Choosing a Degu as a Pet
Degus are really friendly, intelligent pets that love to play and explore; as a result, making them very entertaining to watch. Being social animals, they are happier when kept together; and it is always better to keep Degus in pairs.
They are normally active during the day and night, and with lots of attention they can become very tame.
These pets are also predisposed to becoming diabetic so their diet must account for this.
Company for Degus
Degus are very sociable animals and need a lot of company and attention; so it’s recommended that you keep at least two, in same sex pairs. A single Degu will need a lot of attention and is likely to become unhappy.
If you want to introduce a new Degu to others; it is advised that you split your cage to prevent them from dominating one another, while they get to know each other.
The normal lifespan for a Degu is between six and eight years.
Where Degus Like to Live
A wire cage with a solid base is recommended for your Degus; as it will prevent them from hurting their feet. Their cage should have several levels as they need space to exercise.
Your Degus should be kept indoors; although despite originating from South America they do not like high temperatures, so don’t keep them in a room that’s very hot. Their cage should be out of direct sunlight and away from radiators and draughts. A wooden box should be provided full of hay for them to sleep in.
Exercise & Play for Degus
Degus are very active and like to climb and need space to exercise. They love to chew everything so it is important that you buy the proper toys for them. A cuttlebone is great for chewing on and provides them with calcium. Wood and wooden toys made from natural materials are best suited for your Degus.
Diet & Nutrition
A Degu’s diet should consist of good quality hay and dried grass combined with a specialist blend Degu food. Small pieces of vegetables can also be fed to supplement their diet.
It is important to remember that Degus are prone to developing diabetes, so their diet must be controlled. This is to ensure that foods high in sugar or honey are not consumed; and even fruit with high sugar content can cause serious health problems.
Health & Hygiene
A healthy diet, regular exercise and a clean home will help to keep your Degu in good health. Their cage should be cleaned at least once a week using a pet-safe disinfectant. In addition, water and feeding bowls should be cleaned every day.
A happy Degu will be:
- Bright and alert
- Active and move around the cage easily
- Should have orange teeth
- Have a glossy coat with no bald patches
Illness & Disease
Diabetes is a common illness in Degus; and if too much sugar is included in their diet your Degu is likely to develop the disease. Untreatable in small animals, symptoms of diabetes will include weight gain and thirst. Therefore, if you notice either of these; it is recommended that you take your Degu to the vet for a check-up.
Your Degu may also develop liver problems if there is too much fat in their diet. Excessive thirst is also a symptom of liver disease in Degus’ so it is one which should be monitored.
Like some other small animals, your Degus teeth will grow continuously throughout their lives. As a result, it is essential that they are provided with chew toys and gnaw sticks to help them keep their teeth healthy. Overgrown teeth will cause considerable pain and prevent your Degu from eating.
A dust bath is essential for your Degus health and the condition of their coat. Degus find the dust bath soothing, relaxing and fun; although too much bathing can dry their skin. Consequently, if the dust bath is left in the cage the Degu will often sit in it and use it as a litter box.
Take Me Home Checklist
When you take your Degu home, you will need to make sure you have some things in order to help keep him healthy and happy. We’ve put together a simple ‘Take Me Home’ checklist for new Degu keepers. If you have any questions, or need any further advise, please drop in to your local Petmania and talk to our Petcare Advisors.
• Degu Cage (wire cage with a base)
• Wooden house
• Bedding (wood shavings)
• Degu food (Hay and Degu pellets)
• Ceramic food bow
• Water bowl
• Dust bath & sand
• Degu treats
• Degu toys
• Degu book