DeguPets.com is dedicated to the health and well being of Degus all over the world, providing information on their history, requirements, health, how to care for your pets and lots more!
- 1 Introduction to Degus
- 2 Origins
- 3 Physical Features
- 4 Behaviour
- 5 Male vs Females
- 6 Do Degus Make Good Pets?
- 7 How Much do Degus Cost?
- 8 Living Environment
- 9 Housing
- 10 Cleaning and Grooming:
- 11 Feeding
- 12 Training
- 13 Health Check
- 14 Handling
- 15 Breeding
- 16 Diseases
- 17 Where are Degus legal?
- 18 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
- 19 Further Tips
- 20 Resources & References
Introduction to Degus
The Degu is a curious playful critter, relatively new to the pet scene. If handled from a very young age, they make wonderful and gentle domestic pets.
Degus are very social curious animals that thrive on both human interaction and interaction with other Degus. If trained to human contact from infancy, Degus become both gentle and receptive to their owners and other Degus. It is best if they are kept in pairs or groups as the Degu does not do well on its own. When choosing to house them in groups they may be best in groups with only one male or males from the same litter. This is because two males from different litters may fight with each other. With other Degus around, they become more playful, social, and vocal. Degus are known to make a variety of quiet whistling, chatty sounds, as though they are speaking just a bit too soft to be heard. On their own, Degus can become hostile and aggressive and they are more susceptible to disease and depression. However, if you prefer to keep only one Degu, be sure to give them plenty of love and attention daily, which can keep your Degu from becoming aggressive and lonely. Most homes are okay for Degus, but a few precautions need to be taken.
Common Name: Degu
Other Common Names: none listed
Scientific Name: Octodon degus (Full Taxonomy)
Origin or Range: Chile
Relative Size: Average (as compared to other rodents)
Average Lifespan: 10 year(s)
The Degu should be kept out of direct sunlight otherwise they may end up suffering from a number of heat related illnesses. They require a large cage so they have plenty of room to play in. A glass aquarium is best, but a wire mesh cage will work. Degus will chew through plastic cages, so one should avoid cages with any plastic on them. Avoid picking up the Degu by its back, as this may surprise them and cause them to attack. Once accustomed to humans, they will often come to your outstretched hand for some time outside the cage. Never lift or grab your Degu by its tail. It will break off, hurting the animal. The area will heal, but the tail will not grow back. Degus aren’t usually aggressive to one another, but if they are, they should either be kept separately within one cage, or in separate cages. Also note, the Degu has a fearless curiosity. When outside their cage, they need to be watched carefully. The Degu has a good memory and can remember people who have mistreated them – so always play nice. In the wild, a Degu may live up to 15 years old, but as a house pet, they don’t usually make it past 10 years of age. It should be noted that some Degus may become jealous when a new pet is introduced into the house. It is important not to neglect them during this time.
The Degu originally came from the lowlands and coasts of Chile in South America. There, they are considered pests by farmers and others involved in agriculture. They were originally exported in the 1950s to the US and Canada. In the wild they tend to live in large family units of 10 or more Degus (which goes a long way to explain their very social nature) in underground tunnels and holes.
The Degu is quite a small rodent typically measuring about six inches long, with another six inches of tail decorated with a fluff of fur at the end. Most commonly, Degus have brown coloured fur on top, with lighter gray-white fur on their stomachs, legs and feet. There is some speculation that with selective breeding, white and black Degus will soon make their way onto the pet scene. They have a body similar to the Gerbil’s, but their facial features more resemble a Squirrel’s or a Chinchilla’s. Perhaps one of the most interesting physical features of the Degu is its teeth, which are bright orange. Bright orange teeth are signs of good health for the Degu. Conversely, if the Degus teeth have turned white, it means that it will soon die. Another interesting titbit of information is that there is some speculation now that the Degu is actually more closely related to the Rabbit family than the Rodent family.
