Last Modified

March 11, 2023 by Umair Shahid

Are you looking for a rodent pet? But now you are confused between Chinchilla and degu. I can understand. I have been there too.

Then I spent time for research to find out which one is better for me and why. I am sharing my findings with you now.

It is a difficult task to choose between a Chinchilla and a degu. This is because these two critters have a lot in common.

There are a lot of key differences between these two. And these will help you to decide which pet will suit you the most.

Chinchillas tend to sleep during the day and play at night. While degus sleep at night and play during the day.

Chinchillas are longer and heavier. So they require a large cage. In reality, these both are very different animals with different needs.

Besides the pet you choose, you have to provide the proper care.

What is a degu?

Degus are small, intelligent, and social creatures. These rodents are native to the Matorral ecoregion of central Chile.

If we talk about their size, they are 10 to 12 inches in length. They weigh about 170 to 300 grams.

In terms of size, they are larger than the average hamster and smaller than the average rat.

Visually, degus have a yellow-brown coat. Moreover, they have long thin tails, furry ears, and grey toes.

Degus’s average lifespan is 6 to 8 years in captivity. Although, with good care, they can live up to 13 years.

What is a Chinchilla?

Chinchillas are small and social rodents. They are native to the burrows in the Andes mountains of South America. They live in colonies that are called herds.

There are two species of Chinchillas.  Short-tailed and long-tailed. Mostly, long-tailed chinchillas are kept as pets.

Visually, they have a dense grey coat. But now they have a variety of colors. Chinchillas have long fluffy tails.

They also have fleshy foot pads. Chinchillas can live between 10 to 20 years.

Degus as pets

Degus are very handy pets. They require time, attention, and care. In the case of degus, they love to explore and play. Nothing makes them happier than this.

Degus can become tame easily with their pet owners who routinely interact with them.

However, degus are sensitive to sudden movements. So, it is important to handle them with great care.

In no time they become fond of belly rubs and scratches. It is advised that they should be picked up with great care and never by their tail.

You should always pick them up in a gentle, calm, and slow manner. They are keen explorers. So it’s a good idea to provide them with sufficient toys.

Chinchillas as pets

Chinchillas are more hand-off. They are quiet and shy. They are nocturnal animals. This means that they sleep during the daytime.

They are more active during dusk and dawn. This is of course the downside. Especially if you have children and they want to interact.

Moreover, Chinchillas are very cautious and skittish. They don’t like to be held at all.

With time, they can become familiar with their pet owners. But it requires patience and persistence.

So, with careful handling at a young age. They can become tame easily.

Now I am sharing the common differences between these two.

Lifespan: Chinchillas live longer than degus

Generally, a degu in captivity can live from 6 to 8 years. They can love even more if you provide them with proper care and a balanced diet.

In wild, their lifespan is one to four years. This is because of the predators that hunt them.

In the case of Chinchillas, they can live somewhere between 10 to 20 years. This lifespan also depends upon the care you provide them.

In wild, they for 8 to 10 years if they keep on escaping predators.

Chinchillas are long-lasting pets. But this doesn’t mean that Chinchillas are a better option. There are other things to consider like their size and personality.

Size: degus are smaller in size than Chinchillas

The average size of a degu is 25 to 30 centimeters from head to tail. So, they are 10 to 12 inches in length.

Their size is comparable to the body size of a hamster. If you buy a 7 to 8 weeks old degu, then it has already reached maturity.

But it will take several weeks to grow to its natural size.

The size of a chinchilla when they reach their full length is 9 to 15 inches. When they are born, they are the size of a golf ball.

However, after just 8 weeks they reach one-third of their original length. They are the size of a small house cat.

Cage size and setup:

For a degu cage setup, you have to create a habitat for two pets at least. The cage should be at least 24 by 18 by 24. This is the absolute minimum requirement

If you want to add more degus, you will need larger cages. You also have to provide them cages with levels. They should have ramps leading to different levels.

Proper Chinchilla cage setup, starts with the cage of the right size. You need a cage of 36 inches tall, 24 inches wide, and 24 inches long.

You need to expand their cage setup as they grow. Chinchillas will grow simply and they can also gain weight. Keep a couple together if you want to breed them.

Otherwise, keep them in separate cages to prevent fighting.

Chinchillas are large size pets. They grow much bigger than a degu. This may be a turnoff for those who want pocket pets. Chinchillas are nowhere the size of pocket pets.

Moreover, degus take less space as compared to Chinchilla.


Degus want a simple diet. They need a lot of hay and pellets. They also need all types of vegetables but no fruits. Their digestive system can’t digest these types of food.

As they are rodents so they need to chew something all the time. They require a lot of wood sticks, cardboard, and plenty of hay.

Chinchillas eat food similar to degus. Only one exception is present. They love eating fresh herbs, flowers, and some fruits also.

They eat dried fruits, nuts, and a lot of hay. They also need Chinchilla pellets.

So, a degu is a rodent that needs a simple and basic diet. However, owning a Chinchilla is a bit expensive.

See also  Where Can I Buy A Chinchilla? ( Find out!)

