Degus are a fascinating creature from Chile. They are a small peculiar creature that looks almost like a large gerbil. It is easy to become captivated by these little rodents. But do degus make good pets? Keep reading to find out more!
Do Degus Make Good Pets?
Not every animal is the right fit for every family. That being said, if you want to try your hand at a more exotic pet, degus are a great place to start. They are a little more complicated than your average hamster, but not too much. And if you have older children, they can make a great pet to teach about responsibility.
Pros Of Owning Degus
The best way to see if a pet is right for you is a pros and cons list. First, we will talk about all the fantastic things you will experience when you have degus as pets. This is the easy part of owning a degu.
Degus are brilliant animals. They often learn their names and come when called to it. They also love to figure out toys and puzzles when playing. But the most entertaining is teaching them basic commands. They will often spin for treats or learn to go back to their cage.
Degus themselves do not have an odor. Their poop comes out in semi-soft pellets that don’t smear easily, and they usually urinate in the same areas. As long as they are kept in clean living conditions, you should never smell them. Once you start smelling the cage, you know it’s time for a cleaning day.
If you are looking for a social butterfly, degus are the way to go. They love to play with each other and bond with their owners. The more time you spend with them, the easier it is for them to bond. They also love to have friends who can add to the fun of owning them. A lone degu is fun, but having two lets you see what their personalities are really like.
Your degus will never want to stop playing. Unlike most rodents, they are highly active throughout the daytime. Since we are also most active during the day, it gives you plenty of time for bonding without disrupting your sleep. You will often find them running, jumping, and making happy sounds at all hours.
The average degu has a lifespan of 5-8 years. With proper care and dedication, some owners have even reported that their degus live as long as 11. That is a long time to spend with your furry friend, and we couldn’t be more grateful for it.
For an exotic pet, degus are relatively inexpensive. When buying degus from a breeder, the average cost is $35 but can be as much as $100. Of course, this doesn’t include the cage and all the basic necessities. But it is still a lot cheaper than some other pocket pets that can be over $300 apiece.
While there are a lot of things degus shouldn’t eat, their main diet is simple. You can buy prepared diets for them online and provide plenty of timothy hay. The only thing that you have to be careful about are treats, but they don’t need much of those.
Did you know that degus come in all sorts of colors? There are so many color morphs that it makes it easy to start a degu collection. They can come in beautiful browns, creams, blacks, whites, and even “lilac.” Some morphs cost more than others. But they are so beautiful that you can’t help but want them.
Cons Of Owning Degus
Not everything is always sunshine and roses with pets. Do degus make good pets? Yes, but there are a few things that most people don’t like about them. When deciding if a pet is right for you, it is helpful to look at the opposing sides too.
Degus are a herd animal and in the wild stay in large groups. Degus, as pets, should also be kept in groups. We recommend at least two, but since they are so addicting, you might end up with more.
Your degus will not climb up in your lap for snuggles like other pets. They will take treats and a few neck scratches, but they will never be too affectionate toward you.
Just like other rodents, degus will chew everything. So you will need a metal cage, lots of chew toys, and a chew-proof play area. Otherwise, you could have damaged floors, walls, and electric cords.
Not Legal Everywhere
There are a few states where degus have been labeled as an invasive species. In those states, it is illegal to buy, sell, or trade them. And the fine can get pretty expensive if caught. If you live in California, Connecticut, Alaska, Utah, or Georgia, you will need to look for another pet.
While degus don’t smell, they are very messy. In their play, they will skid through bedding and poop, flinging it all over the room. You will wonder how such a small animal could poop so much. And since they can’t be litter trained, there isn’t much you can do.
Finding a vet who specializes in degus can be a challenge in some areas. Since degus are not very common, most vet’s don’t know anything about them. And when you do find a vet, it will cost you a pretty penny.
Degus are known to suffer from heatstroke easily. Their optimal temperature is 68 degrees, but anywhere from 64-71 is okay for them. Anything above 71 for too long could lead to heatstroke.
Remember how we said that degus are easy to feed? Well, that is mostly true. But you have to be careful to choose a proper diet and only sugar-free treats. Degus are naturally diabetic, and too many sweets could kill them.
If you are keeping degus as pets, you will need to know a few basics to get started. Below we will talk about a few recommendations and information you will need to know. This is a brief overview, so you will want to do a little more digging to learn all there is to know.
For a pair of degus, you will need to have a metal cage that is at least 36 inches wide and 18 inches deep. But a bigger cage is always better. Your degu cage should also have bar spacing 1/2 inch or less to prevent escaping. And having multiple hammocks, shelves, and nesting boxes will make them feel cozy and at home. Your degus will also love to have chew sticks and tunnels available for play.
Your degus should have a solid surface bottom and no wire. In the bottom of the cage, there are a few things you can use as bedding to make it soft. Some familiar favorites are fleece, hemp mats, and shredded recycled paper. Just be sure that if you use fleece or mats that you also give your degus some material to nest in. The most crucial thing to remember is not to use wood shavings for bedding. Wood is known to be dusty and harbor bacteria that can make your degus sick.
There are several degu diets available on the market, but not all are created equal. The most common among degu owners are Sun Seed brand and Exotic Nutrition. Both of these brands meet all of the diet requirements needed. Your degus will also need to have fresh timothy hay available to them all the time. The hay will make up most of their diet, so that saves some money on pellets.
Degus are a very active creature. They love to play with each other and with toys. Having a larger cage than recommended is important because they are so busy. In the cage, they should also have a 12-inch wheel. Your degus will love to run on this thing all day and night, so you might want to invest in a quiet one. And once your degus are tamed and comfortable with you, they can have out of cage time. You can buy playpens and add new toys and tunnels for more exercise. But if your degus never become that tame, don’t worry, it’s not required as long as they have what they need.
Like chinchillas, degus need to have special baths. Degus can’t have a bath with soap and water. Instead, they prefer to roll in either chinchilla dust or sand. These special baths soak up the oils on their fur, just like a dry shampoo works for us.
Every pet owner should know the common illnesses related to their pets. Knowing what your degu is prone to could help diagnose a problem before it gets out of hand. A few common health problems are:
- Respiratory infections
- Vitamin A deficiency
- Overgrown teeth
- Liver disease
- And a dropped tail (only when pulled)
Are degus good pets? We think they are perfect. But do degus make good pets for you? That’s up for you to decide. We hope that with all this information, we have turned you into a degu lover too.