Degu’s fur is naturally a tweed colour which becomes lighter towards the under-belly, although thanks to genetic manipulations and cross-breeding, they can be found in black, blue (metallic bluey-black), tan and white. Colour varieties in higher demand and more common in mainland Europe in countries such as Germany, and it is not yet known the health implications of this genetic engineering. The hair is short and soft.
Some Degus may have white flanks, the area between the ribs and hips, which is believed to be a sign of infertility, although we could not find any research confirming this. Degu’s fur can not become wet as it may be become brittle and damaged, other than their water bottle nozzle there should be no sources of water near to them.
To help keep their fur dry and to clean them as water is not a option, they should be given access to a sand bath for around 30 minutes every day. Leaving the sand bath too long or giving one too often could also damage the fur.
Degus can sometimes shed their fur once or twice a year, in keeping with the seasons (longer fur in winter, shorter in summer).
This happens roughly between March and July in the United Kingdom, although this fur shedding has not been experienced by all Degu owners, as compared to the harsh temperatures in their natural desert environment the British seasons (especially considering your pet will be living indoors not underground) are not as drastic and so the need to shed fur may not be needed. Another reason for the observed differences in fur shedding could be evolution and adapting to the constant climate in housing, as over an average person’s lifetime a single Degu could be the cause of 50-60 generations of Degus.
Degu’s have dark, big eyes, which are surrounded by a lighter area of fur. Degus eyes are placed at the sides of the head, helping them be more alert to predators in the wild and dangers in a domestic environment by expanding the field of vision, while still providing a perfect forward view for regular navigation. The eyes are inconsistent with rodents of the same habits i.e. burrowing, who normally have small eyes to avoid damage. The eyes can be subject to illness such as cataracts.
The Degus ears are of moderate size, around 3 cm in height, dark with little hair, apart from long strands of hair protecting the ear canal. The ears can get grubby very easily, and as they can not groom them themselves, are kept clean by other Degus in the habitat. Without this attention they can become very poorly, as it is very dangerous for humans to clean due to the thinness of the skin. They are shaped to gain as much aural information as possible, and stick up whenever the Degu hears a sound they feel to be threatening.
Mouth and Teeth
A Degu’s Teeth had a distinctive figure 8 pattern, similar to that of Chinchillas and Guinea Pigs which is why it is classified in the Octodon species. A Degu’s front teeth should be a yellow – orange colour. which is believed to be but not verified as being due to the chlorophyll in the greens they eat. White teeth can normally indicate a serious disease and a poor diet. The teeth are constantly growing, causing Degu’s to gnaw on everything and anything, so suitable toys and blocks should be provided. All together Degus have a total of 20 teeth, used for chewing, biting and gnawing.
Paws and Feet
A Degu’s feet has 5 toes on each paw, front and back, with rear claws curved and covered in brush-like bristles. One of the toes on each paw is shorter than the others and used in the same manner as a human thumb. If a Degu spends too much time on a mesh wire floor the feet can develop a problem called bumble foot which is very painful, so ledges and flat areas must be provided in your Degu’s cage. There are small lumps on the palm of the paws that are used for gripping items such as food when eating. A Degus paws and other features are not consistent with other burrowing animals.
Degus have a tail which grows to around 9cm in length, is scaly to the touch and has a small bushy tip. As a defence mechanism in the wild, the Degu will shed part of its tail, up to half of the tail, as a way of evading capture when a predator has hold of it. For this reason a Degu should never be handled by the tail, and is better off not being touched at all, as it can be extremely painful, causing a lot of bleeding and distress. This can become infected and will never grow back. If this occurs, usually the Degu will chew and stop the bleeding itself, but a vet visit is always essential. The tail is primarily used for balance when jumping and climbing, and regulating the body temperature by providing an area for heat to escape or be retained.
Nose and Whiskers
A Degu’s whiskers, like all other animals, are used for exploration when judging gaps and spaces to determine if it can fit through. Whiskers are very sensitive and should not be played with. The area of the brain used in scent detection is well developed providing a good sense of scent. The nose is hairless, with females believed to have a better sense of smell than the males due to testosterone having an effect of the strength of smell, although this has not been completely verified at the time of writing.
