Introducting Octodon degus
Octodon degus is a small rodent from the family Octodontidae. Originating from South America and more common in Chile, this rodent gained
appreciation as a house pet and is often considered an exotic pet. Octodon degus belongs to the degus group, which comprises 5 species. To date, Octodon degus is only one species of this group to be bred as a pet or laboratory animal.
What does Octodons degus look like?
Often confused with a gerbil, the degu remains bigger and chunkier. With its squirrel-like head and its chinchillas-like ears, its quickness and intelligence really stand out. Originally agouti, natural mutations were selected to obtain various colours such as sand or gray blue coats.
Etymologically, the generic term Octodon comes from the Greek: ‘okto’ which means ‘eight’ and ‘odus’ which means ‘tooth’. The degu is named after the shape of its teeth. Its molars and premolars are eight-shaped.
Inhabiting dry environments, degus are satisfied with very little. They live in what many humans would consider a difficult climate. Herbivore with folivore (leaf-eating) and granivore (seed-eating) tendencies, it mainly feeds on vegetal stems, seeds and occasionally roots. In captivity, maintaining a healthy diet for degus is a challenge. Industrial rodent feed is not a suitable source of nutrients for degus and causes health issues, in particular for their teeth.
The degu’s complex behaviours
The degu is naturally gregarious and needs to live with its peers to feel good. Just like groups of rabbits, every group of degus has several clans, generally a male and some females, grouped in burrows. The male builds mounds to establish dominance and its position in the group.
Degus are often sold in pet shops. But these small vivid rodents are not always the right choice of pet for young kids. Indeed, it is rather fearful and needs time to adapt to human contact. It is very rapid and does not like hugs and will tend to bite when squeezed a little too hard. Groups of degus will tend to violently fight each other and become aggressive if kept in bad conditions. Owner’s lack of knowledge is a main cause of abandonment. Though, degus are great everyday companions for well-educated owners who create good environments for them and their well-being.
Our aim, at World of Degus, is to provide you with a full introduction to this very special companion.. Many degus owners face issues managing the health or behavior of their pet that could be easily avoided, and can easily be fixed. Very little information about degus is available, and bad advice plagues the internet. At WorldOfDegus.com, we thrive to provide a site dedicated to this small animal with reliable sources based on scientific evidence. We want to share our knowledge so that your animal can live in the best conditions!