Degus, small rodents native to South America, have become increasingly popular as pets due to their charming personalities and unique behaviors. These intelligent and social creatures require special care to ensure they lead healthy and happy lives as your cherished companions. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the intricacies of degu care, covering everything from their physical characteristics to veterinary care.
1. Physical characteristics:
Degus possess distinctive features that set them apart from other small pets.
- Size: Degus typically measure around 6 to 7 inches in length with a furry tail that’s about the same length as their body.
- Coat: They have soft fur with varying shades of brown and yellow, often featuring a white underbelly.
- Eyes and Ears: Degus have large, expressive eyes and small, rounded ears.
- Teeth: Like other rodents, degus have continuously growing incisors that require chewing to prevent overgrowth.
2. Environmental conditions:
Creating the right environment for your degus is essential for their well-being.
- Temperature: Maintain a consistent room temperature between 18 to 24°C (65 to 75°F) to keep your degus comfortable.
- Cage Location: Place their cage away from direct sunlight and drafts. Degus are sensitive to temperature fluctuations.
- Ventilation: Ensure good airflow in their living space, but avoid exposing them to cold drafts.
Degus have specific dietary requirements to stay healthy.
- Diet Composition: Provide a high-quality degu pellet food mix that meets their nutritional needs. Avoid sugary or fatty treats.
- Fresh Hay: Offer fresh hay as a primary source of fiber, which aids in digestion and dental health.
- Fresh Vegetables: Supplement their diet with fresh vegetables like carrots, broccoli, and leafy greens to provide essential vitamins and minerals.
- Fresh Water: Always provide clean, fresh water in a sipper bottle. Ensure the water source is accessible but not prone to contamination.
Selecting the right cage and accessories is vital for your degu’s happiness.
- Cage Size: Opt for a spacious cage with multiple levels or platforms to encourage exploration and exercise. A larger cage, at least 10 gallons in volume, is ideal for a pair of degus.
- Substrate: Line the cage with a safe and dust-free substrate like aspen bedding or paper-based bedding.
- Accessories: Include a degu-safe exercise wheel, tunnels, hides, and wooden chew toys to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
Maintaining proper hygiene practices will ensure your degu’s well-being.
- Cage Cleaning: Clean and change the bedding regularly to prevent odors and maintain a hygienic living environment.
- Grooming: Degus are adept at grooming themselves, but you can assist by providing a small container of chinchilla sand for them to roll in occasionally. This helps keep their fur clean and healthy.
Understanding degu behavior is essential for their happiness.
- Social Creatures: Degus are highly social animals and thrive in pairs or small groups. They enjoy companionship and interaction with their fellow degus.
- Activity: Degus are active and curious, so provide ample opportunities for exploration and play. A degu-safe exercise wheel, tunnels, and climbing structures are great additions to their environment.
7. Veterinary care:
Regular veterinary checkups are essential to monitor your degu’s health.
- Annual Checkups: Schedule annual visits to an exotic animal veterinarian familiar with degus. Regular checkups can help detect and address health issues early.
- Signs of Illness: Be vigilant for signs of illness, including changes in appetite, behavior, or appearance. Seek prompt veterinary care if you notice any abnormalities.