If you are considering a degu, or perhaps several, then first and foremost, you will want to know whether they make good pets. Besides, you’ll spend a lot of time looking after them and ensuring that you meet their needs. But what are they like to own? Who are they most suitable for? I spent some time researching to find out. And I’ll be sharing all that I learned here with you today.
So, do Degus make good pets? Degus make great pets; they are not very complicated to look after, very affordable, rarely smell, and are ideal for first-time pet owners with limited experience or existing knowledge. While they are more exotic and need slightly more upkeep than a Hamster, they are very social, love human interaction, and once tame, are generally open to holding.
Getting a new pet can be scary; there is no denying that.
For the Degu, you could have them for up to 8 years if they meet their life expectancy.
So, you’ll want to be entirely sure before you do go ahead.
Thankfully, there are so many wonderful things about Degus that they are a great choice for many people.
And if you do your research, plan ahead, understand what Degus are all about and create a good environment for them, they will thrive in your care.
Let’s dive in and find out more.
What Are Gegus Like As Pets?
Degus make wonderful pets. They are social, extremely intelligent, and always want to be part of the action. While they may be shy initially, but eventually, their curious, friendly nature will come out.
These rodents will bond closely with you the more time you spend with them and will learn to recognize you both by sight and by sound.
Some Degus will see you coming and “ask” to be let out of their enclosure to spend some time with you.
They will always want to play, so the more toys you have, the better.
Degus love to chew on sticks, and wooden toys are perfect for them.
However, remember to check the type of wood that the toys are made from, as some are toxic to Degus.
Toys also keep their teeth in good shape as they constantly need to be filed down.
They need the mental stimulation, and it’s so rewarding watching a happy Degu frolicking around in its enclosure.
Degus can learn to recognize their names and come when called – which makes these really fun to care for.
If you handle your Degus daily while they are still young, they will become very tame too.
They love being scratched under the chin, stroked, and some will even ask for tummy rubs.
What more could you ask for?!
One thing to consider here is that because they are such social animals, it is always best to keep at least two Degus.
They can get bored or depressed without a friend to keep them company.
Degus usually adjust their sleeping patterns to yours.
You can train them to be active either during the day or at night, depending on your schedule.
They naturally tend to be more active during the day as opposed to Hamsters and Chinchillas, who are nocturnal animals.
This characteristic suits most people, although it is particularly beneficial to those who like to come home from work or school and are seeking a little interaction with their pet.
Who Are Degus Best For?
Degus are best for adults or older children. Children should be at least six or seven years old before getting a Degu as a pet. Even then, you will have to supervise their time together as Degus tend to nip if you are not gentle with them.
Young Degus that are not yet used to being handled may bite.
If they feel threatened or are not handled properly, they will “deglove,” meaning the skin and hair on the end of the tail will come off.
This can lead to infections or other health complications.
This is why Degus and very young children are not the perfect match.
Degus are also best for those who don’t have any other rodents as pets.
Diseases can spread very quickly between Degus and other rodent species.
If you live in a hot, humid climate and don’t have some form of air-conditioning, a Degu will not be your ideal pet either.
Climate and environment are very important for Degus.
Their natural habitat is a cold one, and they do not tolerate heat well.
They develop heatstroke very quickly if exposed to temperatures above 71 degrees Fahrenheit (21 Degrees Celsius).
They are good pets for those who can invest time to build trust and nurture a bond.
It’s important to give them lots of attention, especially when you first bring one home.
Young Degus will need to get used to your scent, and you need to earn their trust.
If you don’t have the time or patience to spend at least the first few weeks working on bonding with your Degu, you should choose another animal as a pet.
It is best to be in a position where you can give your Degu all the love and care it needs.
What Do You Need To Keep A Degu As A Pet?
You need to prepare your home for your Degu. You will need a cage, bedding, toys, a dust bath, food and water dishes, and an exercise wheel. In addition to buying the right kit, you also need to Degu-proof your home, get the right food, and find a good vet. Not all vets have experience with exotic animals like Degus.
When choosing an enclosure, ensure that the bars are close together.
Degus are small, and you don’t want them squeezing between the bars and escaping.
The exercise wheel must be solid as their tiny feet may get caught if you use a Hamster wheel.
Other requirements in respect of a cage, bedding, exercise wheels, and a dust bath have been covered in previous articles on their propensity to smell and their typical size.
When selecting the rest of your accessories, make sure that you buy items that are chew-proof.
This means no plastic.
Not only will they chew straight through plastic items and destroy them, but small pieces may be ingested and become a choking hazard.
You must not use a water dish – always provide water from a glass bottle which should hang on the outside of your cage.
A water dish can easily be toppled, soaking the bedding and your Degu.
Similarly, food dishes must be metal or ceramic and heavy enough to prevent your Degu from tipping them over.
Degus need toys that are specifically designed for chewing, such as chew sticks – so be sure to stock up on these!
Other toys like ladders and tunnels are needed to keep them mentally stimulated and physically active. Naturally, these too need to be chew-proof.
Your Degu needs a balanced diet and as mentioned before, specially formulated dried pellets and good quality hay are essential.
Other Considerations For Potential Owners
There are a few things you need to consider carefully before deciding to purchase a Degu.
The first thing to check is whether Degus are legal in your part of the world.
If you live in an apartment or in a complex, check their rules and regulations or your lease; you may not be able to keep pets at all.
The second thing to think about is why you want a Degu instead of a dog, cat, rabbit, or some other pet.
Your lifestyle should dictate what type of pet you choose.
Do you or anyone you live with have allergies?
The dust from their baths can trigger reactions.
If you jog or cycle and want a pet, who will keep you company, hopefully, you will realize that a Degu is less than ideal.
If you work all the hours God gives and cannot remember whether your milk has gone off, it may not be a good idea to get a pet at all.
You need to know what you want from a pet and whether you are going to get it from a Degu.
Thirdly, make sure that you have a place in your home that is suitable for your Degus’ enclosure.
The spot must be well ventilated and neither too hot nor too cold.
It is also recommended that the cage be elevated.
If you bend over to get to the cage, your Degu may think you are a predator. Aside from getting the fright of their lives, they may refuse to come near you.
Despite degu not getting too big, you do need to provide a sufficiently large cage with plenty of space for them to roam, exercise, and play.
When you take your Degu out of their cage for playtime or when cleaning their enclosure, make sure that the room you have them in has been properly prepared.
They are inquisitive, slippery little fellows and will vanish and possibly get stuck in the nearest nook or cranny.
Not only must you check that there are no holes or gaps in the walls, but it is also essential to remove hazards like electrical cords.
Degus can chew through a cord in seconds, possibly electrocuting themselves in the process.
If you have a flatmate, housemate, or family, you should sit down and make sure that everyone in your household is on board with you getting a Degu.
Even if you are going to be the primary caregiver, everyone in the home must know the basics to ensure your Degus’ health and happiness.
This little animal is not one that you should choose without doing proper research.
As a general rule, you should never buy anything on impulse, especially not a pet.
Make sure you know what is involved and that you have the time and lifestyle to give your Degus everything they deserve.
Hopefully, you are now in a much better position to assess whether the Degu is the right pet for you and your own personal circumstances.
For the most part, they are a great, exciting, and enjoyable pet.
Those that own these rodents are often delighted with their decision to take one on.
While they may not be for everyone, many reasons make getting one not only justifiable but entirely enjoyable.
But as with any pet, continue in your research, visit a few pet stores, and be sure before you make a decision.
You owe it to them to be fully committed to their care.
Not just know, but for the duration of their lives.
Are you still researching for potential pets? My other guides may be of help:
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.