Degus belongs to the rodent family. They are very friendly and intelligent pets when compared to other rodents. They are hassle free and demand less maintenance. Some people compare the degu to chinchillas, squirrels and even gerbils. But they are very different.
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Taking a Look at Having Degus as Pets
Degus have a tweed brown color and have a long tail with brush like hair at the end. The tail is nearly one to two third of the body’s length. They use it to maintain balance while climbing and while walking they keep it in the upright position.
Their belly is cream color and there are circles around their eyes. Their ears are surprisingly big as well as their whiskers. Degus slow down the growth of their claws by nibbling on them, so their claws don’t require grooming.
The Degus forelimbs are longer than their hind limbs. They are born with yellow teeth that turn orange after reacting to the chlorophyll present in plants. Which also turns their saliva orange.
Originally from Chile
They are originally found in Chile and are exported to other countries. There are some import restrictions on degus in America, so it is uncommon to find degus in pet shops there.
But degus can be found in pet stores, all over Europe. Initially other countries brought them in not as exotic pets but to conduct laboratory experiments. They do not have the ability to digest sugar, so they were used to test diabetes.
When young, a degus size can be compared to hamsters and when they grow to their full size they can be compared to hamsters. They grow to full size within a few months, so all their equipment should be bought with that in mind.
Degus Need a Big Cage
The cage should be big and must have a running wheel. Their average body weight is 160 to 230 grams when they grow into full adulthood.
Degus are very playful animals and lots of toys are generally kept in their cage. Baby degus do not fight at all and are always involved in playing. It would be a bad idea to keep their cage in the bedroom, as they will keep people awake with all the noise they make.
Although degus are active primarily in the daytime, they only sleep for short periods. So chances are that they will stay awake for a few hours at night. They are at the peak of their activity in the mornings and evenings and otherwise, shut their eyes very little.
They Are Very Sociable and Not Afraid
Since they are very sociable and not afraid of humans, it is recommended never to keep degus alone. They should be kept, at least, in pairs. If they are kept alone, their life expectancy decreases and they get really depressed, in spite of human attention. They also become aggressive.
Degus have the tendency to shed their tails in defense when animals attack them. So it is recommended that you never tug their tails. The tail will bleed and nearly half of it dies slowly and falls off or gets chewed off by the degu.
Even worse is that the tail doesn’t grow back. Degus don’t like to be held very tightly or for a long time. Never lift them from the top as they have the natural tendency of getting scared. This is because degus in the wild get carried away by birds.
Degus Can Be Trained
Owners can gain familiarity by stretching out their palms and calling out to them calmly. The degus develop voice familiarity and can be trained to climb onto the palms of their owners.
In the wild, most degus can typically live up to a year. While less than one percent live up to two years. But in captivity, they can live up to five years or more. Females, who live with males, will die sooner. This is because they become weaker due to constant pregnancies.
Their pregnancy periods last for eighty seven to ninety three days. Therefore, it is recommended that members of the same gender should be kept together as pets. If an owner is interested in breeding degus, opposite genders can be kept together. But they should be careful about not exhausting the female with regular pregnancies. Also keep in mind, that they shouldn’t bear a pup more than once a year.
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