Degus are active during the day with a short 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.
Systematic : Octodon-degus, Octodontidae family, order Rodentia
Head-hull length: 12.5 to 19.5 cm
Degus belong to the order of rodents and are small, folivorous/herbivorous (plant-eating) 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 age. The body length is 12.5 to 19.5 cm and they reach a weight of about 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 from dense herbs and grasses. They also like to stay in stony soil layers with a loose soil. There they build widely branched trenches. They are also increasingly found in fields, gardens and parks. Degus mainly feed on plant foods.
Degus have their own nutritional needs.
Teeth of the Degu
There are two incisors in the upper and lower jaws, which, like the molars, continue to grow for life. 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 muscled and can therefore not independently transport the food to the next part of the intestine. The following food portions supposedly take over that task.
Appendix of Degus
The cecum is the so-called fermentation chamber. This is where the fine dietary fibers go that are converted into proteins, vitamin B complex and vitamin K by the special bacteria. From the cecum arise the cecum droppings that are absorbed back.
Diabetes & Degus
To prevent diabetes, you should not give fresh fruits and other sugar and starchy components. This is also important when choosing the feed. Degus should be fed a high crude fiber diet of at least 20% fiber and a starch content of no more than 6-7%.
Housing of Degus
Degus do not like to live alone. It is optimal to keep a community consisting of several females or a castrated male and several females. They become very confidential and are easy to tame if one is intensively involved with them.
Place 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 also always have shade available and the ambient temperature must not exceed 32°C. It is best to place the cage on an elevated spot so that the animals do not feel that 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 movement. Supervised free range encourages 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 provide them with this by providing the correct cage design. Several houses, seats at different heights, clay and cork pipes and climbing branches belong in every cage. In order to satisfy their pronounced urge to move, degus are very happy with a closed-tread running wheel with a minimum diameter of 33 cm. A sand bath with chinchilla sand to clean the fur should also not be missed. We also recommend providing food in stable clay or ceramic bowls and water in drinking bottles. Sufficient hay of good quality should be given daily 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 bedding 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 well 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 owner, and when it eats and drinks less. Weight loss and changed behavior in terms of dropping and urinating can also indicate a disease.
In addition, sick animals also often show reduced washing and grooming behaviour. This makes the coat rough. Indications of pain include a hunched back, hunched posture, wavy fur, half-closed eyes, and gnashing of teeth. If the degu shows any of these symptoms, the vet should definitely be consulted.