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 make 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 the 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 a pet, they also want a partner by their side. They have a life expectancy of about 5 to 7 years, but can also age. The body length is 12.5 to 19.5 cm and they reach a weight of about 170 to 350 g.
Degus are the most common rodents in Chile. There they mainly inhabit the central and northern areas with low shrubs and good hiding places from dense herbs and grasses. They also like to stay in stony ground layers with a loose soil. There they build wide-branched trenches. They are also increasingly found in fields, gardens and parks. Degus mainly feed on vegetable food.
Degus have their own nutritional needs.
Teeth of the Degu
There are two incisors in the upper and lower jaw, which, like the molars, continue to grow for a lifetime. A raw fiber structure in the diet is therefore absolutely necessary for the health of the teeth.
Stomach of the Degu
The stomach is a so-called full stomach. It is only moderately muscular and therefore cannot independently transport the knitted food to the next part of the intestine. The following nutritional portions supposedly take over that task.
The cecum is the so-called yeast chamber. The fine dietary fibers that are converted into proteins, vitamin B complex and vitamin K by the special bacteria go there. The cecum keys are recovered from the cecum.
Diabetes & Degus
To avoid diabetes, you should not give fresh fruit, nor any other sugar and starchy components. This is also important when choosing the food. Degus should be fed a high fiber diet of at least 20% fiber and a starch content of no more than 6-7%.
Degus don't like to live alone. It is optimal to maintain a community consisting of several females or a castrated male and several females. They become very confidential and are easy to tame if one deals with them intensively.
Place of Degu residence
The cage location must be draft-free. Since degus like to bathe in the sun, direct sunlight in the morning and evening is very pleasant for them. However, they must also always have shade available and the ambient temperature must not exceed 32 ° C. It is best to place the cage in a raised place so that the animals do not feel that they are prey.
Size of the Degu Cage
When keeping up to 4 degus of the same sex, a minimum size of 100 x 50 x 100 cm (W x D x H) is recommended. A larger, more structured cage allows for more movement. Extra free range under supervision promotes their natural behavior, such as exploring and playing.
Organization of the Degu residence
The raised animals need a lot of activities and exercise. You can offer this to them by properly arranging the cage. Multiple houses, seating areas at different heights, clay and cork tubes and climbing branches belong in every cage. In order to satisfy their pronounced urge to move, degus are very happy with a running wheel with a closed tread and a minimum diameter of 30 cm. A sand bath with chinchilla sand to clean the coat should 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 in a coverable hay rack.
Ground cover for Degus
The litter must be well absorbent and odor-binding. A thick layer of litter makes it possible to build corridors. It is important to change the litter regularly (it is best to clean the urine corners daily). Bedding types made of linen or straw, such as cozy bedding or Bed O´Linum, are particularly well suited for this.
How do I actually see that my Degu is sick and is not feeling well?
It is important to monitor the animal well every day. Only someone who knows the animal well will notice, for example, when it behaves differently, turns away from the group or the owner or isolates it and if it eats and drinks less. Weight loss and changes in feces and urination can also indicate a disease.
In addition, sick animals often also show reduced washing and care behavior. This makes the coat rough. Indications of pain include a curved back, a crouched posture, a wavy coat, half-closed eyes, and gnashing of teeth. If the degu shows any of these symptoms, the vet should definitely be consulted.