Breeding Degus can be a fun, enjoyable experience, but before undertaking such a risky task, you need to do your research. Degu Breeding can very rarely make you money. Breeding Degus can become very costly when you take into consideration the number of other cages you will need.
You will need to separate the male and female pups shortly after birth to prevent inbreeding, and the male and female parents to avoid unwanted breeding.
You should not allow your pet to fall pregnant more than once a year as this results in much unnecessary stress on your Degu and results in very early death, please remember your pet is a living creature first and always should be considered as a way of making money last. However, if you are still interested, here is a bit of information to get you started.
Preparing for Degu Breeding
To breed, you will need four full sized Degu cages, one for the male and female when not breeding. The other cage will be for the subsequent male and female pups to prevent in-breeding, and male and female adult Degus from different verified families to avoid inbreeding.
Inbreeding should be avoided – because it will result in genetic health defects for the pups. The Male and female need to be kept separate a few days after the birth as the female becomes fertile again and should not become pregnant at all costs as this will be too soon after giving birth and cause too much stress the female’s body.
The other cages are to separate the offspring, as brothers and sisters will need to be separated to prevent inbreeding when they become mature, as although this sounds wrong, is not an ethical problem for rodents, and so the resulting pups could be born with genetic health concerns.
Inbreeding could also happen between parent and child, ‘eww’, but true, so the two main cages after the pups birth and weaning should be separated into mother and girls, father and boys.
You will also need the number of a good vet, familiar with Degus (not all have experience of these animals) and able to make visits at short notice in case of any emergencies that arise.
It would also be useful to have a smaller cage to enclose your Degus in the event of any emergency vet visits. I use an old metal hamster cage with modifications, so there is a metal base so the Degus can not chew their way out.
This Aviary cage from Zoo Plus is the perfect breeder’s cage, at nearly 2 meters tall and without loads of pre-installed platforms is entirely customizable to your pets needs, and could even be turned into two cages by a central horizontal partition and a make-shift door.
In the wild, the Degu breeding season is usually around May-June time, although in captivity, breeding is not restricted to seasons, partially as staying indoors in the same constant temperature environment means the Degus will have little sense of what season it is. A female will only mate if ready, reject the male and warn him off until this time.
A female can become pregnant again as early as one day after giving birth, so it is recommended to keep sexes apart during this time. You should never breed from Degus with any disease as this will have potential effects not only on the pups but the mother too, even resulting in her death.
Degus During Birth
The pregnancy period (gestation) usually lasts for three months (around 90 days). A Degu’s birth usually lasts between 30 minutes to 1 hour, where between 2-10 pups are born, but typically around 6. The Degus are born fully furred with their eyes opening after a few hours. Degus are born with teeth, are capable of eating regular Degu feed and suckle off the female.
Hours before Birth
After 3-4 hours, they usually display their inquisitive personality by searching their surroundings and locating the nest box. After birth, any male adults in the cage will need to be removed to prevent any pregnancy during the following 4-5 days, and the mother should be allowed at least a year to regain strength and recover before mixing Degus for breeding again. Any more than this could give unnecessary stress and possibly cause early death and complications for the developing pups.
Degus as Parents
Degus make great parents, often grouping together to share responsibilities. If there are more than one pregnant female in the cage, they help each other, and look after all pups in the nest together and nurture all the pups, regardless of who the mother is. The father is also active, helping to raise the pups, play with them and educate them.
On the rare occasion the mother rejects the pups, this can be devastating for the baby Degus upbringing and can lead to death on occasion. Both parents should be allowed to live with the pups after the initial 3-4 day separation period. You should not attempt to hand rear the pups, owners that have tried this have reported abnormal behavior and brain function, in keeping with the psychological theories in humans of maternal deprivation.
After six weeks Degus should be separated into different cages for different sexes, so the siblings do not mate and cause genetic diseases to the offspring. The female will be ready to mate again after around five weeks, although this should not be allowed. The pups will suckle the females milk for the first week, before moving onto solid food.
This is not a definitive guide on breeding, and as we state it should not be attempted by amateurs. Please consult advice from vets or other breeders if you wish to go down this route.