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Degus are small rodents. Commonly they are often referred to as "Chilean squirrel's".
They are also known as Octodon Degu, "Octodon" meaning "eight-toothed rodent" which means that molar teeth surfaces look like a figure eight.
Degu is one Degu, Degus is 2 or more.
Degus are concidered an "Exotic" pet and are somewhat rare and are not sold in most common Pet shops.
The Pet shops who do sell Degus need to be USDA licensed in order to sell them.
If a local pet shop does not carry them, you may need to special order them or locate a local breedery.
They originate from a small part of Chile.
Their appearance is much like a large Gerbil or small Chinchilla.
They have a small tuft of hair at the end of their tails.
Degus like to hold their tails up high in the air and also use them for balance when walking.
All Degus appear to look alike, sometimes the owner can look closely at hair patterns or facial features to help tell them apart.
Degus take Dust baths -like Chinchilla's in Volcano dust or sand.
Providing your Degu with dust is important, this is how they bathe.
Degus do not like water and should NOT be given a bath in water!
Pet stores sells plastic Chinchilla dust houses that work well. You can also use small jars or containers as dust areas -make sure they are safe and the Degu will not get stuck in them.
They love to run and spend many, many hours a day running on their wheels.
They also enjoy running in large Ferret size balls.
Wild Degus lifespans are quite short, about a year. However, pet Degus tend to live much longer, typically. 2-5 years old.
Females are pregnant for 87-93 days, much longer than a lot of small animals.
There is an average of 3-9 babies per litter. However, on occasion they have been known to have as many as 12.
Degus live best in same sex pairs. It is best if they are kept together since birth, and then acquired in pairs.
Trying to introduce one Degu to another Degu from another litter can prove to be difficult, as they will fight for an alpha/leader.
Males private areas are spaced further apart, while Females are closer together.
It can be difficult for an unexperienced person to tell Females & males apart.
Some Degus if left by themselves have been known to get depressed and die from loneliness.
Degus are very frequent boxers, this is where they stand on their hind legs and push their hands at each other. They do this out of boredom, aggression and playfulness.
Commonly Degus will chirp, churble, bark and make squealing noises, sometimes they do this when fighting other times they seem to do it for no real apparent reason.
It can appear as if they have the hiccups.
Degus play all the time, day or night and take short little naps throughout the day.
Some Degus are known to be very heavy sleepers and even if touched or bothered will just keep on sleeping.
Degus are very curious and will nibble on anything and everything.
They are also very fast and are not very fond of being held.
They prefer sitting in your hand rather then having your hands wrapped around them. They are also very good shoulder riders.
They enjoy building nests and providing them with towels, paper towels, shredded newspaper, tissues and/or napkins will provide them with enjoyment.
Degus can not digest sugar and if over time they are fed sugar frequently, a build up of sugar in their bodies can occur and cause an illness similar to Diabetes, severe illness and death.
Alot of Scientific Laboratories use Degus to research Diabetes drugs.
Degus can be fed rodent lab blocks, Degu food, hay, rabbit food & Alfalfa pellet Chinchilla food.
Do not feed Your Degu foods with high amounts of sugar, molasses or other sugary products.
Be careful if purchasing Chinchilla food for them, Be sure to look at the ingredients, alot of Chinchilla foods have banannas or raisins mixed in, those are not good for your Degu.
Oxbow Charlie Chinchilla food is a very good food for Degus.
Some Degus will not eat Rabbit food so you may have to try several different types ot find which one they like.
Remember Degus will nibble and eat just about anything so just because they will eat it, does not mean it is good for them.
Degus NEED a wheel to help them run off the calories and the sugars that they may eat.
Degus enjoy chewing on dog bones, sticks and wood items.
Degus love hay and will eat a small amount of it everyday.
Degus should not be fed sugar or foods high in fats or carbohydrates.
Common snacks can be Broccoli, peas, cucumbers, carrots, mashed potato's and 6 or less sunflower seeds per Degu.