Also, Chinchillas eat more as they grow. So, if you want a pet that doesn’t eat much, then go for a degu.


There is always a difference between the personalities of these two rodents. They both can be skittish sometimes. They are alert to all the noises they hear.

It is their simple nature to worry about predators.

Bond with pet owners

Degus take time to make a bond with you. First of all, you need to earn their trust. After several repetitive meetings, they will not consider you a threat.

After that, they will expect your visits every day and will also want a treat. They can easily become nervous about the new people. But this requires time and patience.

Making a bond with Chinchillas is easy. When your Chinchilla bond with you finally, they will show you how they become happy when you enter their room.

In many ways, he will show you that he needs your attention and handling.

Prices to buy:

Degus are much cheaper than Chinchillas. A degu costs around $20 to 100$ USD. It requires an additional 5$ per month for maintenance. The setup cost is about USD 250.

You can buy a Chinchilla for a price between $80 to USD 400. The cage start-up cost is about USD 300.

A Chinchilla costs about 10$ a month to feed them. These expenses make Chinchillas more expensive in the long run.

But if you manage your expenses in the right way, and buy items from sale for Chinchilla. You might shave off supplement costs.

Degus are less expensive than Chinchillas. They require a little bit more maintenance.


When it comes to caring for chinchillas, one of the most common problems among them is bumblefoot. This can happen in habitats when they are not kept clean.

They also have problems with fur slippage and shedding, if they get nervous. Moreover, if you have to take them to the vet in case of emergency, it will be expensive.

Degus are less prone to health diseases. But this doesn’t mean they don’t have problems. They also suffer from cataracts, diabetes, etc.

They will get nervous if their cage is small. They will show this in certain ways like chewing their cage.

Both pets are expensive in the case of an emergency. This can cost up to 200$ when you take them to the vet.

Sleep patterns

Chinchillas sleep more than degus. The average chin sleeps for about 11 to 14 hours. They are notorious for sleeping all day long. Moreover, they sleep during day time.

Degus are a bit different when it comes to sleeping patterns. They need only 9 hours of sleep throughout the day and night. Moreover, they sleep during the night time and stay awake during day time.

Advantages of the degu

  • Easy to clean
  • Intelligent and clumsy
  • Affectionate
  • Easy to take care of

Advantages of Chinchilla

  • Easy to clean
  • Low maintenance
  • Long lifespan
  • Friendly and affectionate
  • Easy baths

Should you own a Chinchilla or degu

Whether you want to own a chinchilla or a degu, depends upon your requirements and priorities.

Both pets are good according to their nature. It depends entirely on your needs and what suits you best.

I am listing a few of the facts that you have to keep in mind while choosing your pet.

Do you have children?

Degus are quirkier and social animals. They tame easily with humans.

So, if you are looking for a pet that can interact with children, especially younger children. Then, degu is the more appropriate option.

How much interaction do you want?

Degus are diurnal whereas Chinchillas are nocturnal. This means that degus remain active during the daytime. Chinchillas remain active during nighttime.

So, it depends upon you how much time you can spend with your pet and choose accordingly.

Space you can afford

Degus are small animals and thus they require less space. However, Chinchillas require a quiet, temperature-controlled room. Can you provide them with this space?

If yes, then don’t mind owning a Chinchilla.


Which one is hypoallergenic?

Chinchillas are hypoallergenic animals. This doesn’t mean that they don’t produce allergies at all. But they are suitable for those people who are prone to allergies.

Degus on the other hand are not hypoallergenic. They create a messy environment which can cause a problem for people who have allergies.

Can degus eat Chinchilla pellets?

The pellets that are made up of Chinchilla should not be given to degus. This is because some Chinchilla pellet mix- contains pieces of dry fruits.

Degus are prone to diabetes, so sugary food is not good for them. You should provide them with food that contains dried herbs, grasses, and dried vegetables.

Can Chinchillas and degus interact with each other?

Chinchillas and degus can interact with each other. Although, it requires a lot of time and patience. At first, your both pets can get stressed after finding a new animal near them.

So I would not suggest you interact with both of them. It is better to provide them companions of their own species.


Chinchillas and degus, both are rodents and have many similarities. Still, there are many differences to note before deciding to own one of them.

Degus are small, intelligent, and social creatures. They are 12 to 14 inches in length.

 Chinchillas are small rodents. They are quiet and shy. These nocturnal animals are the size of a housecat.

Chinchillas have a longer lifespan than degus. They can live up to 20 years sometimes.

If we talk about size, Chinchillas are 10 to 15 inches in length whereas degus are 10 inches.

Degus require a simple and small cage. All they require is different levels of cage.

Chinchillas, however, require a proper cage setup. They need a lot of space.

The Diet of degus is entirely on hay, vegetables, and pellets.

Chinchilla’s diet is also similar to degus. However, they also eat fruits and nuts.

So, do check on your requirements before owning. Whether you want to interact more with them or less, do you have younger children or not.

No matter if you choose degu or Chinchilla, take care of them and enjoy with your pet. Both pets are social and intelligent.

Research Link

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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