July 27, 2022 by Umair Shahid
Many people believe that degus need a complex diet. This is simply not true. Degus eat a simple diet.
Whenever you eat something good, you might think about sharing the food with your pet. But keep in mind that it can do more harm than good.
What can degus eat?
Everything that suits you, doesn’t suit your pet. Degus are herbivores. In the wild, 60% of the diet consists of dietary fiber.
The other 40% consists of other natural vegetation. They also feed on grasses, leaves, and seeds.
In captivity, they are not very demanding when it comes to their diet. The only thing you should be aware of is to avoid giving them frequent treats.
It doesn’t mean that your degu only needs pellets or hay. They require more than hay and pellets for their healthy life.
They need the necessary fibers, vitamins, and minerals in their food. You will learn through this article what degus eat in captivity. When and how much do you have to feed them.
Moreover, you will learn how to keep them happy and healthy through their diet. So, this article is ready to provide you with tons of information.
The hard feed of your degu should be in the form of either a dried mix or pellets. It is highly recommended that your degu should eat a guinea pig high-quality diet.
Or you can give them degu specific diet that doesn’t contain any harmful substances.
The incidence of diabetes and cataract will be greatly reduced if you give them a diet that doesn’t contain molasses and is low in sugar.
Some pet owners feed them Chinchilla pellets or a mixture of Guinea pig food with them. This is completely safe for degus.
However, avoid giving them Chinchilla mix food. These may contain dried pieces of fruits. Fruit is not suitable for degus at all.
Hay is sometimes used as a bedding material. But it is a primary source of food for degus. 80% of the degu’s diet consists of good quality hay.
It is the major source of fibers in the degu’s diet. It is important to keep their gut function normal.
Degus are rodents. They have continuously growing teeth. They need something to chew all the time. Hay is one of the most important sources of chewing for them.
They chew hours on the hay and wear their molar teeth. You have to provide them with good quality hay like meadow hay or Timothy hay.
Make sure that the hay is not pink, green, or white. Green hay will lead to bloating. Pink or white hay represents that the hay contains mold.
The best hay has a sweet smell and brown color. Besides meadow and Timothy hay, there are other types as well.
Lucerne and alfalfa hay are also good options. But alfalfa hay should be given occasionally.
Alfalfa hay is rich in proteins, energy, minerals, and vitamins. Too much of this hay can lead to kidney problems.
So, I would recommend you to give alfalfa hay in moderation. Also, mix Timothy hay or meadow hay with it.
Degus can’t survive on hay alone. They also need pellets that contain the right amount of nutrients.
A good quality pellet for degus contains a low amount of proteins( less than 15%), fat( less than 4%), and sugar( less than 5%). It should contain a high amount of fibers (15% or more).
Now degus are becoming popular pet pockets. So, degus pellets have been developed to meet the nutritional requirements of degus.
Supreme pet foods have special kinds of degu pellets that contain the right amount of all essential nutrients. Versele-Laga also provide pellet food for degus and Chinchillas.
If you don’t have degu pellets. Don’t worry I have come up with another alternative. You can give them guinea pig pellets or Chinchilla pellets.
You can even give a mixture of both. These pellets have the right amount of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Don’t give Chinchilla or guinea pig mix- these contain dried pieces of fruits. Those pieces have a high amount of sugar content.
Fresh vegetables and herbs
Vegetables and herbs are also an important option to give to your degu. They contain essential amino acids and fatty acids that are necessary for degus.
All vegetables should not be given to degus. They can cause bloating and digestive problems if given daily.
Leafy vegetables can be given daily. These include chicory, lettuce, celery, radishes, and endives.
You can also give dried herbs to them daily. These include mint, basil, parsley, coriander, etc.
Other kinds of fresh herbs and vegetables like broccoli, Brussels, sprouts, cabbage, and asparagus should be given once a week.
Degus in the wild live in an arid environment. They can survive a lot of time without water. But in captivity, it is advised to give them plenty of water all the time.
A single degu drinks about 500 ml of water per month. But still, it depends upon the temperature and exercise levels.
You have two options to provide them with water. You can use a water bottle or water dish.
I would recommend you use a water bottle. Attach it outside the cage. This way your degu will not be able to chew the water bottle.
Plastic water bottles are appropriate and easy to clean. but these are less hygienic than glass bottles.
Water bottles and dishes are available online and in stores. Dishes are available but are not a good way to give them water.
The dishes will be tipped over if they’re not heavy. Moreover, these will be filled with urine, feces, and substrate.
From a hygienic point, water dishes are not a good option. That’s why I recommend you to use water bottles.
Everybody loves to eat treats. The same is the case with degus. Since treats should not be given too often and too much to degus. Degus are prone to diabetes.
So, it’s very important to limit their treats and try to offer them healthy treats.
The most common treats for degus include sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, whole nuts, and peanuts.
Seeds and nuts are rich in fat and protein. Too much fat and protein can cause kidney and liver damage in them. That’s the reason you should limit their treats to once or twice per week.
If you want to give them healthy treats, there are still a lot of options.