Degus are very social and therefore should not be housed alone. A single degu often becomes depressed and aggressive. Degus housed alone are usually unhealthy and live shorter lives.
Degus are energetic, athletic, and love to run and play. They enjoy climbing and jumping and need lots of degu toys to keep them busy. They also need something to chew on (such as flavored wooden chews seen in pet stores) because their teeth grow constantly throughout their lives and they must keep them worn down.
Degus communicate both vocally and through body language. Here is a list of things your degu might do and what they mean:
Hair-raising – The degu is alarmed and feels threatened. Usually this is only a behavior that new degus show.
Tail wagging – Alert or aroused. You see this behavior in mating.
Tail rump display – A defensive or submissive posture when facing an aggressive rival. Also used in courtship.
Hops, jumping, running, and body twisting – Playful behaviors indicating a happy degu, especially in young degus.
Grooming each other – Degus groom each other as a friendly gesture. It means the degus like each other. Sometimes your degu may even try to groom you!
Huddling and snuggling – Degus that are bonded with huddle together. It gives them a sense of security. You’ll often find that in groups all the degus will sleep together in one huge pile.
Dust bathing – Degus take dust baths to stay clean as well as to stay socially acceptable by having the same scent as the other degus.
Scent marking – Degus do this to mark territory.
“Boxing”, Shoving – This means the degus are “arguing”. Although it’s an aggressive behavior you shouldn’t worry too much unless you see bloodshed.
Tooth chatter – The degu is uneasy or annoyed.
Squeaks – A nervous behavior… may also be used if annoyed. Also, if a degu becomes frightened they might start squeaking for several minutes. It may also be used if another degu grooms them too roughly.
Growl – An aggressive behavior, the degu feels threatened.
Squeal – The degu is in pain or extremely upset.
Chirping – How degus communicate with each other. Also used during courtship.
Chuckle – A call to young and may be used during grooming.
“Chuck-Wee” – A greeting call. Your degu may greet you using this call.
Clucking – Social call used by young degus. Also used when young degus are being groomed.
Gurgle – How a baby degu communicates to its parents and litter mates.
Whimpers – Social call and a way for degus to keep track of everyone by whimpering back and forth.
Isolation cry – A call young degus will use when separated from their litter mates.
Post-copulatory squeaks – After breeding, male degus will make a squeaking sound similar to a warning squeak repeatedly for about 5-15 minutes.
Male vs Females
Degus can have different personalities depending on their gender. Females are normally bigger than males, where as males will fight more often when kept together. In order to determine your Degus gender you need to turn it over to see the reproductive organs. This is a difficult task in itself, so a slightly easier way we suggest for the not most tamed of Degus would be to use teasing with a treat to make your Degu stand up against the cage bars for a slightly better view.
Do not be fooled by the cone sticking out where the genitals would normally be, this is only used for urination and not reproduction, a Degu keeps its penis withdrawn and you will only see during grooming or reproduction.
The difference between a male and a female is hard to see. The Degu at the top is male and the Degu below the female. When looking at both sexes there is a conical appendage sticking out, this is not a penis, but where the Degu urinates. In males, they are around cm apart (top picture), where as in females this is much closer at only around mm apart (the bottom picture).
Do Degus Make Good Pets?
Degus are great pets! They have many positives and attributes as pets – above all, Degus have very fun and bubbly personalities and are lovely pets to have. Unlike Chinchilla and Hamsters, Degus as pets are mainly active during the day increasing their value as domesticated pets even further.
- Huge personalities- Naughty, Cute, Clever, Playful and Cheeky!
- Easy to Keep
- Diurnal (Awake in the day time)
- Simple Diets
- Love of Human Company
How Much do Degus Cost?
In the USA degus are typically around $20 for a shelter / Adoption center. Pet stores sell their Degus between 80 and 100.
