The Common Degu: A Cute And Small Pet Rodent

Common Degu

The Common Degu, also known as the Octodon Degu, is a fascinating small rodent that belongs to the Octodontidae family. The word “Degu” comes from the native language of Chile, which means ‘mouse’ or ‘rat’.

Common Degus are highly social animals known for their playful nature and unique characteristics. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of the Common Degu, its appearance, behavior, diet, habitat, and interactions with humans.

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Size and Appearance:

Common Degu

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Common Degus are small animals with a body length of 25 to 30 cm and weigh around 170 to 400 grams. They have soft golden-brown fur above while creamy-yellow on the below parts of their body. They have dark but thinly scattered furred ears, pale gray toes, and long, thin but tufted tails with black tips. 

Rather than a claw, their fifth toe on the forefeet is small with a nail. They have sharp front teeth that continually grow throughout their lives, similar to other rodents. The cheek teeth of the Common Degus are shaped like figures of eight, and that is why their genus names Octodon.

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Social Behavior:

Common Degu

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Common Degus are highly social animals, living in groups known as colonies. These colonies consist of several individuals, often including related degus. Within the colonies, they communicate through a variety of vocalizations, including chirps and trills. 

They spend a long period on the surface, foraging for food. Common Degus also use scent markings with their urine to mark their territories and communicate. 

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Common Degus live in burrows, and they can construct larger and more elaborate burrows by digging communally. 

Common Degu

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Breeding Habits:

In the wild, Common Degus breed during Chilean autumn when day and night are roughly equal, and their pups are born in early mid-spring. Female Degus have a gestation period of around 90 days, which is slightly longer than other non-caviomorph rodents. Their litter contains an average of six pups but can vary from two to twelve young. 

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Common Degus are herbivorous:

Common Degu

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Common degu is a herbivorous animal, primarily feeding on a diet consisting of plant materials. Their diet includes various grasses, seeds, leaves of shrubs and bark. They have specialized teeth that allow them to chew tough plant fibers. 

Common degus have a special ability to intake very high fiber, as throughout much of the year, their forage is dried. 

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You’d be surprised to know that they perform coprophagy (consumption of feces) to extract more nutrition from their diet. It also helps them to maintain a healthy gut function during times when food is scarce. 

Common degus also have a unique dietary habit known as “chinning”. They rub their chins on food items to leave their scents, marking them as their own.

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As pets:

Common Degu

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Common degus have gained popularity as pets due to their sociable nature and entertaining behavior. One other prominent reason for their popularity is their diurnal habits, which means they are highly active during the day and have a long period of sleeping and inactivity in the evening or night. 

They are relatively easy to tame and can form strong bonds with their human caretakers by spending time with them. However, it is important to note that they require extreme care such as regular sand baths to keep their fur free from grease, and timely attention. In ideal circumstances, they are reported to live up to 13 years and have an average lifespan of around six to eight years. 

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Common Degu

Common degus have become a popular research topic for many due to their unique relationship with sugar and diabetes. 

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The Common Degu is a small and cute rodent that is kept as a pet due to its social behavior and playful nature. By understanding their behavior, natural habitat, and diet, and providing them with the care they need, we can pet them and make them thrive even in captivity.

 

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