Need to know about degu food? We can help!
Do you have a pet degu, or are you thinking about getting one?
Degus are adorable little rodents that can make great companions.
In order to take care of your furry little friend and keep it healthy, it’s important to make sure you’re feeding it properly.
What can degus eat?
In order to find out, first, we’ll take a look at what degu food is in the wild.
Then we will cover what you should feed your pet degu and some great treat options.
What do wild degus eat?
Have you been wondering, “What do degus eat in the wild?”
Degus are naturally found in northern and central Chile.
They are herbivores, or vegetarians, which means that degu food should never contain any meat.
In the wild, they primarily eat fibrous vegetation that is naturally found in the Chilean mountains and plains.
It’s important for degus to consume plenty of fibrous food. It is required for them to maintain normal digestion, and to wear down their teeth.
Degus, like many other rodents, have teeth that continuously grow and must be kept worn down.
Wild Degu Food
The types of vegetation they normally eat include any of the following, depending on season and availability:
- Wild grasses & herbs
- Flowers & leaves
- Roots, bulbs & tubers
- Tree bark
In order to increase their nutritional intake, degus perform coprophagy.
This is a fancy way of saying they re-ingest their feces to get all the possible nutrition out of it.
The natural diet of a degu is low in sugar, fats, and oils. Protein should also be relatively low (less than 15%), and fiber should be the highest ingredient.
Natural Degu Food
If you’re looking for purchasing food that degus would naturally find in the wild, here are three options:
- OXBOW Western Timothy Hay, 40 Ounce Bag
- Rosewood Pet 1 Pouch Nature’s Salad Food for Small Animals, 200g
- Oxbow Orchard Grass Hay – 9 lbs
What is the best degu food?
It can be hard to find a shop-bought product to fit degu needs. Although degu are slowly growing in popularity, they are not currently a common household pet.
As they are not as common as other small animals, it can sometimes be challenging to find commercial food for degu feeding.
But basically, your degu needs unlimited amounts of timothy hay, a degu pellet or nugget food, and limited amounts of vegetables.
Degu Food You Can Share
When choosing any food for your degu, make sure they do not contain any of the following harmful ingredients:
- Coccidiostat (an ingredient sometimes added to rabbit food)
- Anything too high in protein (most hamster and gerbil foods)
Sugars can be harmful to degus. Their little bodies cannot properly digest them, so the best degu food is low in sugar.
Degus have been reported to develop diabetes and cataracts from consuming sugar.
Both illnesses will shorten the lifespan of your little pet.
It’s important to know that some vegetables we might normally consider healthy for rodents can actually be dangerous to degus due to their levels of natural sugars.
Degu food to avoid
One example of this is carrots.
Raw sweet potatoes, despite being called “sweet,” actually contain less sugar than carrots and are a better choice.
However, the skin and roots should be removed.
Other traditional small animal foods that should be avoided are ones that contain corn and sunflower seeds.
Since these dangerous foods are not natural to a degu’s habitat, they have not developed any instincts to warn against them.
Degus will eat anything you give them, even foods that make them sick.
So it is very important to be careful what you offer to your pet degus.
If you can’t find degu pellets or degu nuggets, there are other options you can consider.
Chinchilla and guinea pig pellets are generally good for degus, as long as they do not contain any of the ingredients just discussed.
It’s also important to provide your degu with plenty of hay.
Pellet Based Degu Food
Sun Seed Company SSS30060 Sunscription Vita Degu Food, 28-Ounce. This great pellet food is specially formulated for your furry friend!
An all-in-one solution, this food provides complete nutrition.
Beaphar Xtravital Degu Food 1kg. This complete degu food is another great option!
This food is low fat and low sugar. It also comes in gas flushed packaging to seal in freshness!
Keep in mind that with the rarity of degus as pets, there are not a lot of reviews yet on degu specific products.
However, the reviews currently provided are strong and the listed ingredients meet the safety requirements.
Degus can obtain a healthy, well-balanced diet with plenty of water and hay, as well as an appropriate pellet food.
However, there are plenty of other foods that are good for degus in moderation. These make for excellent treats.
This includes fresh and dried vegetables that are low in sugar. Dandelions are a great example.
Small amounts of seeds, peanuts, and other whole nuts also make good treats.
They should be feed very sparingly as they are high in fat and protein, which is hard for a degu to metabolize.
Too much can lead to health problems like liver and kidney damage.
To be safe, consider giving only one nut or a few seeds once a week or less.
Treats that help degus wear down their teeth are also excellent additions to their diets.
Degu treats you can buy
Lets look at some degu treats you might want to consider.
Dried Rose Hips (2 Pack) – Healthy Treat for Small Animals. These Rose Hips could make a great natural snack for your degu!
Vitakraft Treat Chinchilla Calcium Sticks Net Wt 3.5 OZ — 2 Pack. These crunchy sticks are made for chinchillas, but your Degu will love them too!
These sticks provide a healthy does of calcium to keep your degu’s bones strong.
Higgins Sunburst Veggie Stix Gourmet Treats for Guinea Pigs, Rabbits & Chinchillas. Another stick-based Degu treat!
These tasty treats are made from Beets, Carrot, and Alfalfa.
Keep in mind these are treats and should be given in moderation only.
Best Degu Food – A Summary
Degu food can be hard to find in your local pet store until these adorable creatures become more popular pets.
Remember the degu food list includes vegetable-based foods high in fiber. Plenty of fresh hay is very important for their digestion and teeth.
Fresh water and nutrient-rich pellets are also a staple of a health degu diet.
Your degu can enjoy treats for added variety in their diet.
Make sure they don’t include any sugar or Coccidiostat. Treats should also include only low amounts of the other ingredients mentioned above, such as protein.
If you have further questions about any specific dietary or health needs for your degu, please consult your exotic animal veterinarian.
References and Further Reading
- Edwards, M. S. (2009). Nutrition and behavior of degus (Octodon degus). Veterinary Clinics: Exotic Animal Practice, 12(2).
- Gutierrez, JR., Bozinovic, F. (1998) Diet selection in captivity by a generalist herbivorous rodent (Octodon degus) from the Chilean coastal desert. Journal of Arid Environments, 39(4).
- Kenagy, G. J., Veloso, C., Bozinovic, F. (1991). Daily rhythms of food intake and feces reingestion in the degu, an herbivorous Chilean rodent: Optimizing digestion through coprophagy. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 72(1).
- Meserve, PL., Martin, RE., Rodriguez, J. (1984). Comparative ecology of the caviomorph rodent octodon degus in two Chilean Mediterranean-type communities. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural, 57.
- Torres-Contreras, H. & Bozinovic, F. (1997). Food selection in an herbivorous rodent: Balancing nutrition with thermoregulation. Ecology Society of America, 78(7).