Degus are small rodents originally found in South America. They may look like gerbils, rats or even squirrels, but their closest relatives are in fact chinchillas. Degus are becoming more and more widely recognized as ideal pets. This is not surprising given that they are not only cute, but also smart, sociable and inquisitive animals, which makes them very popular pets. Among their advantages is the fact that they are active during the day and so are unlikely to disturb their owner’s nighttime sleep. Degus are friendly and quite happy to interact with humans; they can easily remember simple commands or tricks. Another definite plus is that degus have practically no smell, which is an important quality for a pet likely to be kept in a city apartment. Degus can be bought as companions for children. If they are correctly handled, they will make a perfect friend for your child.
Degus should be kept in spacious multilevel cages or display cases. They do best if kept in groups of two and more. They will suffer if they are deprived of social interaction with other degus. It would be a good idea to place a safe running wheel in the case, which will go some way towards satisfying their need for exercise. Experienced owners also recommend constructing special tunnels, nests and shelves to add some variety to your pets’ lives. In their natural habitat, degus feed on grass, leaves, seeds, fruit etc. When they are kept in captivity, the owners have to remember certain diet restrictions that apply to them. Degus cannot eat any sweet food or some types of succulent feeds such as cabbage or tomatoes, while grass, vegetables and fruit are better served slightly dried. When these rules are followed, degus are likely to delight their owners for a long time. Important: never grab a degu by the tail! They can be scared and shed it. Unfortunately, it will not grow back. It is also not recommended to try to pick up a degu from above, holding it by the back. This can cause the animal a considerable fright.