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Other name(s): Common Degu; Brush-Tailed Rat; Trumpet-Tailed Rat

Scientific name: Octodon degus

The basics:
Although somewhat squirrel-like in appearance, the Degu is actually related to guinea pigs and chinchillas, and shares many of the characteristics that have made them popular pets. Other than being a bit heat-sensitive, Degus are very hardy, and most are quick to accept human companionship.

Degus are found in central Chile, South America, where they in inhabit open thorn scrub habitats and dry, brushy grasslands.

Appearance / health:
Degus are stoutly-built, measuring 9-12.5 inches in length (with tail) and weighing 8-15 ounces. They are somberly-clad in yellowish-brown fur and have cream-colored underparts and yellow fur about the eyes and neck.

The average lifespan is 6-10 years. They metabolize sugar poorly, and contract diabetes when fed fruit or other high-sugar foods. Degus must be provided with sand-bathing facilities (see below) in order for the fur to remain in good condition. Like all rodents, they must be provided with daily gnawing opportunities, as their front teeth grow throughout life.

Behavior / temperament:
Degu are by nature very social , and usually readily accept human contact and handling. They are active by day, and seem always to be exploring, foraging or interacting. New owners should seek advice on proper handling, as Degus shed their tails if grabbed improperly, and will bite when distressed. Single animals do not fare well, as they are colonial by nature.

A multi-level commercial wire Degu cage or custom/homemade enclosure of at least 3x4x3 feet (L x W x H) , but preferably larger, makes a good home for a pair of Degus. Frequent exercise time in a Degu-safe room is appreciated. The cage should be furnished with shelves, PVC tubes, nest boxes, an exercise wheel, and dog bones and rodent-safe wood to gnaw. Aspen or other hardwood shavings may be used on the cage bottom. In order to keep their fur in a healthy, clean state, Degus should have access to a pan filled with commercial “Chinchilla Dust” for 30 minutes, 2-3 times weekly.

Degus are best kept at 65-72 F, and are intolerant of sustained temperatures above 82-85 F.

A high-fiber diet is essential. A Degu’s diet should be comprised of commercial Guinea Pig and/or Degu pellets and dry, brown Timothy (or “meadow”) hay. Pellets should not be offered free-choice, as hay is then often ignored (hay provides essential roughage and helps wear-down the teeth). A 2’ square piece of yam or carrot may be offered 2-3 x weekly if desired. Vitamin/mineral supplements should be used per manufacturer’s recommendations.

Sexual maturity is reached by age 2.5-3 months. Female Degus give birth to 3-11 young 90 days after mating, and wean them at age 4-6 weeks.

Written by Frank Indiviglio


favourite rodent, loving pet, sociable, cutest little things, fab little critters, pretty smart


no-sugar diet, loud, strong smelling urine, nasty bite, vets bills, incessant nighttime wheel, diabetes


standard bar wheel, weekly dust bath, timothy hay, pumice stone, active exotic mammal, poo schrapnel

Helpful Degu Review


From masihkap Feb 16 2019 12:44AM


Degu Health Tip


From Patia03 Jan 8 2017 3:14PM


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