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Order:

Rodentia

Family:

Octodontidae

Group:

Octodon

Young:

Pups

Lifespan:

5 to 8 years (in the wild degus only live for 1 year)

Gestation:

90 Days, 1 to 8 young

Distribution:

Chile and South America

Habitat:

Semi-arid regions

Diet:

Grasses, seeds and leaves of shrubs

Conservation Status:

Least Concern
Facts

Degus Octodon degus are diurnal (active at dawn and dusk) with good vision and are highly sociable robust rodents that live in large groups making their burrows near to rocks and hedgerows and dig communally to construct larger and more elaborate burrows than they would on their own, as avid nest builders including a store for their food supply. They spend a lot of time collecting twig piles and within the degus community it is thought that the bigger the twig piles the higher their status. (Talk about keeping up with the neighbours!!)

Their colourings are grey to brown on the body and creamy yellow or white for the under belly, their coats are long and silky. They have broad well-developed incisors. They are sometimes referred to as a Brush-Tailed Rat (although not related to the rat family) and are closely related to chinchillas and the guinea pig family. Females living in the same group have been shown to spontaneously nest communally and they nurse one another's young. They spend a large amount of time on the surface, where they forage for food. When foraging, their ability to detect predators is increased in larger groups, where each animal will share its turn to keep a look out for predators.

Degus exhibit a wide array of communication techniques. They have an elaborate vocal repertoire, where the young need to be able to hear their mother's calls if the emotional systems in their brains are to develop properly. Another way of communicating is that they use their urine to scent mark, and experiments have shown that they react well to one another's marks.

 

Did you know?

That Degus are able to discriminate ultraviolet light from wavelengths visible to humans. It is thought that this sensitivity has a social function in that their tummies, fur, and their urine are highly UV reflective.