What Do Degus Eat? Best Food for Degus

Are you looking to get a Degu, or you already have one? Degus are little adorable rodents that can make excellent pets. To properly care for your little furry companion and keep them healthy, it’s essential to feed them properly.

In this article, you’ll learn about what Degus eat in the wild, what and what not to feed them in captivity, and how often you should provide food for them.

What Do Wild Degus Eat?

In the wild, a Degu’s diet contains 60 percent dietary fiber. The remaining portion consists of the vegetation on Chilean mountains and plains—which are part of its natural habitat.

Best Food for Pet Degus

The best way to keep your pet degus healthy is to feed them a variety of food and provide them with a balanced diet. Here is a list of safe foods for degus:

– Hay

A Degu’s diet should mostly consist of quality hay, which includes Meadow Hay or Timothy Hay. The hay should not be green, brown, as green hay may cause bloating. Throw away white or pink hay as it signifies the presence of mold.

You can also mix alfalfa hay with the Degu’s hay, though it shouldn’t be all the time. Alfalfa hay is highly proteinous and can cause health issues if overeaten.

– Degu Specific Food and Pellet

Your pet can have these as they contain every necessary mineral and vitamin suitable for Degus. Ensure they don’t contain sugar or molasses, as these can cause diabetes.

Provide 10 grams daily, but it shouldn’t be done freely, as your pet will abandon the hay and eat them. Hay is essential as it can help to wear down the Degu’s teeth and keep a healthy gut.

– Minerals and Vitamins

Degus requires a balanced diet with various minerals and vitamins. These include:

  • Phosphorus and Calcium: Ensure your Degu’s food contains a 2:1 Calcium to Phosphorus ratio. The wrong ratio can cause dental issues like overgrown roots and teeth and kidney calcification.
  • Vitamin C: Although Degus are widely believed to naturally produce the vitamin C they need, including it in their diet isn’t a bad idea. It’s mentioned as “ascorbic acid” in their hard feed. If absent, you can provide vitamin C through rosehip, parsley, red peppers, and broccoli.

– Vegetables and Fresh Herbs

Feed your Degu with vegetables and herbs once or twice (on rotation) every week as they can lead to bloating and gas if not fed in moderation.

If food can’t be fully digested in their small intestine, it will be passed to the Degu’s large intestine and mix with the bacteria in their gut while digesting. This process usually produces gas.

– Fruits

You can provide fruits like cucumber, carrots, apples, cherry tomatoes, sweet potato, and peas once a month. These fruits are either high in carbohydrates or sugar, which can be dangerous for Degus if fed excessively. It increases the risk of diabetes.

– Treats

Asides from hay and pelleted food, there are other foods that your Degu can take in moderation. They make for good treats and include small amounts of peanuts, seeds, and several other whole nuts.

Ensure to feed them very sparingly due to their high protein and fat content, which is difficult for your Degu to metabolize. Excess of these foods can cause health issues, such as liver and kidney damage.

Toxic Food for Degus

Atlhgough degus have a diversified diet, there are foods that are bad or toxic for them. Here are a few examples of food you should avoid feeding to your pet degus:

– Rabbit Mix or Food

Rabbit mix may contain coccidiostat, which is a substance that’s included in rabbit food to prevent coccidian (parasites). Coccidiostat is harmful to degus. Also, rabbit food doesn’t contain the right amount of minerals and vitamins.

– Degu Pellets Containing Molasses

Molasses have high sugar content, which is not good for your Degu.

– Raisins and Molasses

Avoid feeding these to your Degu because they contain high sugar levels.

Do Degus Eat Hamster Food?

Gerbil and hamster food contains plenty of highly proteinous seeds. Consumption of excess protein can lead to illness in your Degu, so you want to avoid feeding your Degu with hamster food.

How Often Should I Feed My Degu?

Ensure to always make hay readily available for your Degu, while the remainder of their dried food should be provided at regular intervals.

You can either decide to give them dried food twice daily (2 by 5-gram portions) or once daily (about a 10-gram portion).

Remember that dried food doesn’t have all the minerals and vitamins your Degu needs. That’s where vegetables come to the rescue. Chop the vegetable up into tiny pieces, about the size of a thumbnail. You can provide a vegetable mixture in their bowl—it can be at the bottom of this bowl.

You can try rolled oats. You can also choose to mix in herbs, dried or fresh, as Degus love them.

A healthy adult Degu can consume about 300 ml of water each month.

Why Is My Degu Not Eating?

If your Degu is losing weight and struggling to eat, it can be very problematic. It can be caused by several factors, which include:

– Spurs

Loss of appetite in your Degu can be caused by spurs (sharp edges that mostly occur on the molars). When a Degu’s teeth don’t align correctly, they won’t wear down easily.

It then leads to the sharp edges. The sharp edges will cut the Degu’s mouth, which can be quite painful. If a Degu has spurs, you need to get a vet to file them down.

– Diabetes

If your pet isn’t eating, it can be due to diabetes. There are several other symptoms of diabetes, which include cataracts, urinating, and increased drinking.

Degus are genetically susceptible to diabetes, and unfortunately, using insulin injections may not be effective. The best thing you can do to prevent diabetes in your Degu is to feed plenty of hay and less or no sugary diet.

Sugary foods can cause blood glucose spikes in Degus’ bodies. Avoid buying Degu pellets that contain molasses as they have high sugar content.

You need also to ensure that your Degu gets plenty of exercise as excessive weight increases diabetes risks.

Wrapping Up

Like with humans, eating the wrong type of food can have a negative impact on your Degu’s health. And as with humans, Degus love their meal, even if it isn’t good for them. Degus can eat anything; hence, you shouldn’t be deceived.

Degus can’t differentiate between food that is bad or good for them. Don’t rely on them to avoid toxic food. They will eat it and ignorantly cause health issues for themselves.

Ensure to provide your pet with a balanced diet, with lots of hay. And don’t be tempted to give them sugary treats!

avatar Jane
Jane is an experienced animal care specialist with a focus on rodents and small mammals, with over 10 years of experience in the pet industry. Her articles provide practical guidance on choosing the right pet and managing common health issues. Jane is an advocate for animal welfare and supports organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife. read more...

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