If you’re interested in learning about the degu lifespan, then this is the perfect resource for you.
Degus may not be the most widely kept pets, but they are undeniably adorable and can easily win you over with their outgoing personalities and gentle natures.
If you plan on adopting a degu as a companion, it’s crucial to gather all the necessary information to guarantee that you can offer your furry friend a joyful and extended lifespan.
Let’s discover additional information regarding degus.
Having knowledge of the degu lifespan can assist in determining if they are suitable for your household and the level of quality of life you can provide.
If you are interested in learning about the degu lifespan, continue reading.
Degus are a rodent that originates from central Chile in South America.
The Degu‘s natural habitat resembles the Mediterranean climate, characterized by dry summers and wet winters.
The scientific name of these small animals is Octodon degu, which refers to their unique cheek teeth that resemble the shape of the number eight.
When fully grown, Degus can reach a weight of 12 oz. and a length of up to 12 inches.
Typically, the fur of degus is yellow-brown in color with a lighter yellow underside, and their tails may feature a black tip.
Degus live in small groups within larger colonies, making them social animals.
Degus are creatures that enjoy digging and have a fondness for scavenging.
Degus as pets
Degus belong to the caviomorph family, just like guinea pigs, and share similarities with chinchillas.
Similar to guinea pigs and chinchillas, degus are marketed as small pets.
While there are breeders who specialize in Degu, it is important to note that owning this animal is prohibited in certain locations such as California, Utah, Georgia, and Alaska in the United States, and breeding them is also illegal in some other regions.
Due to their exotic pet status in several locations, degus are not typically available as “pedigreed” animals.
Degus are known for being active during the day, making them a popular choice as pets.
The life expectancy of degus
On average, degus have a lifespan of 1-4 years, similar to their lifespan in the wild.
However, the longevity of pet degus is influenced by various factors, excluding predation.
When kept in captivity, degus are still considered juveniles until they reach approximately one year of age.
Degus do not fully mature until they are two to three years old.
Degus are a rodent species that have the potential to live for a long time, reaching their teenage years with proper care and some good fortune.
Nonetheless, the typical lifespan of a captive degu is commonly stated to be between 5 and 9 years.
What are the secrets to a long degu lifespan?
Genetic conditions that affect degu lifespan
Degu lifespan can be influenced by genetic inheritance.
Regrettably, degus possess certain genetic health issues that are more prevalent than usual.
Degus have a tendency to develop diabetes mellitus without any apparent cause, which is similar to Type 2 diabetes in humans.
In this form of diabetes, insulin production or usage by the pancreas cells ceases.
Signs of the condition include increased urination and drinking.
Islet amyloidosis, a condition that specifically affects the pancreas and is not found in other rodent species, may occur as a result.
Degus have a tendency to develop beta-amyloid deposits on their own, leading to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
As a matter of fact, degus are frequently utilized in research facilities as authentic examples for Alzheimer’s disease since they undergo degenerative cortical alterations due to aging that closely resemble the advancement of the human ailment.
Regrettably, numerous captive degus encounter indications of Alzheimer’s disease.
There are scientists who think that it is unavoidable for Degus to have a shorter lifespan, but there is still no conclusive evidence.
Degus are susceptible to various eye conditions, including cataracts, lens lesions, and other diseases.
There are various factors that can cause these issues, but it is believed that one of them could be a genetic inclination.
Some of the eye issues that are typical in degus may be caused by diabetes.
Degu life expectancy – The role of diet
Degu lifespan can be influenced by factors other than genetics.
Additionally, nutrition also has a significant impact on the degu’s lifespan.
According to research, fur chewing and mishandling were among the top three factors that caused diseases in Degus.
Diarrhea and obesity are among the dietary factors that affect the health of degus.
Degus need a diet that is rich in protein and low in fiber, which typically consists of herbaceous plants like shrubs, grass, and seeds that they consume in the wild.
When kept in captivity, degus have a tendency to consume fewer amounts of hay due to the allure of tempting treats that they prefer over it.
Degus require hay to maintain their dental hygiene and keep their teeth in good condition.
Degus can face significant health issues if they consume an inappropriate diet that leads to dental diseases.
For a long degu lifespan, it is important to provide degus with easy access to nutritious, low-sugar foods that promote dental health.
Skin and teeth issues that affect degu lifespan
Degus are susceptible to dental issues that can lead to health complications, including misaligned incisors and elongated cheek teeth.
Degus are prone to dental problems due to their teeth’s continuous growth throughout their lifespan.
Proper diet is crucial for Degus to prevent dental issues that may worsen without veterinary treatment if they are not provided with appropriate foods to gnaw on and wear down their teeth.
According to a 2009 study on the mortality of domesticated degus, researchers discovered that numerous degus experienced skin issues, in addition to the previously mentioned factors.
Degus may experience skin alopecia, which is characterized by self-mutilation or fur-chewing, often caused by inadequate care or boredom.
