In order to be happy, healthy and active, Degus need a specific diet of Degu-specific nuggets, Timothy hay, alfalfa bales, fresh clean water and one or two fresh vegetable pieces a day to get all the nutrition they need. Below we go into more detail about which ones, and give suggestions on where and what to buy. Remember that giving the right food in the right quantities is vital, as in a caged environment, they can not seek out their own food, and can not shout you when they are hungry. Buying your pet was the easy part, building the cage was simple, now the next 5-10 years of feeding, preparing, cleaning and looking after is where you start demonstrating why you are responsible enough to own one of these magnificent animals
Degu Nuggets - The Staple Diet
Wherever possible you should provide your Degu with specially designed Degu food. Degus have an intolerance for sugar, the slightest over-feeding could lead them to diabetes and make them gravely ill, so attention must be paid to the labels to check sugar content. Food should be fed twice a day, during the morning and after the sleep in the late evening. Guinea Pig pellets are suitable if nothing specific to Degus are available, as they help provide some of the vitamin C Degus can not produce, but every effort should be made to have the correct food, which is very easy with the internet and home delivery options of most pet stores (after all, how are you reading this page?). Chinchilla food should be avoided, and all others should not be given. If your Degu becomes overweight, give them less pellets and more hay. Food should be kept in a ceramic or metal dish, as they are heavier than plastic and nibble proof (and so Degu safe), and to some extent will not tip over.
It is recommended and a lot easier and kinder for your pet for you to purchase these nuggets from the online store than to give other mixes intended for chinchillas, guinea pigs and other animals. This food is designed specifically for Degus by the leading breeders, and with constant offers on prices and delivery, you can not go wrong.
Timothy Hay - Your Pets Fibre
Degus need Timothy hay in thier diet to provide fibre. Timothy Hay is the only hay you should feed your Degu, which is available in small cubes, or, as I recommend, you attach a small cage to side of your hamsters home (a rectangular bird feeder cage with 1cm mesh is not only cheap but good) and fill it with the hay. Hay is a very important part of the Degus diet and a fresh, plentiful supply needs to be ensured at all times. This should be supplemented by Alfalfa hay, roughly once or twice a week. This hay provides a lot of the Degu's fibre, which is vital for the normal operation of the Degu's digestive system, and is seen by many breeders as more important to get right than the staple food.
In my cage I have hay in 2 positions, one at the top of the cage, where I sometimes add treats like pumpkin seeds and nuts to help attract the Degus to it, and one at the bottom of the cage next to the nest box so not only can they eat then sleep without having to jump around to get to it, but it also doubles up as extra bedding during the cold nights, where my Degus will pull out and drag any extra bedding they want into the nest box. My hay holders are rectangular metal cages designedto hold cake for birds that were around £1 each from the local d.i.y store.
Hay Needs a Place to be kept to keep it clean and where your Degus will find it. This Hay Ball from Pet supermarket not only provides a holder, but also a toy and enrichement. Obviously, being made of plastic, your pets would need to be supervised while playing with it.
|Alfalfa Bales Supplement a Degus diet and are believed to be necessary by many. I give mine these mini cubes, snapped in half and given to each Degu once a week. More details here|
We Recommend you have one bottle of water with a long metal sipping tube hanging to the outside of your cage on each level. Water bowls should not be used as they can be easily tipped and are more prone to bacterial infection via contact with urine and cage rubbish e.g. bedding. Your bottles should be cleaned out and provided with fresh water preferable once a day, although once a week is not too bad. If possible the water should have added vitamin C, but only from a pet specific source e.g. pet water drops. Do not add your own additives as they are not designed for animals and may have an adverse effect due to the concentration or amount per drop.
You could buy cheap £2 water bottles, but if your Degus get into the habit of chewing what they can get at, you'll be replacing them every week, even if they are outside the cage. it is much easier and cost efficient to give them glass bottles, or if you are D.I.Y. literate, create an enclosure out of mesh to keep them out of it.
Home Ingredient Treats
Degus love treats, as do we all, although there are some rules that need to be applied in order to keep your Degus healthy and happy.
Treats must contain as little sugar as possible to prevent diabetes and other health problems.
Any fruit and vegetables must be completely dried until no moisture remains, with a few exceptions.
All must not be chemically treated
You should give your Degu no more than one treat a day, to prevent over digestion of sugar, and putting them off their staple diet of Degu nuggets and hay which is vital for growth and wellbeing. (imagine giving a baby chocolate for a day then trying get then to eat bland tasting processed baby food, same rules apply)
The treat should be no bigger than the size off your thumb nail
Hiding treats in various areas around your cage will not only be fun for Degus but will also help them live out the scavenging behaviours they would normally demonstrate in the wild.
(all completely dried)
Petals and Leaves
Rose petals and buds
Cereals and Toasts
Plain Porridge Oats
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts can be given whole, in the shell, to provide entertainment for your pets as they break through to the treat within. I have found on occasion with walnuts and hazelnuts that you need to make a small break to start them off in order to give something to hold on to and let them know a treat awaits inside.
Shop Bought Treats
Where possible provide your Degu with treats designed specifically for there dietary requirements. Unlike other rodents, Degus can only tolerate most fruit and vegetables in tiny amounts due to there sugar intolerance.
Zoo Plus currently have the JR Farm Range and Pet Supermarket have the Naturals range in full of treats designed for Degus. Listed below are a few of the possibilities, which are my Degu's favourites and are often on good offers.
For the few times iv been online there has been new treats and old treats gone, so if you find a link not working please let me know and ill replace it.
As more research is made into the effect of different foods, treats may no longer be considered safe. We will try to stay updated with this, although if you are aware of any treats stated incorrectly please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will strive to provide the most correct information possible. Please also submit and additions. We would also like to point out that, although it is inevitable due to unknown effects, we are strictly against animal testing and clinical trials, and would like to remind all readers not to take the risk of feeding an unknown treat to your Degus, leave the research to the professionals. Thank you.