Degus can also be fed fresh fruit on rare occasions -such as once a month. Make sure all serving amounts you give them of human foods are very small.
Some Degus do not tolerate tap water well. They need to be given fresh filtered water, or bottled spring water.
Their waters should be refilled/changed every other day to daily.
Degus should have food and water available at all times.
Make sure the food dishes and water bottles you use are made of strong material and that your Degus will not be able to chew through them.
Placing the water bottle on the outside of the cage with just the mouth piece inside the cage can help prevent chewing on the bottle.
Feeding your Degus the right safe foods is very important to their health as most health issues with Degus are caused by the wrong food being fed to them.
Wire cages are more suitable than aquariums due to better ventilation.
For Bedding Newspaper layed down flat works well with shredded newspaper on top.
If you must use a wood based bedding, Use Aspen as Pine is much to dusty and has harmful Phenols in it that can effect all small animals lungs.(As well as your own)
Your Degus need room to play, as a general rule, the bigger the cage the better.
When looking for a cage make sure you get one with the correct bar spacing, so your Degu will not be able to escape.
Wire cages on top of plastic bottoms tend to work well, as then the bottom can catch some of the dust, as the Degus do throw their dust all over.
If your Degu has babies transferring them into an aquarium until the babies grow up is a good idea so they don't fall out of the cage through the bars or get stuck or injured.
On 6/28/05 i became the proud owner of two pet Degus!
They are wonderful and amazing animals.
I named my two Degus, Smurfy & Wuzzle. Wuzzle was 4 months old and Smurfy was 3 months old when i got them.
On 7/16/05 I found Smurfy on the bottom of his cage with his mouth filled with food, I presume he got startled and chocked, possibly.
Not wanting Wuzzle to get lonely as Degus are used to living in groups, I picked up Dagget & Snorky on 7/24/05.
Wuzzle at first was very excited to have company but after two days of guests that wouldn't leave he got a bit upset and started chasing and attacking the two new guys, so i had to separate them. Not to mention Dagget was to small for the large cage i had put all 3 in and he escaped a couple of times. So, Wuzzle stayed in the large cage and Snorky & Dagget are in the smaller cage -since they are smaller than Wuzzle.
All 3 of the Degus love to run on their wheels and in running balls, the spend many hours a day exercising and running.
Snorky and Dagget look pretty much identical so to tell them apart I put permanant marker (non toxic) rings around their tails. They take dust baths often, so i have to re-color their tails every two days!
9/23/05 Dagget & Snorky are growing so fast and are now nearly the same size as Wuzzle. Dagget & Snorky are very well behaved and come out for playtime on the bed with us quite frequently. Wuzzle is very curious and if not supervised very closely while out for playtime he will take a flying leap off the bed onto the floor and take off running.
Snorky & Dagget love to chirp and talk alot. All of the Degus talk to each other through the cage bars.
Wuzzle is a very insistant chewer and has almost completely demolished his running ball, I have to Duct tape on the ball lid so wuzzle doesn't escape.
4/23/06 The Degus are doing well and are now full grown. Snorky & Dagget love to go for long runs in their runningballs. Wuzzle on the other hand only last about 10 minutes before he starts trying to chew the ball to plastic shreds, so needless to say he doesn't get out to run as often anymore. Wuzzle likes to have his chin and cheeks scratched, this makes Wuzzle chirp and churble. Snorky & Dagget have a ritual that after they both get back in the cage after a run around in the ball, they have to Degu box and chase each other around as if they had never seen each other before. After about 15 minutes they settle down with each other for a nap.
I was just noticing that Degus tend to shed a lot of hair, probably because they take so many dust baths, but it seems like i am always cleaning up hair & dust off of the table next to them. :)
8/8/06 Unfortunatly, we had a very bad heatwave on 7/29/06 Both Snorky & Dagget, brothers, best friends and cage mates passed away from heatstroke. Snorky was running in his ball in an air conditioned room, but the door got left open for a moment and he snuck out. He stopped to take a nap and died within minutes from the heat.