Degu health problems are frequently caused by stereotypic and repetitive behavior such as fur chewing.
It can be extended with proper activity and attention, like toys to combat tedium.
Other health matters that may affect degu lifespan
Degus may experience soft tissue injuries due to fights with other degus or incorrect handling, as well as skin abscesses caused by bite wounds.
Degus are also susceptible to parasitic infections.
Several degus succumb to digestive ailments, such as pancreatitis and liver failure, resulting in a shortened degu lifespan.
Reproductive issues can affect female degus, and penile prolapse can be a concern for male degus.
Degus have the potential to suffer from arthritis.
Degus are susceptible to bumblefoot, a condition that frequently arises from uneven contact with wire cages.
Admittedly, the situation may seem bleak, but there are ways to rectify it and provide your degu with a prolonged lifespan.
How to improve the life expectancy of your degu
By providing proper care and attention, you can prevent the aforementioned issues and promote a long, happy lifespan for your degus.
Here are some tips to assist in providing your degu with a strong foundation:
If you buy a degu from a breeder, it is advisable to inquire about the health of its family lineage and any potential health problems they may have.
To ensure a long lifespan for your degu, it is important to provide them with a well-balanced and nutritious diet that is specially formulated for their needs, along with an unlimited supply of hay, while refraining from giving them any sugary treats. For further information on the appropriate food for degus, refer to our article on degu food.
To ensure a long lifespan for your degu, it is recommended to keep them in pairs or groups since they are social creatures and thrive better in the company of others.
To ensure a long Degu lifespan, it is important to spend ample time with them as they are sociable creatures and thrive on human interaction.
Locate a competent veterinarian who specializes in caring for unusual animals and schedule annual check-ups for your degu.
To ensure a long lifespan for your Degu, it is important to provide them with appropriate shelters, toys, and human interaction to prevent them from engaging in fur-chewing behavior.
It is important to ensure that the floor of degu cages is firm and even to prevent the occurrence of bumblefoot.
To ensure a long lifespan for your degus, it is important to handle them with caution and gentleness, avoiding grabbing them, especially by the tail, as they prefer climbing and sitting on you rather than being held.
If your degu stops consuming food, it is crucial to take them to a veterinarian right away as they might be encountering gastrointestinal problems or dental complications.
Longest living degu
Although some degus have been reported to live up to 18 years based on a cursory online search, there is limited authoritative data available regarding the maximum lifespan of captive degus.
There is only one verified instance of a long degus lifespan, which was an 11-year-old degu mentioned in a scientific article.
Nevertheless, degus typically have a longer lifespan compared to other rodent species.
With proper care, your Degu can live for several years!
Degu lifespan – How long do degus live?
Degus typically have a lifespan of 1-4 years in their natural habitat.
By providing adequate care and being fortunate, it is highly likely that your Degu companion will have no trouble living for at least 5-9 years or even longer.
The lifespan of Degus is influenced by various factors such as genetics, diet, and environment.
To ensure a long Degu lifespan, it is important to provide them with proper nutrition, social interaction, and opportunities for physical activity through toys and exercise.
Being actively involved with Degu care can help you identify health issues that require veterinary attention sooner.
Do you have a long-lived degu at home?
What is the age of Degus, and what do you believe is the reason behind their extended Lifespan?
Do you believe there are any factors that influence the longevity of degus that we have not discussed?
Participate in the discussion by utilizing the comments section!
Resources and Further Reading
V. Jeki et al (2011). Investigating Illnesses in Pet Degu: A Retrospective Analysis of 300 Animals. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 52.
M. Nishi and D.F. Steiner (1990) conducted research on Degu, Octodon degus, and uncovered the Secrets to a Long Lifespan. Their findings were published in Molecular Endocrinology, 4(8), and included the cloning of complementary DNAs encoding islet amyloid polypeptide, insulin, and glucagon precursors from this New World rodent.
Steffen, J. et al (2016). Exploring the potential of Degu as a model for Alzheimer’s disease? Acta Neuropathologica Communications, 4(1).
Tarragon et al (2013). Octodon degus: A model for the cognitive impairment linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Neuroscience & Therapeutics, 19(9).
Van Groen, T. et al (2011). Investigating the Brain Pathology of Degu with Respect to Age: Blood Vessels, White Matter and Alzheimer-Like Conditions. Neurobiology of Aging, 32(9).
Octodon degus have been studied by Woods and Boraker in 1975. Their research, published in Mammalian Species, focused on the Degu Lifespan and the Secrets To A Long Degu Lifespan.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife poses the question, “Why can’t I keep a hedgehog, sugar glider, ferret, or other restricted non-native species as a pet in California?”
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (2012) has outlined the regulations for Collection, Importation, Transportation, and Possession of Animals. This can be found in their document R657-3.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources provides information on Wild Animals/Exotics, which can be found at this link.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game provides information on legal pets.