In detail

The Degu - Wanted Poster


Surname: Degu
Other names: Shrub rat
Latin name: Octodon Degus
class: Mammals
size: 11 - 16cm
mass: 200 - 280g
Older: 3 - 8 years
Appearance: brownish color variants
Sexual dimorphism: Yes
Nutrition type: Seed eater (granivor)
food: Seeds
distribution: Argentina, Chile
original origin: South America
Sleep-wake rhythm: diurnal
habitat: Semi-deserts
natural enemies: Birds of prey, fox
sexual maturity: with 6 months
mating season: August - October
gestation: 3 months
litter size: 1 - 10 cubs
social behavior: Family Association
Threatened with extinction: No
Further profiles of animals can be found in the Encyclopaedia.

Interesting facts about the degu

  • The Degu is a small rodent of the shrub species that lives exclusively in Chile in the wild and has enjoyed growing popularity as a pet worldwide for about ten years.
  • Degus are compact rodents that reach a body length of about thirty centimeters with the tail, the males are slightly larger and thicker than the females.
  • Her coat appears in a medium, slightly ocher brown tone. Belly and legs are covered with whitish fur, the rear feet have long bristles on the front. The sparsely hairy tail ends with a black elongated tassel.
  • The dark eyes and the thin-skinned, delicate and almost transparent ears give Degus her cute look, which makes her so attractive for pet ownership.
  • The tail of the Degu is extremely sensitive and can easily be damaged by injuries. The wounded area is thrown off, the animal itself gnawed to the bone and can not be regenerated. Degus, however, can live without problems with severely shortened tails.
  • These injuries are primarily attracted to Degus in the wild by attacks from predators such as birds of prey, foxes or snakes. The use of the tip of the tail serves as an effective tactic, so as not to fall prey to their attackers and escape quickly. In captivity, the loss of the tail can also be caused by incorrect handling by the owner or a hanging in the cage.
  • In the wild, Degus feed mainly on leaves, various seeds and young plant shoots that they store in their self-digged earthworks during the cold winter months.
  • Vegetable food is digested by the degu through the fermentation in the cecum. Like many other rodents, such as the hare, the degu picks up the droppings again, allowing them to digest a second time and fully absorb the nutrients it contains.
  • In contrast to many other smaller rodents, Degus propagate in the wild only once, rarely twice a year. During the mating season, the males behave very aggressively to all competitors within the group and like to mark the building of their chosen females with urine.
  • After a gestation period of an average of ninety days, the female gives birth to up to six young, already fully developed and nursing for only six weeks. Until they reach sexual maturity at the age of about six months, they often join separate-sex groups.
  • As pets, Degus are relatively undemanding, with the attitude being recommended in small groups or at least in pairs, as they are extremely sociable animals. They are intelligent, peaceful and curious and can be very friendly with loving attention. Since they like to move a lot, a large cage, preferably with many floors and retreat options should be chosen.
  • In captivity, Degus can reach an age of up to eight years if kept in an appropriate manner.