A Degu (pronounced Day-goo) is an ever-increasing popular pet. Originating from Chile, Degus are part of the Octodon family, same as Guinea pigs and similar to Chinchillas, classified due to having a distinctive 'figure 8' shape on thier front teeth. When treated with care, respect and given optimal living conditions, these animals become loving companions, characterised by there inquisitive, social and playful attitudes. Degus require a large cage to live in, a specific diet and lots of interaction, all of which can be found on the Degu care pages.
Degus are diurnal, meaning they sleep during the peak day and night, being awake during early morning and late evening. A fully grown adult will grow to around 15cm in body, with another 9cm in tail, weighing around 0.3kg. Degus are becoming ever popular as pets due to their high intelligence, long lives (an average of 6-8 years, although under optimal conditions lives of up to 10 years are not uncommon) and the ability to be trained. Until recently they could rarely be found in pet shop, especially mainstream., but are now being sold up and down the country. Once a bond is formed between creature and keeper, Degus will groom and play with their owners, with the most trustful even sleeping in there owners hands and on their shoulders.
Degus were first imported to many countries during the 50's due to their intolerance of sugar, and so were used in laboratories in many countries for diabetes research. As a result, it is believed that all the domestic Degus bred in this country are descendents of just 4 Degus imported to be experimented on. Laboratories also study Degus by training them to use tools due to there intelligence and hand-paw coordination, being see to use a mini 'rake' to obtain a treat out of a small inaccessible gap.
Woods, C. and Boraker, D. (1975) 'Octodon degus.' Mammalian Species, 67 (5).