Caring for your New Degu
Info
from Aqualand Pets Plus on Octodon degu

 

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Watersprite

Different Watersprite

Degu Factoids

Origin

West coast mountainous areas of Chile

Size

Like a fat rat with a short, hairy tail

Foods

Chinchilla food plus timothy or alfalfa.  Likes treats.

Cage

2 cubic feet per critter.  Add a guinea pig wheel.

Cleaning Schedule

Weekly cleaning sufficient

Special Need

Regular dust baths

Security

Likes a hiding place – wooden box

Tails

Careful.  You can pull off their tails easily

Great Chewers

Likes chew toys plus a chinchilla “chew rock”

Attitude

Very social.  Great jumpers.  Males argue.

Longevity

5 to 8 years in captivity – 15 years in the wild

Hand Trainable

Use treats (peanuts and raisins) to tame them

Sex Differences

Anus and urethra closer on females

Sexual Maturity

About six months

Gestation Period

90 days

Litter size

1 to 9.  Averages 5.

Last Word

No sugary foods – causes diabetes and blindness


LA
Degus resemble a chinchilla -- except in price.


LA
Young degus fit in your hand.  They hold on pretty good.

Origin.  These burrow dwellers live in the mountainous areas of Chile.  It has taken a long time for them to enter the pet market.  Think of them as a poor man’s chinchilla – just not quite as soft and fluffy (or expensive).

LA
Little guys all get along fine.  They snooze a lot unless you wake them.

Housing.  Degus love to climb and jump.  They need almost as much room as a chinchilla.  Give them a cage large enough to house a large exercise wheel.  They also like hide boxes.  They will chew on wood houses.  Use the guinea pig size wood house.  

LA
When not gnawing, degus like to snooze.

Great Chewers.  These guys will even whittle down a pumice stone.  They like wood items to chew on – especially twigs with bark on them.  By the way, the males like to accumulate these toys as a sign of “degu wealth.”

 

LA
If they haven't had pet blocks for awhile, degus go nuts for them.

LA  
Better put in enough blocks so each degu can have his own or they will argue over the blocks.

LA
Feed your degus mostly chinchilla food.  Degus also love timothy and alfalfa.

LA
Guy on left samplingb the timothy hay.

LA
Chowing at the timothy buffet.

Nutrition.  In their sparse mountains, degus eat grasses, seeds, and bark.  In captivity, they need chinchilla food.  They like pet blocks and various types of hay.  Limit their seed intake.  They get fat on seeds and nuts.

Fruit Treats.  Degus love raisins (and other dried fruits) as well as peanuts (and other nuts).  They very daintily hold them in their “fingers” as they eat them.  Severely limit these treat foods.  They cannot digest sugar.  It gives them diabetes and causes blindness. 

Nut Treats.  Too many nuts and seeds – especially sunflower seeds -- will make degus fat.  This means none of those honey “treat sticks” that hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, and guinea pigs love. However, hard unshelled nuts make great chew toys with a built in treat.

LA
Young degus seeing a dust bath for the first time.  Checking it out.

LA
One brave degu sticks in his toe to "test the water."

LA
C'mon in, the water's fine.

LA
Everybody into the pool.  Last one in's a rotten degu.

LA
Older degus just dive right in.  They love their dust baths.

LA
Not as many of the large guys fit in the bath.  The degu on the right is rolling upside down.

LA
They think they're little chinchillas.

Volcanic Dust.  Degus bathe by diving into and rolling around in a dust bath   -- exactly like chinchillas.  Put their bath tub in their cage at least twice a week.  If you leave it in there all the time, they use it as a litter box.

LA
Pick up your degu gently.

Adult Size.  Degus resemble a very large gerbil, about as big as a plump, female rat.  Their hairy tail grows about half the length of their body.  When running, they always lift their tail to limit wear and tear.  Tail note:  If you lift them by their tail, it can snap right off.  They weigh more than gerbils. 

LA
Degus get along with each other.  

Water.  Provide water in an unchewable water bottle.  Degus quickly gnaw holes in regular water bottles.  They kick lots of litter into water dishes.  

LA
Adult degus.

LA
Young degus.



Breeding.  Male degus carry their testicles inside their body, so these guys are hard to sex -- especially young degus.  And, since not all males and females get along together, you may not even be able to coax yours into breeding at all.  Momma degus carry their young for 90 days, so you won’t see these critters stacking up like hamsters and gerbils.  Keep the kids with momma degu for their first month.

LA
Kids like degus.

Last Word.  Once you hand-tame these cute, little varmints, they really love social interaction with you – but easy on those treats.

Outtakes:

LA

LA

LA

LA
Little timothy treat.

LA

LA

LA
8 locally raised fresh degus just in the door.

LA
Friendly little dudes,

LA
Pick them up fom the bottom.

LA
Photogenic little scamps.

LA
Not at all shy.

LA
Here's how they argue -- like high school wrestlers.

LA
They'll use a rat-sized exercise wheel.

LA

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