Degus: your day-to-day guide

Degus are very energetic and each has their own little character. They are not necessarily a first-time pet as not all enjoy being handled at first, but these cheeky little creatures will keep you on your toes. Find out how to care for your degus day-to-day below.

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What to feed your degus

Degus are herbivores – so they only eat plant-based food, not meat. Feed your degus a good quality diet to avoid health conditions like dental disease and diabetes.

  • Your degu’s diet should be made up of around 80% good quality hay varieties – such as meadow hay, alfalfa, orchard grass – and small amounts of timothy hay
  • 5% should be good quality nugget feed. One to two tablespoons of nuggets a day is ample for one to two degus
  • 15% natural, healthy forage treats should top up the last of your degus’ diet. Take care to choose healthy treats as it can be very easy to over feed sugary treats, which will lead to health problems.

Healthy treats for degus include:

  • Apple, pear or willow tree twigs and branch cuttings
  • Rose wood, ideally remove any large thorns
  • Dried herbs and seed pods purchased from a pet store such as the mountain mix or mallow root

How to handle your degus

Degus are naturally fast and wriggly animals, and many don’t enjoy being handled. Spend time slowly socialising your degus to help them feel safe and confident around you, and they may learn to enjoy being handled in their own time.

Spend 10-20 minutes each evening talking to your degus and offering them a treat to encourage them to feed from your hands. Once they feel confident with this, offer them your arm to sniff and hop onto. Never try to grab your degu suddenly as this can cause them a lot of stress and they may bite you.

If you need to catch your degus for health checking or during free-range time, place a tunnel out for them to get into. This way, you can safely lift them without causing them stress.

If your degus have become hand tame, you may find they will voluntarily climb into your hands or on to your arm. It’s important you don’t rush this.

Free-range time

Once your degus are settled with your daily routine and happy to feed from your hands, you can allow them some free-range time in a secure room.

Ideally, this is the room that the cage is housed in. Make sure all wires are protected and any house plants are removed. Your degus will run around fast exploring the room, so make sure the room is completely safe and secure.