Age: 9 Months
The degu is native to central and northern Chile, where they live in large groups. In the wild they live in elaborate burrows amongst the rocks and brush of the West Andean slopes. The females raise their young in a communal group. To be healthy and happy, degus should be kept as pets in pairs or groups. As pets, they typically live 5-8 years.
Degus can become very tame if handled regularly and from an early age. They are playful and curious creatures and, like most rodents, love to chew everything. They thrive on social interaction and activity. Without regular social interaction and opportunities for exercise they can become aggressive and neurotic. A degu spends its days digging tunnels and burrowing, so it will need a large enclosure with adequate bedding that allows this activity.
While degus are relatively quiet critters, they do sometimes whistle or make quiet warbling sounds when they groom each other.
Degus require a large amount of space and should be kept in a big multi-level cage similar to those made for ferrets or chinchillas. The cage should have a solid floor. Provide a sufficient amount of bedding that will allow for digging and stockpiling of food. A solid (no rungs) exercise wheel and tubes (or PVC pipes) for tunnels are important cage furnishings to address degus’ natural activities and exercise needs.
Bedding should consist of dust free shavings as well as hay. Your degu will eat some of the hay and use some for building a nest. Make sure to avoid cedar and pine shavings as these woods are harmful to degus. You will also want to include a flat-topped nest box or igloo. This gives degus a sense of security and, since they like to climb, the box also gives them another place to climb up and sit. Clean, untreated branches from fruit trees put in the cage can also create climbing opportunities and entertainment.
Keep the cage away from direct sunlight, drafts, and other pets such as dogs and cats.