So we have some new education animals! They are super cute and fun to play with and you know you just can’t wait to see them in action! Can you guess what they are? No, they’re aren’t Capybaras. Or baby Cassowaries. Or even Mongolian Hooded Wombats (Sherry wouldn’t buy me one). But they are almost as cute and fun! They are the Degus! (everyone insert raised eyebrows and “duh” expression here) 🙂 Keep reading my friends and learn about the funnest little fuzzballs the museum has to offer!
Degus are a small South American rodent closely related to chinchillas and guinea pigs. It’s a type of rodent called a caviomorph and it’s in the genus Octodon. It’s called this because the teeth in it’s cheek are shaped like a figure 8. They are a diurnal (up during the day) burrowing animal who in the wild would live communally so that they could construct larger and more elaborate burrows. They eat mainly grasses, seeds and other plant material and are very unique in that they have almost no ability at all to digest sugar in their diet. If they regularly have foods given to them containing sugar (such as fruit, etc) they can actually develop diabetes.
They usually live between 6-8 years, though some have been known to live over 10 years and are fairly intelligent for rodents. They should never be grabbed by the tail because it can actually be “de-gloved” which means the skin covering the interior muscle will strip off and not grow back and is very painful to the animal (I couldn’t find a picture of an unhappy Degu to put here).
We have a pair of Degus from the same litter who were born in September, and just recently came out of Quarantine. They’re still a little nervous, but we’re spending time with them and very soon they’ll relax and be very tame and handleable and hopefully ready for programs. Then they can meet all of you! 🙂