Degus are happiest when living in temperatures below 20°C. Anything warmer can give them heatstroke and make them distressed. They are quite hardy to cold weather and the damp, but they
certainly don’t like it. Degus are intelligent animals and as such need constant stimulation of their minds to keep them healthy and happy. Their cage should contain a variety of toys and games for them to play with. Apple, pear, ash, oak and beech tree branches are great for furnishing their cage with climbing apparatus and helps simulate their conditions in the wild. Like hamsters, degus love a good run and as such they should be provided a wheel. The wheel should be about 25cm in diameter and
A solid exercise wheel, 25cm in diameter, should be provided to help them exercise. Clay piping can also provide a tunnelling system for them which is lots of fun and offers great enrichment. A good alternative to a wheel is a ‘flying saucer’. Degus need to take a sand bath to keep themselves healthy and clean. Pet owners can provide this by providing them with some chinchilla dust/sand in a pot big enough for them to roll around in. They especially love to take a sand bath after they’ve been handled as they feel the need to get rid of the oils and grease from human hands off their fur. Degus love digging so providing them with ample organic soil or sand will surely go down a treat with them. Treat balls are awesome for Degus and will keep them occupied for hours! Toys, like corn toys, sisal and jingly balls are also fun for them to play with.
A cage is better than a tank for a degu because it allows air to circulate better and degus love to climb around on the bars. A multi-level cage is best. If you must use an aquarium, then make sure it is very large (at least 29 gallons) and make sure there are plenty of toys and things to climb on. Be sure to use a secure screened lid because degus can jump very high and are escape artists.
The cage should have many toys to keep the degus busy (such as bird toys, cardboard tubes, branches, flavored chews, and bird ladders). They also need something to keep their teeth worn down—wooden blocks seen in pet stores work well. Pumice stones are also good for keeping their teeth worn down and they are supposed to help keep the nails short, too. Degus love to play and need plenty of room to jump, climb, and run. You should have two food dishes (degus often fight over food) and the dishes should be ceramic or made of some other chew-proof material.
You will also need a water bottle (either a glass one or one that hangs from the outside of the cage… they will chew through plastic ones), a nest box (the large wooden ones work well), a running wheel (not a plastic one because they will chew it up… however, don’t get one with spaces between wires or their tail might get caught), and nesting material (shredded napkins and paper can be used for this purpose). Not all degus will nest but I feel it’s good to offer it to a new degu just in case.
For bedding/litter you can use Aspen shavings or paper-based bedding. Just be sure not to use Pine or Cedar wood chips because these have been known to cause respiratory problems. They should also have plenty of timothy hay to munch on (NOT alfalfa as it has too much calcium). You can use a hayrack to hold the hay but it’s perfectly fine to put it on the floor of the cage (though you’ll have to change it more often).
Cleaning and Grooming:
A cage with a pair of degus must be cleaned out once a week. If your degus are messy then you may have to do it more then that. Once a month you should also scrub the cage and wash the dishes and toys. If you litter train your degus then you should clean out the litterbox at least every other day and change the bedding once a month.
Remember to change the water every other day and clean the water bottle daily as degus are prone to mouth diseases.
Degus groom themselves but you will still need to give them dust baths. You can buy special Chinchilla Dust at the petstore. Pour some of the dust into a container and place the ‘bath’ into the cage. Your degus will take a bath instinctively. Don’t leave it in longer then ten minutes unless you don’t mind your degus using it as a toilet. They need a dust bath at LEAST once a week, though they can have one every day. Dust baths are essential to keep a degu’s fur healthy. Some people leave the dust in constantly and change the dust every day. Because the degus will use it like a litter box, it makes the cage easier to clean.
Some degus will need their nails clipped occasionally; your vet can show you how to do this. You can use nail clippers used for dogs or cats. Just clip the very tip of the nail so that you don’t risk clipping the quick. Degus who don’t have anything to gnaw on may also need their teeth clipped by a vet.
