Degu behaviour

Ensure your degu is able to behave normally.

Degus need:

  • Access to everything they require at all times (e.g. space, food, water, safe hiding places, companion degu(s), toys). To help prevent behaviours such as competition for resources, always ensure there are enough resources for all degus housed within an enclosure.
  • Opportunities to exercise daily to stay fit and healthy. They’re active animals and can suffer if they become bored.
  • Constant access to safe hiding places. Degus need to be able to be alone/hide/escape whenever they feel afraid.
  • Constant access to hay filled nest boxes to rest/sleep.
  • To dig, burrow and hide bits of their food. Proving a suitable bedding material will allow degus to carry out these normal behaviours. As degus may hoard food, you should regularly check their food stores and remove any food at risk of spoiling.
  • The opportunity to chew/gnaw on appropriate and safe toys. Degus need to be able to regularly chew on items due to their continually growing incisor and molar teeth.
  • To be able to eat their own droppings. This is a normal behaviour for degus as it helps them obtain the essential nutrients they need and keeps their digestive system healthy. More information on the dietary needs of degus can be found on our degu diet page.
  • Access to the dust bath two or three times a week for about 20 minutes at a time. This is an important behaviour for degus and helps them to keep their fur and skin in a good healthy condition. Prolonged or over-use of dust baths can lead to health problems. Therefore, dust baths should be removed after each use to help prevent illness, as well as the risk of them becoming contaminated with urine and faeces.
  • Kindness! Be quiet and gentle. Never shout at or punish degus, they’re very unlikely to understand and it could result in them becoming more nervous/scared.
  • To be handled with great care. Never pick a degu up by its tail - this is stressful and can injure them. Rough handling will likely stress degus. If you handle them, do so close to the ground, away from shelves/furniture as they may try jumping off and could get injured.
  • The company of other degus. Degus are social animals; see our Company section for more information.
  • You to be observant. If their behaviour changes or if they show regular signs of stress/fear, seek advice from a vet or clinical animal behaviourist - they could be distressed, bored or in pain.
  • Lighting times that are fairly predictable in the room where they live. E.g. keep them in a room where the lights are not left on till late at night, or where regular hours are kept. Degus are naturally active in the day and rest during the night.
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