I found Dagget immediatly after finding Snorky, he was under his tissue box house barried under his bedding, he was alive but very hot, and hardly moving. I put cold cans on his tail and ears, moving it around trying to cool him off, i was massaging him trying to make him become alert, after a little while i decided i needed to put him in luke warm water and try that way, altho Degu's hate water -so i'm told, For a few minutes he began to perk up, but than just layed their for about 20 minutes and finally he passed away.
It is so very sad to see those cute boys go, they always had so much fun running in their wheel and in their ball, they cuddled together all the time but still had the occasional spats where they proceeded to Degu box for short periods of time.
I stupidly was under the assumption Degu's would be alright in the heat -i had a few fans in the room - as they originate from Chile, which gets much warmer weather than here, but what i didn't realize is they live under ground in the Mountains were the weather is much cooler. I immediatly after this incident installed a A/C window unit -not the most powerful thing, but it's better than nothing, so nothing like this will happen again.
Wonderful Wuzzle! Wuzzle is still alive and doing well, my one remaining Degu, he was much closer to the fan and was running on his wheel happily through the heatwave. Wuzzle has a new roomate -and it's not a Degu! On 8/5/06 i picked up 3 Spiny mice -2 females who were torturing the one male, he was so upset he squeezed and squeezed and got out of his cage and went into Wuzzle's cage. He began eating Wuzzle's food, going to the bathroom in his dust house, and climbing all over the sticks. Wuzzle didn't seem to mind a bit. Wuzzle only got a little upset when he went over to his wheel only to find it in use, he then turns away and comes back a few minutes later to check if the wheel is free yet. I have yet to see them sleep together, they usually stay on oppositie sides of the cage, but i have seen them come very close to each other. The mouse -Whose name is Tycoon (Wuzzles is a TV cartoon from the 80's -Tycoon is a Wuzzle on the show -so we named the mouse Tycoon because he is trying to be a Wuzzle) has little bite marks on his tail from where the 2 female spinies beat him up, and Wuzzle has caused him no harm.
This is quite an odd pair, Wuzzle does not like other Degu's but apparently he doesn't mind a little Spiny mouse. The few people i have mentioned the odd pair to, have doubted me -so please see the pictures below to prove it is true!
5/7/08 Wuzzle is now over 3 years old and still hanging on strong. He enjoys hours after hour running on his wheel. He really enjoy stashing his lab blocks off in the corner to try to convince Mom that he ate all his food and needs more. Wuzzle enjoys daily scratching's through his cage bars, as he hates being held. He will hop onto his food dispenser and sits nicely waiting for a scratch. Wuzzle really enjoy's it when you scratch his neck and jaw area.
12/20/08 Wuzzle my earthquake alarm! Whenever i run up the basement stairs Wuzzle will start chirping. He will chirp pretty much for any loud noise or sound, i like to call him my earthquake alarm. Wuzzle is still doing great, he loves getting his neck scratched and will lift up his arm and really gets into it. He spends most of his days running on his wheel or relaxing in his house.
9/10/10 Sadly Wuzzle passed away. He was over 5 years old. He had been doing well until about the last week, then he wasn't quite as active or as hungry for his nut treats. He was an excellent Degu, i miss him very much.
On 9/26/11 i acquired a New Degu! I was at an animal Swap and soem people i know were trying to rehome their Degu and asked if i would take him. I of course had to take him and he came home with me! He was born approx. 9/2010. His name is Oscar and he is a talker! He barks and squeals all the time! He loves nuts, i mean absolutly loves them! When you walk near he cage he barks and squeals begging for treats! He doesn't like being held to much so it is best to pet him through the open door. He is starting to like getting his chin scratched. I have never encountered a Degu that talk so much!