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SAB Degu Mix – Healthy food for degus

Created in collaboration with a team of veterinary researchers, the SAB Degu Mix is a complete diet adapted to the precise needs of the degu. It is part of a desire to reduce dental problems, as well as to prevent diabetes and obesity in this species. Its implementation requires a little adaptation, but it is a real benefit for the degus. The SAB (Species-Appropriate and Balanced) degu Mix is divided into three food categories: seeds, plants and treats.

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!

Proper feeding

Before embarking on the composition of SAB Degu Mix, it is important to understand the diet of the Octodon degus. That’s why we invite our readers to read our articles on this subject: How to feed your degus? and Degus diet in Chile. Once the basic principles of feeding are clear, then it is interesting to look at the creation of this so particular diet.

SAB Degu Mix

Plants

Vegetables and plants are one of the bases of the SAB diet. They provide the right amount of calcium and variety to the degus, as well as fresh food. Contrary to popular belief, degus can eat fresh food without any problem, as long as they are gradually accustomed to it1, their digestive system is quite capable of digesting this food2

  • Calcium-rich plant
    Some of them bring an ideal level of calcium to the whole diet, as well as a significant contribution in fiber. It is interesting to propose it permanently to the degus, while respecting the Ca:P ratio. Offering a large variety of these plants allows the degus to select their food, in a natural way. According to the seasons and the preferences of each animal, the vegetables consumed can change, this is normal and totally healthy.
  • Flowers
    Several hundred plants found around us are adapted to degus. At least fifty species, which are safe for degus, can be easily identified.
  • Treeleaves
    The leaves of many deciduous trees and bushes are suitable for degus. There is not much data on the nutritional values of tree leaves, but when available, they are generally good. Fresh leaves on twigs and small branches are an excellent supplement to the diet during the warmer months. They dry out well and can provide a good supply for the rest of the year.
  • Leafy vegetables, salads and herbs
    They are a suitable supplement throughout the year and help maintain some fresh greens during months when there is little or no collection. Some leafy greens and salads have rather low calcium values and this should be taken into account when developing your degus’ diet. In general, leafy greens and salads should not exceed one-third of calcium-rich vegetables.

Seeds

Mélange de graines SAB degu mix, adapté aux octodons.

SAB degu mix, suitable for degus.

Seeds represent a large part of the diet of degus in the wild. The degus consume up to 60% of them during the drier periods3. These seeds come from annual plants, especially from the herbaceous plants present in the region. Some others come from shrubs that the degus eat from time to time. In the SAB degu mix, seeds represent a total of 20% of the diet. The selected seeds have a high calcium content and help to maintain the correct ratio. Each degu should eat 3.5g to 4g of seeds per day.

The seed mix of SAB degu mix is composed of :

1.5 part – large seeds: coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, fenugreek, spinach.

1 part – small seeds: alfalfa, basil, celery, chicory, clover, lettuce, nigella, poppy, radish.

Treats

Treats are those foods that can be fed to degus in addition to the SAB diet, i.e. foods that are not in the seed mix and are not fed as a vegetable/plant base. This category includes various types of foods such as: root vegetables, vegetables and fruits, seeds and nuts, flowers and plants. These foods are not an important part of the degu’s diet, but should be considered small treats, which can be given to the degu. It is possible to give up to 2g (dry weight) per day, not exceeding 5g if seeds are added. Overall, these treats are low in calcium and high in sugar or starch.

Several food groups can be used as treats: 

  • Root vegetables and fruits
    Often touted as a significant part of the degu’s diet, this is actually bad for them. In the wild, they eat very little of it. You can offer your degu some of these foods, however, it is possible that he will refuse to eat some of these foods at all. Don’t try to force them, just find another treat for your rodents.
  • Seeds and nuts
    Many legume seeds are popular with degus. However, some legumes are not suitable for degus and may even be harmful to their health. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds, while popular for degu, are very low in calcium and should be eaten in moderation.
    Nuts can be given on a regular basis, however, the seeds given on that day will need to be reduced, as nuts and hazelnuts are very high in fat.

How to make the SAB Degu Mix for degu

Once the theory is in mind, it is time to start practicing! Once acquired, the implementation of the diet is not that complex, and brings real benefits to the health of the degu.

The seeds

Every day, the degu must eat 3-4g of seeds. This gives him an essential energy contribution for his well-being, while leaving him the appetite for the plants.

The plants

The plants must be given at a rate of at least 15g/d (dry weight) and if possible in unlimited. Choose plants rich in calcium, in order to maximize the intake of his plants. In addition to offering a longer chewing time, plants are rich in fiber and low in sugar. The ideal is to propose about ten different species, if possible fresh. Used to it, degus can eat fresh food without any problem.

To be sure to provide the right level of calcium, first offer 15g of a mixture of plants rich in calcium, calculating the average ratio to reach 2:1 of Ca:P. You can then add other popular or seasonal plant essences. Ideally, you should offer about 10 different plants per day.

A complete list of edible plants is available here: www.worldofdegus.com/edible-food-and-plants-for-degus/

The hay

With the SAB Degu Mix, hay is generally less consumed, at a rate of 20% of its global food. Indeed, the degu will naturally go towards more appetizing plants for him, especially if they are fresh. With an adapted diet, this does not pose any concern, because the chewing and the assimilation of fibres is brought by the plants.

The treats

They should be limited to 1-2g/day, to avoid unbalancing the Ca:P ratio. It is also possible to offer calcium-rich dried vegetables as treats. However, the ideal is to limit the intake of treats, especially for sick and old degus.

L’apport en vitamine D

Each month, it is advisable to add to the food a contribution in vitamin D3; up to 25UI/d, that is to say approximately 750UI per month. This allows to maintain in good health the degus, in particular to fight against the dental malocclusions.
This contribution can be proposed via tablets or drops, be careful not to overdose.

Où se procurer un mélange SAB degus Mix?

It is possible to order Sab Degu Mix, with a mixture of seeds and plants in a German store: seeds SAB degu Mix & plants SAB Degu Mix. These recipes are well balanced and can be used as a dry base, with a fresh supply of plants every day.

Octodon degus

Tempi (left), Toupie (right)

Alternatives to SAB degu Mix

It is possible to find less complex alternatives to the SAB Degu Mix diet. In particular, it is possible to use as a base instead of seeds a mixture marketed in animal feed. We recommend three brands in our comparison: Cunipic Naturaliss Chinchilla & Degus Complete, which lacks fiber, but is, to date, the best mix on the market, followed by Versele-laga Crispy Pellets Chinchilla & Degus and Vadigran Terra degu. These mixtures can be given at a rate of 4g/d, with a sufficient intake of fresh plants.

The Cunipic Naturaliss Chinchilla & Degus Complete mix could be fed alone as a base diet (20g/d), although its carbohydrate content is a bit too high. It is currently the best mix on the market, with an additional contribution of fresh vegetables.

Sources

  1. Nutrition and Behavior of Degus (Octodon degus)[]
  2. Feeding and Digesting Fiber and Tannins by an Herbivorous Rodent, Octodon degas (Rodentia: Caviomorpha)[]
  3. Feeding Ecology of Two Chilean Caviomorphs in a Central Mediterranean Savanna[]

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