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Certain disorders can affect the reproductive organs of the degu, although these conditions are generally rare. In females, the pathologies are varied and can be related to diseases or complications during reproduction. Similar to digestive disorders, consultations for reproductive diseases account for approximately 10% of degus seen in clinics, compared to 60% for dental issues1.
Only a veterinarian familiar with the degu is qualified to make a diagnosis and propose appropriate treatments. Be cautious about self-diagnosing your animals, as it can lead to a worsening of their health.
Reproductive pathology in male degus
Paraphimosis, or prolapse, is a condition that prevents the retraction of the penis into its sheath and can occur in male degus1. These problems are observed in cases of injury or trauma, excessive reproduction, the formation of a fur ring, or the accumulation of dirt around the penis. If the penis is not repositioned, an ulcer can develop, along with inflammation or even necrosis. The latter can lead to urethral obstruction and urinary pathologies. Therefore, it is important to promptly consult a veterinarian if the organ does not retract. Amputation may be considered if the veterinarian cannot successfully retract the degu’s penis2.
Reproductive pathologies in female degus
Pathologies in females are more diverse and often occur during pregnancy3 4. It occasionally happens that female degus develop uterine cancer, but the majority of pathologies arise from complications with the fetuses.
Gestation toxemia occurs in the last few weeks before delivery or shortly after3.This condition is induced by hypoglycemia and ketosis and is caused by an imbalance between the degu’s energy requirements and its intake. This can be related to poor nutrition, absorption issues, or a high fetal demand.
This disease presents pronounced symptoms5: sudden general fatigue, anorexia, tachypnea. The degu remains lethargic and may experience breathing difficulties. The treatments involve antibiotics, corticosteroids, and supplementary calcium rehydration. The prognosis is generally reserved, as gestational toxemia can cause death in degus within a few hours. In some cases, a cesarean section may be attempted, but the survival rate of the offspring is very low.
Dystocia is difficulty during delivery and can be induced in degus due to improper positioning of the babies or having too many offspring. While this problem is rare in this species, it can sometimes go unnoticed due to the shape of the placenta and the very short umbilical cord in degus. Dystocia is often favored in obese animals or those with overly large litters. Young or frequently bred female degus may also have difficult deliveries. Malformations can also be a possible cause.
Dystocia is observed when delivery exceeds 30 minutes between each birth, and the animal has been in labor for more than 4 hours 6. Oxytocin injection can be administered, but alternatives like cesarean section or ovariohysterectomy should be considered.
Uterine infections are relatively rare in degus. Symptoms include the degu’s general lethargy, anorexia, a distended and painful abdomen, and vulvar discharge in cases of an open pyometra7. Antibiotic treatment is necessary, and the prognosis depends on the degu’s overall condition. Ovariohysterectomy is sometimes recommended in severe cases. The use of prostaglandins in conjunction with antibiotics can be an alternative to surgery.
Both males and females should be regularly examined to check for the presence of diseases. For pregnant females, close attention should be paid to the degu’s condition throughout gestation. Reproductive organ diseases are rarer in females but often more dangerous to their health. Their nutrition should be closely monitored to ensure the mother’s well-being.
- Diseases in pet degus: A retrospective study in 300 animals
- Surgical narrowing of the preputial orifice for treatment of recurrent penile prolapse in a degu (Octodon degus)
- Handbook of exotic pet medicine
- Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents Clinical Medicine and Surgery by Katherine Quesenberry, Christoph Mans, Connie Orcutt
- TOXEMIE DE GESTATION (Maladie des agneaux jumeaux)
- Diseases of Small Domestic Rodents – Virginia C. G. Richardson
- UN NOUVEL ANIMAL DE COMPAGNIE : OCTODON, OCTODON DEGUS