- Dry crispbreads
Crispbreads like crackers are packed with a high amount of fibers. Moreover, they are hard enough to wear their teeth.
- Dried herbs
Dried herbs cannot only be added to their regular diet. You can also serve them as treat. Dried mixed herbs that contain dandelion, parsley, etc will be readily eaten by degus.
Vitamins and minerals supplements
Degus unlike guinea pigs can synthesize their own vitamin C. Thus they don’t need it in their diet.
However, vitamin C prevents heart diseases, cataracts, and cancer in the degus. Vitamin supplements will give an extra push to your degus to prevent diseases.
Vitamin supplements are available in different forms like powder. Some pellets also contain vitamin supplements.
If your degu’s pellets don’t contain vitamin C, then you can also give them vitamin C naturally.
You can do this by giving them broccoli, red peppers, rosehips, and parsley.
Foods that are rich in carbohydrates and sugars should be avoided. If there is anything that you need to know about degu’s diet is that you should avoid sugar and carbs.
Degus are prone to diabetes and the diabetic degus don’t lead a long life. The following sugar-rich foods should be avoided.
Most fruits have high sugar content. After eating these, there will be an increase in their blood sugar level.
Since degus are prone to diabetes, so you should avoid foods that have high sugar content and fruits are a good example.
Some people suggest giving fruits as a treat to degus but I would not recommend this at all.
Breakfast cereals are made for humans and even for humans, they contain too much sugar.
Don’t dare to give them cereals as this will affect their health badly.
Resins and molasses
Pellet foods and rodent mix sometimes contain molasses and resins. Both of these are rich in sugar.
So, avoid giving them resins and molasses-based pellets too. Check their pellet food and make sure that they don’t contain any of them.
Although bread doesn’t contain a lot of sugar content. But it is rich in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are eventually converted into sugars in degu’s body.
So carb-rich foods should also be avoided.
Other foods to avoid
Foods that contain caffeine/ theobromine
Caffeine is now considered a part of our lifestyle. These two products are present in our variety of drinks.
Chocolate also contains theobromine that is related to caffeine. Caffeine and theobromine are dangerous for small and large pets.
Don’t offer them any foods or drinks that contain these compounds. These can quickly lead to poisoning
Foods that contain artificial coloring
Artificial colors don’t affect your degu’s health directly. However, some researchers say that artificial colors can cause liver and kidney problems in them.
Artificial colors are only used to please degus. So, it’s best to avoid them.
Vegetables that are rich in starch and sugar
Vegetables like carrots, peas, pumpkins, and tomatoes are rich in sugar and starch. They can put your degu’s life in danger.
Garlic, onion, chives, leeks
Garlic and other foods belonging to the Avium family are toxic for all small pets. Ingesting these foods will lead to poisoning.
The poisoning may take some time. So, if you degu has accidentally ingested any of these compounds. Immediately take them to the vet.
People Also Ask
Can degus eat rabbits’ food?
Most rabbit foods contain a chemical called coccidiostat. Coccidiostat prevents parasite infection in rabbits.
But this chemical is toxic for degus. Besides this, rabbits’ food doesn’t contain all the essential minerals and vitamins required for degus.
So, don’t give rabbits food to degus.
Can degus eat carrots?
Carrots are vegetables that contain high sugar content. They contain 4.7grams of sugar per 100 grams.
You should avoid giving them food that is high in sugar. As degus are prone to diabetes. High sugar foods will cause diabetes in them.
If you only feed them a few pieces per month, then the risk of diabetes will be minimal. If your pet already has diabetes, don’t give them carrots at all.
Do degus avoid eating things that are bad for them?
No, degus will eat everything that comes on its way. They don’t know that any particular thing could cause harm to them.
They will even eat sugary foods and toxic substances. They smell something. If that is edible and is rewarding for them. They will eat it in a single go.
Degus eat a simple and basic diet. You don’t have to provide specific and expensive foods.
Degus have a basic diet that contains hay, pellets, and vegetables.
Hay makes up 60% of their diet. Hay provides them with 80% of the fiber that they require daily. Moreover, hay is rich in fibers.
It is used as a bedding material but it is the primary source of food for degus.
The other important component of their food is pellets. As degus have become popular pocket pets now. specialized degu pellets are available for them now.
If you don’t find them, you can use Chinchilla pellets or guinea pig pellets. However, don’t use Chinchilla or degu mix- they contain dried pieces of fruits.
Fruits are high in sugar content and should be avoided.
Fresh vegetables and herbs are also included in the main diet of degus. You can also use dried herbs.
Leafy vegetables can be added to their regular diet. Vegetables rich in sugar should be avoided
Treats of degus include sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, whole nuts, and peanuts.
Water should be available to them all the time. One degu drinks about 500 ml per month. Still, it depends upon temperature and other conditions.
The foods you should avoid include fruits, bread, resin and molasses, and breakfast cereals.
Other foods you should avoid include foods that contain caffeine or theobromine.
Artificial colors containing fruits should also be avoided. Garlic, onions, and leeks should also be avoided.
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.