Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic

2826 HWY 2
Bowmanville, ON L1C 3K5

(905)623-4431

www.bowmanvilleveterinaryclinic.com

TAKING CARE OF YOUR DEGU

 

The degu (Octodon Degus)  is native to the western foothills of the Andes.  It is the most prolific mammal in Chile, where it is considered an agricultural pest.  Since their importation into the US in 1964, degus have become a popular subject of research in the areas of diabetes, cataracts, and circadian behavior.  Studies have shown that degus are social, long-lived and have a low incidence of disease, traits that make them outstanding pets.

 

Average lifespan: 5-8 years

Maximum lifespan: 10 years

Age sexual maturity: 3-4 months

Breeding season: year-round

Gestation: 87-93 days

Litter size: 1-10 pups

Weaning: 4-6 weeks

Litters per year: 2-3

 

CLASSIFICATION

Degus are rodents belonging to the suborder Hystricognathi (“porcupine-like rodents”) based upon jaw musculature and skull structure.  They belong to the family Octodontidae.  Octodon refers to the “figure 8” shape of their cheek teeth.  Other names for the degu include brush-tailed rat and trumpet-tailed rat.

 

ANATOMY/PHYSIOLOGY

Degus resemble large gerbils and are dark grayish-brown with a dark brush on the tip of the tail.  Their pupils are elliptical.  The kidneys produce urine that is normally yellow and thick.  They have five toes on each foot.

 

BEHAVIOR

Degus are diurnal and do not hibernate. They dig elaborate burrows, are highly social and communicate via vocalization and postures.  If degus are not given social interaction and physical stimuli, they may become aggressive or self-mutilate.  Fighting is rare even when new introductions occur.  They enjoy human interaction.

ANNUAL CHECKUP

A complete physical examination, review of diet and husbandry and fecal analysis are recommended on an annual basis.