Degu Care - How To Take Care Of A Degu Pet?
If you’ve ever seen a degu, you would likely be immediately smitten by their warm personality and cute look. Degus are a type of burrowing rodent that is native to Chile. In the wild, degus will live in packs of up to 100. Due to their sweet temperament, these animals have been gaining popularity as household pets.
Part of the appeal of a degu as a pet is that, unlike many types of rodents, they aren’t nocturnal. They’ll likely learn your routine too, and not keep you up at night on their exercise wheel. They are lovers of social interaction, playtime, cuddles, and even exercise. Their behavior combined with their relatively small size make them a wonderful pet option for many different types of homes. Degu pet care is relatively easy too, which is an added advantage.
How Long Do Degus Live?
Degu care is like any other household pet care. They have some specific requirements for their large cage, like a nesting box, and require certain foods. With good hygiene and care, the degu lifespan ranges between five to eight years.
Degu Pet Behavior & Temperament
Due to their notoriously warm and affectionate nature, if you raise a degu from a young age, most likely, your pet will come to you freely and even request some belly scratches. In order to ensure calm temperament, it’s recommended that these pets be housed in same-sex pairs. These animals are naturally playful and social, but without the proper outlets to express those natural tendencies, they can become more aggressive. Willow balls like those used for parrots and rabbits tend to work well for playtime with these cute pets.
Degus will talk to you through chitter-chatter sounds, which can be quite fun and cute. While the degu animal is naturally friendly, it’s important to know the signs your pet gives you that it is uncomfortable. They’ll usually screech when they feel threatened, though they rarely bite.
How to Know if Your Degu is Healthy
Before adding a new pet to your household, try to brush up on degu facts so you can be prepared. Your vet can likely provide a degu care guide or a degu care sheet to help you care for your pet, but here are some pointers to look for to understand if your new friend is healthy:
- Clear, bright eyes
- Shiny fur
- A healthy appetite
- High energy (unless sleeping, of course!)
- Clean, dry rear end (with no signs of diarrhea)
If you are wondering how to take care of a degu, then it’s best to start with its cage. Degu cages should be made out of metal because they can easily chew through other materials like wood and plastic. The larger the cage, the better. Try looking at a multilevel cage made for more common animals like a ferret.
These furry friends are active, and both love and physically need exercise. Be sure your degu’s housing allows for proper exercises, like an exercise wheel. They are nesters, and it’s crucial to provide them with the proper nesting materials within their living space. Proper nesting material includes hay, paper, and paper towels.
The key to a healthy degu pet is proper nutrition. Because this is a more rare household pet than say a cat or a dog, it’s important to know what is required to remain healthy. Degu food should be low in carbs but high in roughage. A good source of food is guinea pig pellets, alfalfa, and fresh vegetables like carrots, green beans, and sweet potatoes.
Just like any household pet, your degu needs fresh water available at all times. This is easy to implement by keeping a fresh water dish easily accessible at all times.
Purchasing Your Degu
First, it’s always a good idea to check your local community to see if there are any of these furry creatures available for adoption. Degu prices can range anywhere from $25 to $100 if you buy from a breeder. Some pet stores might have them available too, so do a little research to find the best place to get one in your area.
As with any animal, take a careful look at the degu before taking it home. Be sure it looks healthy, happy, and that it has been living in a clean environment.
How to hold a Degu
It’s wise to learn a little about properly holding a degu before reaching in for the first time and grabbing it. To hold your pet:
- Lift gently while supporting the hind legs
- They like to be cupped in your hands, but don’t want to be fully enclosed
- These creatures will likely love to sit on your lap or chest without being restrained.
- The more you get to know one another, play, and create a safe space the better the chances your pet will feel comfortable being held
You should consider an insurance health plan for exotics. Knowing you are covered for medications and emergencies can provide you with valuable peace of mind. In general, degus are healthy animals and shouldn’t require too much care. Still, they may be susceptible to the following issues:
- Bumblefoot: This is a kind of infection that causes foot sores
- Mouth and dental issues: be sure your pet has safe, chewable toys to play with
- Diabetes: implement a healthy diet and exercise routine
With a proper living space, good hygiene, and the right diet and exercise, you can ensure your degu enjoys a happy and healthy life.