Acquired: Pet store
Posted Oct 16, 2014
I received a hamster for my 10th birthday, and was devastated when he got sick and passed away less than a week after he came to me. To ease my heartbreak, my parent's decided to try a more 'hearty' animal. They went to the pet store, and the clerk recommended a Degu. Having never heard of it, they did some research, and ultimately decided to give it a try!!
I was so excited to take my Degu home. I called him Mickey because he looked like Mickey Mouse! He was a lot more active than my hamster had been, and not as timid. Mickey quickly stole my heart, he was so social! He would run to the side of his cage and put his nose up for me to rub under his chin like a cat! Degus LOVE to eat raw peanuts and raw carrots, but they should NEVER have sugar as it is very toxic to them. Degus are very smart, and Mickey was even able to learn some tricks. I would hold him in my hand and say BANG - and he would fall over!! He did bite a few times - and it hurts a lot more than a hamster bite, but he was very friendly with familiar people in familiar situations. I learned a lot about Degus when I got Mickey, by reading books and surfing online. I learned that a Degu's defense mechanism in the wild is to shed their tail if they get caught by a larger animal! They are relatively easy to care for, with similar habitats to a hamster, wood shavings and alfalfa are a must. One of the interesting parts about caring for a Degu is the way they take a bath - it's not in water! There is a special 'dust' powder that they will roll around in and then shake off. It is quite entertaining!!
Overall, I would rate my experience with Mickey a 10/10. He lived until I was 18 years old (they can live more than 20 years in the wild!), and I was heartbroken when he passed. I would strongly recommend a Degu to anyone with school aged children, and anyone who has ever considered a guinea pig or a gerbil.