Many people enjoy having rodents for pets. There are many popular choices such as guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats, and chinchillas. There is an unknown rodent that is popular with its owners. This is the little degu.
Degus are social animals. In fact, they do poorly if kept by themselves in captivity. If you mixed the sexes, only have one male and be prepared for plenty of babies in a short period of time. In the wild, they live in large communities and dig elaborate systems of burrows. It is common to have 90-100 degus in a community.
Why are degus popular among their owners? They are playful and curious. In fact, they are not afraid of anything. Degus are intelligent and like to be kept entertained. They are tame and like to be handled if they started at an early age. They are most active during the day.
Degus have been in the domestic market for the last 50 years. They are easier to keep and less trouble than the exotic chinchilla. Believe it or not, degus have been successfully kept with chinchillas, rabbits, and guinea pigs. If you are looking for one as a pet, the best bet is to find one for adoption. They breed rapidly and some owners have a population explosion quickly after becoming pet owners.
In the wild, a degu will normally live for less than a year. In captivity, it is common for degus to live 5-8 years with proper care. They need a large cage of at least 24 x 18 x 24. It is best if the cage is multi-level and you should buy one that will not rust. Like a chinchilla, the cage better not be made of wood or they will eat themselves out of a home.
Avoid cedar or pine shavings and use an absorbent layer of bedding. Also, degus need a box for a sense of security. To keep them entertain and active, degus need an exercise wheel.
Just like a chinchilla, degus need a dust bath. Like all rodents, degus are determined, chewers. To keep their teeth in check, they must have wood blocks, chews, or branches.
Degus need to have a special diet. They cannot digest sugar. This means sweets such as fruits must be avoided at all costs. You can feed them a combination of chinchilla or guinea pig pellets and rodent blocks.
If you want to introduce a new degu, it must be done slowly. First, they should be the same sex unless you want many babies. They should be in the same cage with a strong mesh divider between them. Give them about a week to become familiar with each other. Before, you put them together take them out and clean the cage. This way the degus will not pick up previous smells. You must pay attention to make sure, they don’t fight.
Degus are an interesting pet and with the proper space and attention will keep their owner happy for years. Like any pet, care must be taken to their special needs and requirements especially at a young age.