When it comes to smaller pets, there’s tremendous diversity within the rodent kingdom. If you’re looking for a little furry friend, you’re likely already familiar with rats, mice, hamsters and even chinchillas.
But you may be less aware of the distinctive looking, and highly personable rodents known as Degus. Here we provide an overview on why a Degu might be a great fit for your family as well as how to care and provide for them.
What is a Degu?
A Degu is a relatively large rodent originating from South America. They’re in the same family as guinea pigs and chinchillas, although recent studies suggest that they may also be closely related to rabbits.
They are highly sociable animals and love spending time with humans, as well as their own kind. In the wild they can live in groups of up to 100. Unlike many other rodents, they are diurnal, meaning that they’re active during the day.
You can tell a Degu by its dark brown body, cream coloured belly and white feet. They grow to about 15cm in length as adults, with a long tail of about the same length as their bodies.
Keeping a Degu
As with guinea pigs, Degus are highly sociable, and as such it’s important to keep them with other Degus. Even if you spend a lot of time with them at home. As much as Degus enjoy quality time with their humans, there’s no substitute for interaction with their own kind.
It’s also important to keep them in same-sex groups. We would advise against keeping male groups near females as this may make them fight among themselves.
Degus like to stay cool and are consummate burrowers— needing lots of exercise to stay healthy, happy and stimulated. As such, you should always ensure that they are below 20°c, and keep them in a cage with lots of levels and ramps to allow them to climb and play.
The floor of their cage should be solid and have lots of materials within which they can burrow such as bark chips, peat and dust-extracted bedding.
As well as appropriate bedding, a Degu cage should also be equipped with;
- Tree branches (they love to nibble on ash, pack, beech, pear & apple trees)
- An exercise wheel (at least 25cm in diameter)
- A sand bath / digging box
- Clay piping for tunnelling
- Toys and treats to keep them busy and stimulated
Feeding a Degu
Degus have a very selective diet. Because they can’t process sugars and starchy carbohydrates, they need a very balanced diet. A combination of guinea pig and chinchilla tablets can give the right nutritional mix for Degus, while leafy veggies skinless sweet potatoes and dandelions can be used to add extra enrichment.
Average Degu lifespan: How long do Degus live?
Degus tend to love between 6 and 9 years, so they’re definitely a long-term commitment.
We’re on hand for all your pet Degu’s needs
Thinking of getting a Degu for your family? Want to make sure you’re looking after a Degu you already have. From cages to food to toys and treats, you can trust us at Time For Paws to supply everything you need to give your pet Degu a happy, healthy life!