The location of the cage must be draught-free. Since degus like to bathe in the sun, direct sunlight in the morning and evening is very pleasant for them. However, they must always have shade available and the ambient temperature must not exceed 32°C. It is best to place the cage in an elevated place so that the animals do not feel like they are prey.
Size of the Degu Cage
When keeping up to 5 degus of the same sex, a minimum size of 130 x 60 x 100 cm (W x D x H) is recommended. A larger, more structured cage allows for more exercise. Extra free range under supervision promotes their natural behavior, such as exploring and playing.
Furnishing of the Degu residence
The cheerful animals need a lot of activities and exercise. You can offer this to them by properly furnishing the cage. Multiple houses, seats at different heights, clay and cork tubes and climbing branches belong in every cage. To satisfy their pronounced need for exercise, degus are very happy with a running wheel with a closed tread and a minimum diameter of 33 cm. A sand bath with chinchilla sand to clean the coat should also not be missed. We also recommend providing food in stable clay or ceramic bowls and water in drinking bottles. You should provide sufficient hay of good quality every day in a covered hay rack.
Ground cover for Degus
The litter must be highly absorbent and odor-binding. A thick layer of litter makes it possible to build corridors. It is important to replace the litter regularly (it is best to clean the urine corners daily).
How can I tell that my Degu is sick and not feeling well?
It is important to check the animal carefully every day. Only someone who knows the animal well will notice, for example, when it behaves differently, turns away or isolates itself from the group or the owner and when it eats and drinks less. Weight loss and changed behavior in terms of defecation and urination can also indicate a disease.
In addition, sick animals often show reduced washing and grooming behavior. This causes the coat to become rough. Indications of pain include a hunched back, a crouched posture, a ruffled coat, half-closed eyes and grinding of teeth. If the degu shows any of these symptoms, the vet should definitely be consulted.