A degu is a rodent that lives in Chile South America. Highly social herbivorous mammals, they live in groups, nest in burrows and are diurnal (active during the day). They are about the size of an adult person's open palm and have brown fur, pale UV reflective belly fur, light rings of fur around their eyes and orange teeth. They also have a medium length tail with short, wiry hair becoming longer at the tip. Degus are sometimes referred to as 'brush tail rats' or 'trumpet tailed rats'52 but are entirely unrelated to rats.
Other names that local people often use to refer to wild degus include 'chozchoris', 'rata de las cercas', 'raton de tapias', 'bori' and 'Cuming's octodon'52. The name 'degu' is itself derived from its Latin name, Octodon degus. 'Octodon' translates from Latin as 'eight tooth' (octo=eight, dens=tooth), while 'degus' is derived from the Latin word 'degusto' meaning to taste/graze. Octodon degus therefore loosely translates as 'eight tooth grazer', a name which the naturalist who discovered them clearly obtained through aspects of their physiology and behaviour.
If you're new to degus, you may be wondering what the big deal is. Of course all of us who have degus don't need to ask! Degus make great pets simply because they fulfill all the 'ideal pet' criteria, and more...First of all, Degus are small and easy to keep. They are diurnal (awake when you are) and are very intelligent. Their personalities are amazing! They love to be stroked and will groom you back if you give their belly a rub! They don't need 'special' diets (other than restricting sugary foods) and love human company and can learn to see their owner as another Degu. They're cute, funny, clever, naughty and playful. Degus are loyal and brave little creatures and are amazing at adapting to new environments and are not easily stressed.
Degus are best suited to adult homes with time to dedicate to them. They will bond well with someone and live quite a long time. They do best in pairs and are friendly.
At the end of the day, deciding where to get your brand new family member from is a big decision, but with the right information, it can be made a bit easier. It's always a good idea to schedule a 'get-acquainted' session with us and your pet and, if at all possible, have a list of questions ready that you can ask us. Contrary to popular opinion, the claims data revealed that pets adopted from rescue organizations are actually 5% less likely to suffer an unexpected trip to the veterinarian compared to pets purchased through pet stores.