Last Modified

January 4, 2023 by Umair Shahid

  

Have you bought yourself a degu? And now you are looking for information that tells you how to care for them.

Don’t worry then, I have shared all my findings and experience in this article.

When I first time bought my degus, they were very curious and aggressive too. I tried to tame them gently. In addition to aggression, they were afraid of me.

I started interacting with them daily to make a bond with them. Soon they start considering me safe. And guess what, now they wait for me daily.

I am telling you this because degus need special care and attention in the starting.

They are not clingy pets but interaction with their pet owners makes them happy.

 In addition, to make them happy, you have to take care of their health, diet, sleep patterns, and behaviors.

Degu Care

The things you have to take care of while owning a degu include medical needs, diet, housing a degu, and its handling.

Suitable environment

Every pet deserves a good home and a peaceful environment. They also need stress free environment to stay happy.

Degu housing

Your degu housing needs

A solid roof

This is to prevent the entry of predators into their homes. Moreover, they can easily get frightened by movements above them. A solid roof will help them to feel secure.

Space to remain active

Their housing should be spacious. There should be space where they can jump, run, walk, eat, and drink. They also require space for bathing, digging, and nesting.

Toys

Avoid giving them toys made up of plastic. Give them wooden rope and cardboard toys. Also, avoid giving them toys made up of toxic wood like cedar.

Plenty of vertical space

They need a lot of space where they can climb. In the wild, they naturally climb onto the branches of trees. Provide them with different level cages.

And also provide them a ramp that leads to each level of the cage.

Exercise wheels and tunnels

These are required to keep your pet busy. They are active animals. They require plenty of opportunities to exercise.

A dust bath

You have to provide them with a shallow little bowl filled with suitable dust. The bowl should be big enough for them so that they can roll around in them.

But only allow them to take a dust bath twice a week for 20 minutes.

Bedding

Degus need a deep layer of bedding material. This is because they love to dig and burrow. You can use any non-toxic form of wood shavings.

Moreover, you can use hay, shredded paper, or paper tissues.

Keeping them comfortable

Make sure that your pet’s home is always comfortable for them.

Safe, secure home

Check their cage daily. If there are any signs of damage in their cage, repair it immediately. This can hurt your pet. Moreover, degu can escape also.

Place at waist height

Place their cage at waist height helps them to feel secure. This is because they are prey animals and they feel frightened if there is any movement above them.

Temperature

The temperature they require is 20°C. They can’t bear heat above this. Put their cage in the pool area. Overheating in them can lead to heat stroke in them.

Moreover, too much cold temperature can also cause pneumonia in them.

Cleaned regularly

Clean your degu’s cage regularly. Urine and droppings shouldn’t accumulate.

Clean their feeding areas and toilet

Clean their whole cage and water bottle at least once a week. Their feeding areas should also be cleaned regularly.

Clean bedding

Whatever bedding material you use, you have to clean them regularly.

Diet

Compared to other rodents, degus eat a large amount of fiber.

Good quality hay

The majority of the degu’s diet should consist of hay. Degus should have constant access to hay. Hay is much more important for them than any other food.

Degu nuggets and leafy vegetables

Leafy vegetables should be given to them as a part of their daily diet. Also, give them a small portion of degu nuggets.

Drinking water

Degus need a continuous supply of water from their water bottle. You have to check their water bottles daily so that no food is stuck in them. Moreover, clean their bottle regularly.

Also, check the leaks and blockage daily.

If you don’t have specific degu nuggets. Then you can give them guinea pig or chinchilla nuggets.

But these nuggets shouldn’t contain molasses. Foods made for other pets like rabbits, hamsters, and gerbils.

Many fruits are high in sugar content. So, fruits should not be given to degus. Some vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and beetroots are also high in sugar.

So, only give them a small amount of these vegetables. Beware of commercially treated products. These are too sugary for them to digest.

Monitor your degu’s diet

You should keep a close eye on your degu’s eating habits. Remember that they eat their droppings. This helps them to gain essential nutrients.

So, if you see any changing in their natural behavior. Immediately consult a vet.

Behavior

You have to understand the behavior of a degu. This will help you to keep them healthy. I am sharing a checklist through which you can find out the essentials that they require.

Easy access to the needy things

Food, water, hiding places, companions, and toys should be present near them. Always check that their essentials are available for them in enough amounts.

This helps them to avoid competing with each other and live happily

Company of other degus

Degus are social animals. Always buy a pair of degus at least. A single degu can even die because of loneliness.

They love playing and chattering together. So, give them companions and see their happiness.

Space to exercise

Exercise is also important for degus as they are social and active animals. They can chew anything if become bored.

Safe hiding places

Degus need space sometimes. This means that they try to escape and hide in their hideouts when they feel afraid.

They also need hay-filled nest boxes where they can sleep.

To dig and burrow

Give them suitable bedding materials. This is because they love digging and burrowing. As degus may hoard food, you should regularly check their food stores.

Remove any moldy food if present.

