Health and Disease Guide

Your Degu is as susceptible to disease as you are, and at first sight of any disease it is recommended you separate the Degu from any others (you are keeping more than one Degu, aren't you?) and seek professional advice. This page is designed to shed light on some common problems Degus may encounter, and although every effort is made to ensure the content is as factual as possible, you should always visit your vet at the first sign of any problems. We are not vets, and do not pretend to be like most other sites.



Description: A disease which is nearly always fatal for Degus, they are unable to digest sugars correctly as they have a resistance or lack of insulin, causing them to become diabetic.
Causes: Sugary snacks and food, wrong staple diet
Symptoms: overweight, early death, excessive water drinking, cataracts in the eyes
Treatment: visit the vet immediately,  although there is often little they can do to help. If your pet is showing signs of being overweight, reduce the amount of food you are giving them so your Degu is mainly eating timothy hay.
Prevention: Provide your pet with Degu specific food and treats, limiting to just one or two treats a week.


Bumble Foot (Pododermatitis)

Description: Bumble foot is an extremely painful problem where by the Degu experiences red swelling and sores to the bottom of the feet.
Causes: Constant walking on wired surfaces
Symptoms: Difficulty walking, cries of pain, swollen feet, sores, cut sores on the feet.
Treatment: Symptoms may fade with time, Vet visit is essential.
Prevention: Provide plenty of ledges and solid bases for your Degus to stand on to get off the wire from day 1.



Description: Small annoying animals like mites, ticks and fleas living and breeding in the Degu's fur.
Causes: spreading from interaction with other pets/ people
Symptoms: Constant itching, scratching and biting themselves
Treatment: Visit the vet for suitable medicine
Prevention: These are caught 90% of the time while in the pet shop. While selecting your Degu take time to observe if the Degu is displaying any of the symptoms. other sources are other pets (keep interaction at a minimum as your Degu will be scared of other animals) and yourself (you know if you have fleas and ticks, keep interaction to a minimum during this time).


Mouth Disease

Description: Diseases of the mouth or teeth
Causes: unclean water bottles, not enough items to gnaw on.
Symptoms: problems eating, constant grooming of the mouth, long teeth, drooling, crying.
Treatment: Visit the vet immediately
Prevention: clean water bottles, providing gnawing items (items designed to be gnawed on e.g. with a treat hidden inside are best to make sure your Degus destroy them and not the expensive home and shelves you just bought them!)


Liver Disease

Description: Problems with the liver
Causes: Eating too many fatty foods
Symptoms: Excessive weight loss, Drinking lots of water, symptoms similar to Diabetes
Treatment: Visit Vet immediately
Prevention: Give your Degu suitable treats. you can find these on our treats article.


Tooth Problems

Description: Problems with teeth such as partial or full white colouring of the front teeth
Causes: Vitamin and nutrition deficiency
Symptoms: white teeth
Treatment: Improve diet (as long as there are other signs of ill health)
Prevention: Give you Degu the correct diet, including fresh vegetables occasionally for the right intake


Heat Stroke

Description: Overheating
Causes: Being placed in a hot room, cage with no ventilation, in direct sunlight.
Symptoms: appearing dead, immobile, hot to the touch.
Treatment: slowly immerse in cold water and visit vet immediately
Prevention: Well ventilated cage, away from direct sunlight and sources of heat, fresh water supply.



Description: white areas in the eye, fully or partially
Causes: Diabetes, excessive feeding of sugary foods, genetic
Symptoms: Eyes have a white glaze over the pupil, can cause loss of sight
Treatment: No known treatment at this time
Prevention: Correct diet


PLEASE NOTE: The information on this page is given as an indication of the problems you Degu could face. Do not use it as a tool for diagnoses of illness in yu pet. At the first signs of a problem, ALWAYS visit your local Vet.