(Octodon degus)




Facts about this animal

The degu is is a endemic rodent from Chile, stout-bodied, rat-sized rodent with the tail shorter than the head and body. Head-body length ranges from 17-21 cm, the tail from 8-14 cm, and the body-weight from 170-260 g.


The degu's front legs are shorter than its back legs and the ears are quite large. They coat is long and silky, grey-brown tinged with orange on the back and creamy yellow to white on the belly.


The degu is a seasonal breeder with a birth season between September and December. After a gestation period of 87-90 days, the female gives birth to a litter of 3 to 8 young weighinhg 14 g. The offspring is weaned at 5-6 weeks.


The diet of degus consists of grass and other green vegetation, bark, seeds and fruit. Degu's feed on the ground, but will climb into the branches of shrubs and small trees. They are active during the day and all year round. They construct an elaborate, communal burrow system and live together in small colonies.

Did you know?
That degus have an interesting way of escaping predators? If the tail is caught, a degu may spin until the skin comes loose.


Name (Scientific) Octodon degus
Name (English) Degu
Name (French) Degu, Dégus, Octodon, Dègue du Chili
Name (German) Degu
Name (Spanish) Degú
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Pierre Camateros



Range Western Chile
Habitat Coastal areas, montane regions, in burrows of rock crevices
Wild population Unknown, but it's a common species in Chile
Zoo population 616 reported to ISIS, but this species is also common in the international pet trade and is often used in laboratory studies

In the Zoo



How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 79 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Vera Buhl

Why do zoos keep this animal

The degu is of educational interest as it is a diurnal and social representative of the octodontid family (other octodontids are nocturnal). The species is frequently in pet trade, and zoos may also come into the position of having to accept abandoned pets.