There are various brands of degus food, or degus & chinchilla food, and sometimes even degus / gerbil / hamster food on the market. While degus and chinchilla share many similarities, the other species have a much more distant diet. Most degus foods have pet-friendly formulas that focus on digestion and teeth. Unfortunately, this is mainly marketing, which does not take into account the particularities of the diet required by degus.
Diet of the degus
Octodon degus diet is a delicate and essential element of its health. A bad food, an unsuitable mixture can cause various pathologies, which can lead to the death of the individuals. Most of the related problems are dental in origin and often require complex operations. The risk of relapse is high if no changes are made quickly. In recent years, several studies have been carried out on degus and show how vital their nutrition is in captivity1.
To get a healthy pet, it is essential to offer it food adapted to its needs.
In the wild, the degu has access to many different sources of plant material. As a folivore, it eats mainly foliage from grasses and herbs, but also seeds. Occasionally, it may eat roots, bark and some fruits. It is intimately linked to its environment and actively participates in the health of ecosystems.
For more information, please read our article about the natural diet of the degu.
Degus require a very special diet, in line with their species. With the work of Vladimir Jekl’s team of veterinary researchers, members of the “degus-international” forum have studied the subject. This resulted in a few basic rules to follow.
One of the most important points in the diet of the Octodon degus is the calcium : phosphorus ratio. Indeed, this ratio helps keeping the rodent’s teeth healthy, as they grow continuously. On average, 60% of veterinary consultations have something to do with dental problems in the Octodon degus1. With a proper diet, it is possible to avoid and minimise such health problems2. The research team found that the minimum ratio should be 1:6:134.
This minimum must be achieved to ensure the health of the degu. The optimum level would be 1% to 1.2% total calcium, with a calcium:phosphorus ratio of 2:1.
The dietary characteristics of the octodon must also respect other rules, such as the levels of fibre, protein, fat and non-structural carbohydrates or NSC (the addition of the carbohydrate level and the starch level). Thus, octodons require a high level of digestible fibre and non-structural carbohydrates, with a medium level of protein and little crude fat.
Nutritional requirements of the Octodon degus :
|NSC||Fibre||Protein||Fat||Calcium||Phosphorus||Ca : P|
|⩽ 30 %||⩾ 25 %||15 % to 18 %||3 % to 7 %||1 % to 1, 2 %||0,5 %||1,6:1 minimum
Values expressed in % dry weight.
The NSC is calculated with the following formula: (Fibre + Protein + Fat + Ash + Minerals + Moisture) – 100: (Fibre + Protein + Fat + Ash + Minerals + Moisture ) – 100. Its value is not always exact, as some information is missing, so it is indicative.
|Name||% ENA||% Fiber||% Protein||% Fat||% Calcium||% Phosphore||Ratio C : P|
|Cunipic Naturaliss Chinchilla & Degus Complete||41||19-23||14||2||1,2-1,4||0,6||2,1 : 1|
|Versele-laga Crispy Pellets Chinchilla & Degus||41||20||16||3||1||0,5||02:01|
|Vadigran Terra degu - degu||43||22||14||3||0,96||0,47||2,04 : 1|
|Supreme science -Science Selective Degu or degu||47||15||14||4||1||0,5||02:01|
|Beaphar care+ degu||50||19||13||2,3||0,88||0,35||2,5 : 1|
|JR Farm Grainless Mix||-||-||13,4||-||0,9||0,4||2,25 : 1|
|Degu Dream Basic for degu||42,6||20||14,3||2,8||0,65||0,4||1,6 : 1|
|Witte Molen Puur Chinchilla and degu||45,9||20||13,6||2,4||0,5||0,3||1,6 : 1|
|Witte Molen Puur Muesli Chinchilla and degu||45,9||20||13,6||2,4||0,54||0,34||1,58 : 1|
|Versele-laga complete Chinchilla and Degu||42||20||17||3||0,8||0,6||1,33 : 1|
|Versele Laga Complete (Cavia Cuni junior, Chinchilla & degu)||44,6||20||14||3||0,8||0,6||1,33:1|
|Versele-Laga nature Degu||46,5||16||14,5||3||0,75||0,55||1,36 : 1|
|Riga - Degus Degu Mix||-||15,5||-||-||-||-||-|
|Cunipic Degu Complete food||58||8,45||14,99||5,64||-||-||-|
|JR Farm Degu Special||51,7||14,1||13,8||2,8||-||-||-|
|JR Farm Adult Degu Food||53,9||14,4||11,6||3,1||-||-||-|
|JR Farm Grainless Complete Degu||40,97||18,4||15,3||4,5||-||-||-|
|JR Farm Grainless Health Complete Chinchilla and Degu||45,6||21||11,9||3,6||-||-||-|
|JR Farm Grainless Herbs degus||41,7||19,2||15,7||4,7||-||-||-|
|JR Farm Regal||48,8||13,1||13,9||2,2||-||-||-|
|JR Farm Schmaus for degus||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Full meal Optima degu from Chile||49||13||15||2||-||-||-|
|Tyrol mix degu||45||17||15||4||-||-||-|
|Vitakraft premium menu vital degu||-||14||-||-||-||-||-|
|Zolux Nutrimeal Standard degus||57,24||9,9||11,46||3,4||-||-||-|
|SCHWEIZER - Food for Degus Nature||53,7||14,1||13,8||2,8||-||-||-|
|Cunipic Complete Food degu/degu||43,77||14,41||17,36||4,31||0,94||0,54||1,7 : 1|
|Zolux Nutrimeal degu||50||12,5||14,9||3||0,47||0,38||1,2 : 1|
|Zolux Nutrimeal mix degu||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
Some degus foods may be missing or partially present in this table. For any addition, please send us a picture of the characteristics and composition, as well as the brand of the food to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org . Thank you for your participation!
Currently, there are no feeds other than the SAB mix that are well suited to the real needs of the Octodon degus. There are a few brands that come close, but these contain ingredients that should be avoided, or NSC levels that are too high. Even if these levels can be added to the diet of the degus, they risk unbalancing the Calcium : Phosphorus ratio. Only a few brands stand out, with Cunipic Naturaliss Chinchilla & Degus Complete, which lacks fibre but is, to date, the best blend on the market, followed by Versele-laga Crispy Pellets Chinchilla & Degus and Vadigran Terra degu – Dègue. Finally, Supreme science – Science Selective Degu or octodon and Beaphar care+ Octodon extruded have correct ratios, but less Calcium and more carbohydrates.
If the SAB degu diet seems too complex to implement, the website team strongly recommends the Cunipic Naturaliss Chinchilla & Degus Complete mix, at 20g/d per degu.
Translation by Matthieu Selles.
- Diseases in pet degus: A retrospective study in 300 animals
- Impact of a high-phosphorus diet on the sonographic and CT appearance of kidneys in degus, and possible concurrence with dental problems
- Impact of pelleted diets with different mineral compositions on the crown size of mandibular cheek teeth and mandibular relative density in degus (Octodon degus)