Last Modified

July 27, 2022 by Umair Shahid


Are you considering owning a degu? But before buying you are curious to know if this will be a long-term commitment or not. So, you have come to the right place.

Although degu is a rodent, it doesn’t have a short lifespan like its friend rodents.

 Can you believe that the lifespan of this little creature is the highest among rodents?

Degu lifespan

Degus in captivity have a long lifespan. It can live for five to nine years in captivity.

The lifespan of degu in wild is short. They can live for one to four years there. The main cause of death among them in wild is predation.

Several factors affect the lifespan of the degu. These factors include genetics, care, and diet.

Owning a degu is a long-term commitment.  So you have to prepare things accordingly. You will own the pet for almost a decade.

But your pet will not disappoint you. Once you form a bond with them, they will love to remain around you.

Because of their affectionate behavior, you will want your pet near you all the time.

My Tizer is so attached to me that when I enter my house after work. It bounces with joy. I love his reaction.

I can bet that these little creatures will steal your heart from day one. They have outgoing personalities and gentle behavior.

Owning a degu is illegal in some places. These include the U.S, California, Alaska, Utah, and Georgia.

Degus are diurnal, this means that they remain active throughout the day. This is one of the reasons that degus make great pets.

Degu lifespan in captivity

Degu’s lifespan in captivity is a lot longer than wild. It is between five to nine years. This lifespan is greater among all pet rodents.

So, degu is a long-term commitment. So, before buying them you have to ask yourself whether you are ready for a long-term commitment or not.

Although a pet degu doesn’t have risks of predation or pesticides. But other factors can lead to their short lifespan of them even in captivity.

These include bad diet and improper care. I am going to discuss all the factors that decrease the lifespan of degu.

Degu lifespan in wild

Wild degus have a shorter lifespan than degus in captivity. Generally, wild degu lives between one to four years.

Still, most of them die during their first year. The lifespan in wild is shortened because of various factors.

These include predators, diseases, and take of pesticides.

Factors affecting their lifespan

The factors that majorly affect the lifespan of degu in captivity include their diet, how you take care of them, and genetic disposition.


Genetic issues that led to certain health diseases are one of the main factors determining the lifespan of the degu.

Degus are prone to certain health issues and diseases. I am keeping you aware so that you can decrease the possibility of them carrying the disease.


Degus are very prone to diabetes. Then diabetes can lead to other health issues like eye problems. Because of diabetes, your pet will urinate more and will drink more also.

The cells of the pancreas stop producing insulin.

Alzheimer’s disease

Degus are lab animals also. As they are used to study diabetes. But now they are also used to study Alzheimer’s disease in the lab.

The spontaneous development of beta-amyloid deposits occurs in their brain.

Degus develop certain degenerative changes in their cortex. This happens when they live a longer lifespan.

Wild degus are not affected by this disease. However, the captive degus can have this disease. They develop the same symptoms as humans.

Eye problems

Degus are also prone to cataracts, lesions on their lenses, and other eye diseases.

These diseases are mainly the result of genetic predisposition. Certain eye problems in degus are also the result of diabetes.


Just as humans, degus can also develop cancer. The cause of cancer can be inherited.

Role of diet

Another important factor that greatly affects the lifespan of a degu is its diet. Luckily, this factor can be adjusted by us.

A healthy and balanced diet will prevent the development of a lot of diseases. It will keep your pet healthy.

Degus require a low protein diet. They require a high fiber diet or you can say herbivores diet.  

Wild degus eat a lot of grass, seeds, and shrubs. However, pet degus may have a lot of treats. And this can be dangerous for them.

The healthy diet of degu includes hay, pellets, and fresh vegetables. Treats can be given occasionally.

Treats are high in fat and sugar so avoid giving frequent treats. Otherwise, your pet will become obese and diabetic.

Vitamin and mineral supplements are not necessary but they can prevent certain genetic diseases.


Degus can have a shorter lifespan if you don’t take care of them properly. It can greatly affect your pet’s health.

If you want your degu to live a healthy and long life, you have to provide him the following.

  • Companionship
  • Proper handling
  • Balanced diet
  • Appropriate cage
  • Toys and other fun items
  • Regular check-ups by a vet


Degus are social animals. They live in groups in the wild. The worst mistake people make is to own a single degu.

