Degus as pets: Peculiarities of rodents
Degus only established themselves as pets in this country in the 1980s. The cute rodents are quite demanding to keep, but they are also a lot of fun. Read more about keeping degus here.
Degus are extremely social and cuddly animals that should only ever be kept in groups – Shutterstock/Kelly Postma
Compared to other rodents such as guinea pigs or hamsters, degus are still relatively unknown as pets. If you want to get degus as pets, you should definitely know what species-appropriate keeping looks like.
Keep degus as pets: Always in a group
Degus are pack animals that should never be kept as pets without others of their own species, otherwise they would become lonely and die. Therefore keep at least two, ideally three to five animals in the enclosure. Degus are extremely social and only really happy when they are in company. It is particularly exciting for us humans to watch the rodents cuddling, playing and cleaning each other with their fellow rodents.
Ranking battles are perfectly normal in degus and nothing to worry about. Especially in larger groups, the pecking order is determined again and again. A special feature of the animals from Chile: In contrast to most other rodents, they are diurnal.
Degu enclosures should be large and versatile
If you keep degus as pets, you need a large, species-appropriate enclosure. Since the agile pom-poms can also chew on hard materials, you should think about a large cage with metal struts or a glass terrarium. Plan at least one to two square meters of floor space for a smaller group. At best, the degu enclosure has several floors connected with branches, bridges and stairs. It is important that you put together an enclosure that is as creative as possible, otherwise the curious animals will quickly become bored. The basic equipment includes:
• Stable feeding bowl
• Sand bath (for grooming)
• Litter for small animals
• Hay Rack
• Dormitory or dormitories made of strong material such as stone
• Creative furnishings and play elements such as pipes, ceramic caves, corridors, wheels (big enough please!) and climbing possibilities
Important: It is best to avoid using plastic furniture at all, as these are easily nibbled on by animals that like to gnaw – small sharp parts can be swallowed in the process. If you use wooden interiors, you need to be aware that you will need to replace the particular item over time as degus are really, really fond of gnawing. The video shows you more about enclosures and husbandry:
More tips on keeping: diet and employment
Before purchasing, you should definitely deal with the species-appropriate diet of degus. They feed mainly on green fodder. Hay should always be available. Herbs and grasses are also an important part of the degu diet. In addition, the small mammals love hard roots, which they also use to care for their teeth. You are also welcome to feed a carrot a day, but you should make sure that the vegetables from the supermarket are free of harmful substances. Organic vegetables are important as degus are very sensitive to pesticides and herbicides. Since the animals are prone to diabetes, it is best to avoid fruit and any added sugar. Grains are allowed in small amounts, but should only make up a small portion of the degu’s diet.
In the video you can see what degus are happy about when it comes to employment:
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