A degu (pl. degus) is a small rodent-like animal, found in the lowland, west coast plains of Chille and up through the Andes Mountains in South America. These animals are closely related to the guinea pig and chinchilla. Though they are not rodents, but they look very similar to large gerbils. However, they are more closely allied to rabbits than gerbils.
Degus are very social, curious animals and can be very vocal. They can be up to 5 – 7 inches long. The average life span of a degu is around 7 – 8 years in captivity. These animals make different noises, which include weeping, warbling with happiness, and screeching when alarmed.
As a social animal, a degu likes to live in a group. These animals live in colonies in the wild, among hundreds of other degus. Therefore, before buying degus as pets, it is important to consider how much space you have and whether you can afford to have more than one degu. Consider buying at least two degus of the same sex. However, four is better, and half a dozen best. Keeping a single degu as a pet may cause depression and sometimes refuse to eat. Because of this fact, quality breeders and pet stores normally do not sell single degus.
It is better to purchase males, or be ready for pregnant females. Since degus are very productive, a single male can impregnate a cage full of female degus. A careless breeders or pet stores can sell pregnant females by mistake.
Last but not the least, be a friend of your new pets. Degus are very intelligent and they need daily attention and enjoy being around people. Therefore, you need to hold them frequently so that they can become comfortable in your presence. Finally, they can learn to sit on your shoulder, or crawl into your pocket.