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How to differentiate the sex of the male or female degus?

To know how to make the difference between a male and a female octodon is essential. The Octodon degus does not present any sexual dimorphism allowing to know the sex quickly. Only the examination of its genital zone makes it possible to distinguish males and females.  Depending on the sex of the degus, its behavior will not necessarily be the same, especially in terms of social cohesion. In the wild, degus live in small families of 1 to 2 males and up to 6 females. In captivity, it is now possible to have your male degus castrated in order to create an equivalent social group. 

Please note that this article was translated with the help of DeepL. If you notice any mistakes, please send us an email at octodons.lesite@gmail.com! Thank you for your help!

How to know the sex of your degus?

Anatomy

We find in the genital area of the degus several organs, which it is advisable to be able to differentiate correctly, in order to facilitate the task during the determination of the sex of the degus:

  • At the base of the tail is a circle of skin, it is the anus.
  • In the female, we find the presence of external lips, which are usually closed and present in the form of a line or small fold of skin.
  • We find the urethra in the form of a cone, located towards the belly of the degus.
Distinction de sexe entre un octodon mâle et un octodon femelle

Distinction between a male and a female degus. Male on the left, female on the right.

Handling your degus

First of all, it is advisable to find the genital zone. This one is located under the belly, close to the tail, you will find there the anus and the urethra of the degus. In order to be able to see the best, we advise you to catch your degus with one hand and to raise delicately the tail, or to look underneath in order to be able to observe the zone. If you are not yet comfortable with handling your degus, you can, with the help of treats, make it rise on a transparent container, in order to be able to observe it from below. It is also possible to observe them via a metal grid, or by making your degus climb on bars. Finally, it is also possible to determine the sex of the degus when it is leaning towards a large container of food, raising its hindquarters.

If you are not sure about the sex of your degus, you can always send us a picture or contact us via octodons.lesite@gmail.com.

Male

Octodon degus mâle

Male Octodon degus

In males, the distance between the anus and the urethra is greater. It is also characterized with a fold of skin between the two organs, which is rather discrete, but forms a distinct line. The cone is not the penis of the degus, but acts as a sheath, in order to “store” its genital organ when it does not reproduce. It can happen that the degus cannot retract its penis, it is then advisable to see a veterinarian.

Female

Octodon degus femelle

Female Octodon degus

In females, the distance between the organs is smaller than in male degus, with only a few millimeters difference. One can also distinguish the lips, which are usually closed and can be difficult to distinguish. One often notices only a light horizontal line, a “fold” of skin. If these are open, or if they present a discharge (except reproduction), it is advisable to consult a veterinarian.

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