These adorable little furries are seeing a resurgence in popularity, so we thought we would enlighten our readers to all the important things you may need to know before you adopt!
- Degus originate from Chile, South America, and although they look a little like a large gerbil, they are in fact more closely related to guinea pigs and chinchillas.
- They live on average 6-8 years in captivity. They require more attention from their owners than other smaller pets such as hamsters or gerbils.
- Degus are not able to tolerate sugar in their diet as they are prone to getting diabetes if given sugary foods frequently!
- Diet should namely consist of hay with fresh vegetables (e.g. cabbage, broccoli, green beans, lettuce) being offered twice a week. Herbs are also your Degus friend-basil, chives, coriander and parsley can also be offered in moderation.
- Degus do not like to live alone, they should be housed with a playmate of the same sex to avoid stress or depression. Make sure when adopting that they have been sexed correctly, as otherwise you could end up with a lot more Degus than originally planned.
- Handling is very important, Degus love humans and enjoy being handled and groomed. They form very strong bonds with their owners if handled and socialised regularly.
- Daily dust baths are needed to keep their fur in tip top condition. However these should not be kept in the cage as they need to be clean and moisture free. Tip-You can use chinchilla sand for their dustbath as this is more commonly sold in pet shops.
- Degus are not nocturnal. This means they are awake during the day. They are very active and love to run, jump and climb which means they require a cage that is large enough to facilitate their energetic natures.
- When you come to making your Degus housing comfortable, use wood shavings or straw and then provide them with strips of paper, hay or tissue to build a nest. Tip-NEVER use wood pellets as if ingested these can swell and cause gastric blockages. Cotton wool should also be avoided as it can get tangled around their feet and in extreme cases create tourniquets, causing paws to loose blood supply.
- Provide your Degus with lots of toys to keep them stimulated. Bored, depressed Degus will self mutilate in severe cases. Parrot toys or tubes stuffed with hay and treats for them to dig out are just a few ideas to keep your furry friends occupied.
PAUL’S POINTS: “Degus make great pets but it is important that you never handle them by their tale as this can cause them to “deglove” which then leads to complete and permanant loss of the tail”.