If available, you can feed a food made just for degus. Be wary, though, and check the ingredients. If it contains sunflower seeds, corn, and/or sugar I wouldn’t buy it. There are two good degu foods available in the United States… Brisky’s Diet and Sun Seed Sunscription Vita Degu Formula. The latter is pretty new and can be hard to find but is by far the best food on the market right now. If you can’t get a degu food where you live you can feed guinea pig pellets (many people mix in some chinchilla pellets for variety). Make sure that the foods don’t have sugar, too much fat, fruit, or molasses. I used to feed a mix of “Hagen” guinea pig pellets and “Charlie’s” chinchilla mix (but I picked out the raisins and corn… I used the corn as a treat and fed the raisins to my rabbits). When selecting a food try to aim for a timothy-based one instead of one containing lots of alfalfa. Lactating females should have free choice of food.
Also, you must feed fresh vegetables daily. Don’t feed too many that are high in calcium (this includes collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, spinach, turnip greens, and alfalfa grass). Good veggies to feed are broccoli (not too much), romaine lettuce, celery, parsley, carrot greens, escarole, zucchini, chicory, and cucumbers. You can also include carrots and sweet potatoes (cooked only and don’t feed the skin) in the diet but don’t feed them more than once or twice a week… they are a good hand-fed treat. Although some people will say to feed fruits, I personally don’t because of the sugar content. Better to be safe then sorry.
As treats, you can feed sunflower seeds, corn, walnuts (don’t feed these first three treats too often as they contain a lot of fat), dried carrot slices, and sugar-free cereals. You should never feed your degu sugary or fatty foods, caffeine, chocolate, or alcohol.
Also remember to always provide your degu with fresh water and unlimited timothy hay.
Here is a list of fresh vegetables safe to feed Degus in moderation.
- Fresh herbs (coriander, chives, oregano, mint, parsley, basil)
- Carrot tops
- Green beans
- Fresh grass
- Dandelion leaves
- Brussels sprouts
You cannot train a degu like you would a dog or a cat but they can learn to be litter trained, ride on your shoulder, and recognize their name.
Teaching a degu it’s name: Teaching a degu its name is simple. Whenever addressing your degu be sure to use the given name (avoid using a lot of nicknames). When you call it and it comes over, praise it and maybe give it a small treat. It will come when called in no time.
Litter Training: A lot of people leave in a dust bath constantly for the degus and they use it as a litterbox. You can also buy litter boxes made for small animals and place them in the area your degu goes to the bathroom (they usually pick a corner). I would put hay in the litter boxes to attract them and praise your degu when it eliminates in the right place. Any stray droppings should be placed in the litterbox. Your degu should catch on eventually though keep in mind some degus will never be housebroken.
Teaching a degu to ride on your shoulder: This is a harder lesson to teach and many degus will never learn it. When your degu trusts you enough to climb on your hand, lure it up your arm with a treat. Once it will walk up your arm, lead it to your shoulder and give it the treat. While it’s eating the treat, praise and pet it (if your degu likes being pet). If the degu snatches the treat and runs off then you’re going to have to hold the treat while it eats. Do this several times over the next week. When the degu starts to get off your shoulder, gently place it back on your shoulder and when it sits still, give it a treat. Many degus will catch on and quickly climb up to your shoulder. Remember to praise it and give it treats when it sits still. Next, get used to the degu performing this trick while you’re walking and soon your degu will enjoy riding atop your shoulder. Keep in mind that you should still only do this in a degu-proof room because a degu may fall or suddenly jump off.
You should regularly check the health of your pet degus every few days. Degus should have yellow teeth. White teeth are a sign of vitamin A Deficiency. They should have nice clear and bright eyes and ears with glossy looking brown fur. Their rear ends should be clean with no signs of poop. If degus don’t have enough to chew on they may develop overgrown teeth. Wetness around the mouth could indicate this. Discharge and difficulty in breathing could indicate a respiratory problem.
