Are you considering adopting a degu? Native to Chile, these cute little furballs are becoming quite popular. Chatty and adorable, degus can live up to nine years with good care. A San Antonio, TX vet discusses degu care below.
Degus tend to be quite sweet, if a bit shy. They’re often happiest with roommates, though you can’t house males together. (Note: needless to say, housing boys and girls together may result in you having more pets than you bargained for.) Your tiny pal may take some time to warm up to you. Be very gentle when petting or handling him. Once the little guy decides that you’re safe, he may stand up excitedly when he sees you, and may even sit on your shoulder! It’s also worth noting that these guys have excellent vision, and can actually see UV light!
Like other pocket pets, degus need a roomy, comfy cage. Degu housing should be similar to chinchilla housing, in that they need multi-storied homes with lots of vertical space for climbing. Choose a cage that has solid floors on every level, as wire floors can cause injuries. You’ll also need to add a nesting box, toys, a solid exercise wheel, and a good substrate. Avoid pine and cedar-based substrates, as they actually aren’t safe for small pets. You’ll also want to include shredded tissue or paper towels for bedding.
Degus have open-rooted teeth, which means they will gnaw on anything and everything: otherwise, their teeth will get too long, which can lead to painful dental issues. You can offer chew toys made for bunnies, or make your own. Plain wood blocks and shapes are a good bet. Just don’t offer anything that has small parts or sharp edges, and/or is coated in varnish, stain, or dye.
Your degu will need regular baths, but not the soap-and-water kind. You’ll need to provide your little buddy a dust bath. Chinchilla dust is fine. Your pet will roll around in the dust, which will soak up dirt and oil. (Note: this is adorable to watch).
As far as food, you can offer degu or Guinea pig food, supplemented with seeds and nuts. Take care not to offer too much sugar! Ask your vet for specific advice.
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