Your degu's health: what to look out for

Degus are generally healthy animals, but you may occasionally find your degu needs veterinary treatment. Make sure you find a degu-friendly vet who has experience with them – and be prepared for unexpected vet bills if you don’t have insurance.

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Your degus’ life expectancy

Degus generally live for between five and eight years old.

Dental health

Degus can be prone to dental problems. Unless they have inherited them from their parents, dental problems are usually due to a poor diet or even an inappropriate environment.

You will only be able to easily see your degus’ front set of teeth, known as the incisors. These should be dark orange in colour. The top and bottom set should meet nicely, be level and not at an angle.

If you spot any of these signs, your degu could have dental problems. Contact your vet if you have any concerns:

  • One or both eyes weeping
  • Drooling
  • Playing with food but not eating it completely
  • Teeth become lighter in colour
  • Teeth appear to be growing apart or at an angle
  • Face appears swollen or abscess appears along jaw line
  • Reduced faeces or size reduced

Diabetes

Degus can be prone to diabetes – especially if they’ve been fed an unsuitable diet including sugary treats like fruits and chew bars. It can be managed by improving their diet, but it’s likely their health will decline slowly. Signs to look out for include:

  • Cataracts
  • Excessive drinking
  • Excessive urinating
  • Unexpected weight gain, appearance of obesity

If you suspect your degu has developed diabetes, arrange a vet check and review their diet quality.

Leg and tail injuries

Degus love to explore and move quickly. However, if the environment is not safe for them, they can get seriously injured.

Furnish your degus’ cage with fun activities to keep them occupied. Avoid any items that could trap their legs or they could become tangled up in. If you notice any change in your degus’ movements or swellings in their legs, talk to your vet.

Tail injuries or loss is also common if your degus are handled incorrectly or have been involved in a fight with another degu. Also known as ‘degloving,’ this is when a degu allows their tail to detach to escape a predator. Either the skin and fur will detach from the tailbone or the whole tail may come off.

Because of this, make sure you avoid picking your degu up by the tail. If your degu does deglove, they will need immediate veterinary treatment to clean and repair the wound.