A tame degu can be scooped up into your hands. Be sure to keep your cupped slightly so the degu doesn’t jump off. For more skittish degus you can use a jar to transfer your degu. You can lure it in with treats or some chinchilla bath dust (I sprinkle some in and they can’t resist!) or push it in gently. Just remember not to grab a degu by the tail because the tail can come off and not only will the degu be in much pain but the tail will NOT grow back.
Never handle your pets roughly or against its will. It may end up biting or scratching and you will probably break its trust. They are very smart and have excellent memories and will remember bad handling.
I’ve found that degus don’t like feeling restraining and I don’t think it’s a good idea to try to hold them for more than a couple minutes. It’s better to let them come to you (treats are always a good bribe). Tame degus will usually happily sit in your hand, sleep in your hoodie, or perch on your shoulder.
The sex of a Degu is difficult to determine by sight, but typically, the female Degu is larger that the male. Females are sexually mature by the age of nine months, but in rare occasions, impregnation can occur as early as eight or nine weeks. There is no standard estrus cycle, but ovulation does seem to be dependent on the availability of a male. Degu males do have mating cries, described as a “wheep,” which they will call both before and after mating – first to attract and then to brag.
Kitten booster formula has been reported to be beneficial to pregnant females during the last 3 weeks of pregnancy. In addition it is supposed to help the females remain healthy while they are lactating. Additionally if more pups are born than the mother can feed naturally they can be fed the booster forumla.
Be aware that some Degus, especially on their first litter, will not care adequately for their babies. Watch the baby’s eyes throughout the weaning process, if you notice their eyes are closed more than one day after birth, or were open and are now closed, there is probably something wrong. Also, when hand nursing, unless the mother has totally abandoned the babies, start with the strongest kits, keeping them separate to give the small kits a better chance at mom.
Degus are pretty hardy creatures but be prepared for a possible trip to the exotics vet. Here is a list of some common problems degus suffer and what you should do:
Diabetes: Degus become diabetic by eating too much sugar. A diabetic degu will usually not last very long (though I’ve heard of degus living with diabetes for years). To prevent this from happening, don’t feed your degu sugary foods. A degu that is drinking and/or urinating more then usual may be diabetic. Sometimes they will also get cataracts.
Liver Problems: Degus get liver problems from a bad diet or eating too many fatty foods.
Mouth Diseases: Degus are very prone to mouth diseases. When this happens, their teeth will usually turn white which means the degu will probably die soon. To prevent this, change your degus water and wash the waterbottle often. I’ve heard that vitamin C helps but this isn’t proven.
Parasites: Degus can get fleas, mites, and ticks. You may want to check them over if they are scratching a lot. If your degu seems to be in pain when you touch its ear or if the ears smell bad, it may have an ear infection as a result of mite infestation. Degus can get parasites from hay, bedding, and other animals. You can get medication for this from your vet.
Wounds: Degus may get injuries sometimes, usually from fighting other degus. The wound should heal on its own unless it is large (in which case a vet should be seen). If you spot infection (putting a little Neosporin on the wound can help prevent this) or if the wound doesn’t heal after a week you should call your vet.
Broken leg: A broken leg may result from a bad jump or similar situation. If a broken leg occurs one should call their vet and see if pain medication is recommended. Keep the degu in a smaller, one level cage with little to climb on and try to keep it calm and quiet while it heals.
Diarrhea: Usually occurs when you feed too many fresh veggies. Don’t feed your degu any fresh fruits or vegetables for a while and it should go away. This also could be a sign of another illness so definitely keep a close eye on your pet. If the degu won’t eat, shows any other symptoms, or doesn’t recover, contact your vet.
Constipation: Cause is unknown but may have to do with a bad diet. When a degu is constipated it won’t poop and appears depressed and uncomfortable. I’ve never had this problem but I’ve heard of massaging the degu’s belly with olive oil and if your degu doesn’t improve within a couple of hours then make sure to take your degu to the vet IMMEDIATELY.
Genetic Diseases: As a result of inbreeding, degus may get cataracts. This is incurable, but feeding the degu a good diet may help.