Toys

Degus need to be able to chew something all the time. This is because they are rodents and they have continuously growing teeth.

They eat their droppings

They need to eat their droppings because they need essential nutrients from them. They do this to keep their digestive system healthy.

See also  Degu names (Top 27)

Dust baths

Provide them dust baths at least twice a week for 20 minutes. This is essential to remove any debris from their skin and fur.

Overuse of dust baths can lead to health problems. Remember to remove the dust bath from a cage after every routine bathing.

This should be removed to avoid dust bath contamination with urine and feces.

Diurnal nature

Degus are diurnal animals. This means that they remain active during day time and sleep at night. They somehow relate their sleep cycle after viewing the lighting time.

So keep them in a room where they can see the day-night cycle.

Treat your pet with kindness

Never handle them forcefully. Always handle them gently and pick them up with great care. Don’t try to pick them up with a tail.

This can hurt them and can cause extreme pain in them. If you handle them, do so near the ground.

Otherwise, they can suffer a fall. Falling from one or two feet is enough to hurt your pet.

Always be kind and quiet around them. Don’t yell and shout at them. This will nervous them even more.

If you see any changing in the behavior of your pet, consult a vet or animal behaviorist.

Company

Degus are social animals. They live in small groups in the wild. No matter how much you interact with them. Still, they need other degus to live side by side.

They love playing together and grooming each other. Never keep them alone unless advised by the pet.

Keeping a group of degus

When you are choosing which degus should live together, consider the following things.

House them in same-sex pairs or groups

This can be a good option to keep the males separate and females separate. It is a good option to avoid unwanted growth in their population.

A neutral male and several females

Yes, you can also keep them in a way that only one neutral male is present in the cage along with several females.

Many males and females

Don’t place them together. This will end up in a fight between males. Only keep one male in the mixed-sex group.

Always make sure that there are enough resources available all the time. Otherwise, they will compete with each other for resources.

Like, there should be a large enough nesting box in which all the degus can fit. Also, there should be enough hiding places for all of them.

You also need to protect your degus from different types of noises and smells of animals. They can get stressed because of these. This is because they are prey species and they get afraid of cats, dogs, and birds of prey.

Handling your pets

If you provide the company of other degus, still they want your attention. They need regular, calm interaction with you.

Provide them treats to help them enjoy your company. They can find exposure to humans stressful. So, make sure that you want to develop a positive relationship.

Always handle them carefully. Never pick them up with their tail. This can be very stressful for your pet and can hurt them.

Degus can be stressful if you pick them with rough handling. They become afraid when getting exposure to new humans.

Allow them to climb on your palm of a hand, then gently pick them in your cupped hands.

Always keep a close eye on them, when they are with other animals or people who can harm them.

Health

A healthy degu should be alert with bright eyes, clean ears, glossy fur, and a clean tail.

Check your degus for any sign of illnesses like

  • Discharge from nose
  • Opaque sight or whitening of eyes
  •  Wetness of mouth
  • White teeth

White teeth can be a sign of illness. This is because they are naturally yellow-orange.

Degus have continuously growing teeth. So do check them regularly if there is any change in their teeth’s color, length, or shape. Consult the vet.

It’s worth finding out the symptoms of common degu illnesses like vitamin A deficiency, liver disease, heat stroke, tail loss, pneumonia, and diabetes.

If you do not have any changes in their behavior, consult the vet. Avoid giving them medicines that are used for other animals.

Only give them medicines that are recommended by a vet.

FAQs

Are degus easy to take care of?

Degus are affectionate animals. They are easy to care for. They need no grooming help. They have done it with the help of their companions.

On the other aspect, they need food all the time. They chew almost everything. They also need another companion because they want a lot of attention.

How often do they need a dust bath?

Degus need dust baths twice a week for 20 minutes. The bowl should be large and shallow. So that they can roll around in the sand.

Sand baths are necessary because it removes debris and other dust particles.

Conclusion

Degus are social animals. If you buy a degu, then at least buy a pair. Degu’s care is an easy task.

You have to take care of their medical needs, food, company, environment, and handling.

Degus’s environment should be neat and clean. They should have a spacious cage with different levels.

The cage should not be made up of plastic. You also have to provide them food bowl, water bottle, and other essentials.

Provide them hideouts, and a nesting box inside the cage. Moreover, provide them with comfortable bedding.

Their cage should be spacious. A solid roof is also important. This makes them feel secure. Provide them space for exercise.

Provide them with a good diet, a companion, and spacious hay. Moreover, make routine visits to the vet with your degu. This is all that your degu needs.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S003193842100175X

Author 2

I am a proud veterinarian from Lahore, Pakistan. A passionate animal lover who pursued her passion for animal care as a career.
My eagerness to learn and my love for animals grew stronger even during my teenage days. Having a lovely pet, a German Shepherd, in my home allowed me to bond with animals in the best way.
This bonding with my pet provided me with a firm foundation to research and preach about the best animal care methods.

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