See also  Degu Care ( Ultimate Guide)

A solitary animal will eventually become very stressful and nosy. Stress will lead to a shorter lifespan.

So, always get a pair of degus. It’s even better to get a group of degus. It will stimulate their natural behavior.

Proper handling

Degus are curious animals and they love to walk freely. Unlike other pet rodents, they don’t like to be picked up and handled.

If you handle them by force, this will cause stress and as a result shorter lifespan.

Appropriate cage

Don’t buy a small cage for degu. These are active creatures and they love to climb and jump.

Get them a large enclosure with proper bedding. This will make them happy and active.

Toys and accessories

Degus are curious animals. They can easily get bored when they have nothing to do all day long.

Toys keep them busy. You should invest in chew toys that wear their teeth down. Their teeth grow continuously like other rodents.

So they always need something to chew. This prevents dental problems.

Health problems and a visit to the vet

Degus can suffer from common health problems. Some can be asymptomatic too. So you have to provide them with regular checkups.

The common health issues include

  • GIT upsets
  • Skin problems
  • Bumblefoot
  • Dental problems
  • Parasites

Tricks for a long lifespan

Although, these pets already have a longer lifespan, with some tips you can further increase their lifespan.

  • Buy your degu from a reputable breeder and pet store.
  • Feed them a balanced diet and avoid giving them frequent treats.
  • Get regular check-ups by an experienced vet
  • Give your degu the company of other pets. You can also keep a group of degus
  • Handle your degu properly and allow them to come to you.
  • Never force them to swim.
  • Never provide them a water bath.
  • Provide them with toys and accessories to avoid boredom and anxiety.
  • Provide them with large and spacious housing.
  • Don’t grab them by their tail.
  • Interact with them daily and make a strong bond with them.


At what age do degus reach sexual maturity?

The age of sexual maturity in degus varies. However, it can anywhere between six months. The average age of sexual maturity in females is about seven weeks.

It is longer in some males. A Male has an average age of about 12 weeks of sexual maturity.

Do degus die easily?

If you keep them with proper care, they won’t die unexpectedly. They have an average lifespan of five to nine years.

In captivity, if proper care is given, they will not die unless a disease has attacked them.

Proper diet, hygienic measures, and happiness are key to the long lifespans of degus.

What to do with a dead degu?

Bury it in a place that you visit often. Give extra time to your remaining degus. Keep a close eye on them so that your other pets are coping with the stress.

Change the setting of cage furniture to distract other degus. Share memories of your pet on different social media platforms to keep his memories alive.


Degus are the longest-living rodents. They are prone to several diseases but still, they can survive many years.

These pets are a long-term commitment. But these pets are very affectionate and their behavior impresses their pet owners.

The lifespan of degu in wild is one to four years. They mostly die during their first years in the wild.

The causes of death in the wild include predation. Moreover, the ingestion of pesticides is also a major cause.

The lifespan of degu in captivity is five to nine years. With proper care, diet, and other tricks you can increase their lifespan.

Certain factors affect their lifespan. These include genetics. Degu who has a genetic predisposition to diseases develops that disease rapidly.

So genetics play a major role in their lifespan. Moreover, diabetes is also the main cause of their death.

Diabetes further led to other health issues like eye problems.

Alzheimer’s disease is also found in captive degus. They have symptoms the same as humans.

Degus are lab animals used for diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease study.

Companionship, balanced diet, proper housing, frequent check-ups by vet, proper handling, and toys can increase their lifespan.

You can increase their lifespan by following the simple tips.

Give them a balanced diet of hay, pellets, and vegetables. Provide them with spacious cage and housing.

Don’t handle them by their tail. Avoid forceful handling. Make a strong bond with them.

Don’t provide them water bath.

So, I would recommend you to own these little creatures if you can take proper care of them.

Otherwise, with improper care, you will put their life at risk.

Research Reference


I am a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and have a keen interest in animal health care. Working as a veterinary content writer, I intend to stay with professional approach in producing quality content. I like research-based reading and currently seeking my veterinary profession. My hobbies are travelling to exotic places and observing nature to the fullest.

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