Tumors: If you notice a tumor on your degu, get it to an exotics vet.
Colds: If your degu can’t clear its nose and is having trouble breathing, then get antibiotics from your vet or your degu may develop pneumonia.
Where are Degus legal?
While we will do our very best to maintain this page to reflect the most current information we can find, when it comes to exotic animal rules and regulations you should always practice due diligence and contact your local or state authorities before making any decisions about owning or purchasing degus.
Don’t know who to call to find out if degus are legal in your home state or city? The name of the appropriate department or the department to which exotic animal legality falls changes from state to state here are some examples:
- Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Department of Fish and Game
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Environmental Management
Where are Degus Legal / Illegal in the United States
|State||Status||Details & Source|
|California||Illegal||California Department of Fish and Game|
|Colorado||Legal||Permit may be required
Colorado Division of Wildlife
Degus are not listed on any permit exempt or banned exotic list which leads us to believe they are legal with permit. Confirm with your local authorities.
|Delaware||Legal||Exempt from Exotic Permits
– Delaware Department of Agriculture
|District of Columbia|
|Georgia||Illegal||Georgia Department of Agriculture
|Maine||Legal||No Permit Needed (unrestricted species)
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
|Massachusetts||Legal||No Permit Needed
Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife
|Montana||Legal||No Permit Needed (noncontrolled species)
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
|Nebraska||Legal||state.ne.us (PDF)Nebraska Game and Parks Commission|
|Northern Marianas Islands|
|Rhode Island||Legal||No Permit Necessary
Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
|Vermont||Legal||Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department
Degus marked as unrestricted in 2007 list
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
To submit a question, please visit the contact us page. Please remember that were are not qualified vets and cannot legally give medical advice, although most websites do, and do not suffer the consequences of trying out guessed medication on some one else’s pets. At the first signs of illness take your pet to a qualified vet. No amount of research can compete with a trained professional.
Cage and Housing
Q. I don’t think I’d be able to look after two Degus at the same time, can I keep just 1?
A. NO! Degus are social creatures, they need company to stay happy and healthy. No amount of human interaction will make up for that.
Q. All I seem to find is wire cages, which most websites say are bad for my Degus, what should i keep them in?
A. Wire cages are perfect for your Degus as long as the base is solid, not mesh. Preferably a glass tank could form the bottom of the cage, but you cannot keep your pets in an all glass tank as this will restrict circulation, as well as shelves and fixtures inside the cage.
Q. How big should my Degu Cage be?
A. The bigger the cage, the better for your Pets! a general rule of thumb is 100 x 100 x 50cm for 2 Degus, doubling for each addition pair.
Q. Why does my Degu keep biting on the wire in the cage?
A. Degus bite the wire to try and ‘expand’ their territory, thinking they have a chance on escaping. This is normal behaviour, and can sometimes indicate your cage is too small or does not contain enough distractions.
Q. Does my cage need an exercise wheel?
A. In short, YES! Degus need plenty of exercise to stay healthy, of which 99% will come from a wheel. It needs to have a solid base, not the mesh or barred ones you see in pet stores. You can find more information on our Toys and Exercise Page. If you cannot find a good wheel, we have given instructions on how to make a Metal Wheel in our Create Your Own Range.
Q. Can my Degu be neutered?
A They can, although due to the health problems and risks of putting an small pet under anaesthetic, we highly recommend against it, and should only be used as a last resort.
Q. My Degus keep fighting! what can I do?
A. Please refer to the fighting guide, and if all else fails, they may have to be separated
Q. Does a Degu have to live with other Degus, or can I move it in with one of my other pets?
A. Degus should only live with other Degus, any other living arrangements will result in deadly fights over territory, and incompatibility due to different sleeping patterns, dietary requirements and other factors.
Q. One of my Degus died and the other looks very lonely now.. is it possible to introduce a new Degu to the cage?
A. It certainly is! see our new introductions guide for more information. You should never let a Degu live alone, and despite difficulties in introducing new pets, every effort should be made