While Degus may not be the most popular pets, they are lovely little creatures that can capture your heart with their gentle behaviors and outgoing personalities. Unlike other small rodents, the degu has a long lifespan.
Their lifespan is one of the longest of pet rodents. If you’re looking to get a Degu or already have one, you’ll need to know how long they live. A pet’s lifespan plays a major role when preparing for them.
Keeping a Degu as a pet is a long-term commitment that requires you to be ready to care for them for about a decade. But you won’t be disappointed if you decide to get one. These small rodents can become affectionate when bonded and are lovely to watch.
You’ll want to keep them for as long as possible. In this article, you’ll know more about Degu lifespan, factors that affect their lifespan, and how to extend their lifespan.
Degu Lifespan in the Wild
Degus in the wild have a shorter life expectancy than those in captivity. Generally, wild Degus can live between one and four years. Surprisingly, most of them usually die in the first year.
Their shortened lifespan in the wild is due to several dangers they’re exposed to, including diseases, ingestion of pesticides in farms, and predators.
Lifespan in Captivity
In captivity, a Degu is still considered young when it’s about a year old. They become adults when they reach about 2 or 3 years old.
The Degu is a long-living rodent, and with proper care and sheer luck, may live up to 10 years. However, the average lifespan of captive degus is about 5 to 9 years.
Factors that Affect Degu’s Lifespan
Although degus have a relative long lifespan, compared to other rodents, there are various factors, which will reduce their lifespan:
Genetic inheritance plays a major role in Degu’s life expectancy. Unfortunately, Degus can develop some of these common hereditary health conditions.
Degus are susceptible to diabetes mellitus, which is similar to Type 2 diabetes. This kind of diabetes causes the cells in the pancreas to stop producing or using insulin.
Symptoms include excessive drinking and excessive urination. It may result in islet amyloidosis, a condition that affects the pancreas (other rodent species don’t experience it).
– Beta-amyloid Deposits
The Degu is susceptible to beta-amyloid deposit development, which can cause Alzheimer’s disease.
Degus are sometimes used in labs as models for this Alzheimer’s disease since they usually experience degenerative cortical changes due to their age, just like the human disease progression.
Unfortunately, several Degus in captivity usually experience Alzheimer’s symptoms. While the jury is still out, many scientists believe it’s inevitable for the rodents.
– Eye Problems
Degus are prone to lesions on the eye lens, cataracts, and several other eye conditions.
These issues can be caused by several factors, though a genetic disposition is believed to be among them. Some of these common eye conditions in Degus may actually be caused by diabetes.
– Teeth and Skin Problems
Degus may experience dental diseases that can result in health issues, such as cheek teeth elongation and incisor malocclusion.
Rodents often develop dental problems due to their continually growing teeth. If they don’t get the right foods to wear down these teeth, dental issues may worsen.
A 2009 study on the death of captive Degus showed that many of these little rodents developed skin issues, such as skin alopecia, caused by fur-chewing or self-mutilation. It can be a result of care issues or boredom.
Fur chewing is a repetitive, stereotypic activity that often results in Degu health problems. You can reduce this tendency with adequate attention and proper activity.
– Other Health Problems
Degus can get parasites.
- Male Degus can develop penile prolapse, while females may have reproduction problems.
- Some Degus can die of gastrointestinal problems, including pancreatitis and liver failure.
- They are prone to Bumblefoot, a condition caused by uneven contact with a wire cage.
- They can also develop arthritis.
How to Improve the Life Expectancy of Your Degu?
With proper care, you can easily avoid many of the issues listed above and help your Degu live a healthy, long life. Here are a few ways to give your pet a headstart:
- If you buy from a breeder, ensure to ask questions about any health issues with the Degu and its family tree.
- Feed them a nutritious, balanced diet specifically made for Degus, provide large quantities of hay, and avoid giving them sugary treats.
- Keep the Degus in groups or pairs, as they’re very social and will perform better with company.
- Have your pet checked up yearly by an exotic pet vet.
- Spend quality time with them. Degus are companionable, and they’ll enjoy interacting with you.
- Ensure their cage has a level, solid floor to avoid any bumblefoot issue.
- Enrich your Degu’s life with suitable toys, human attention, and shelters to prevent fur-chewing.
- If your Degu stops eating, get them checked at the vet’s immediately as they may be experiencing tooth issues or gastrointestinal distress.
- Be careful and slow when hanging them. Never grab a Degu, especially by their tail. These animals dislike being held but prefer climbing and sitting on you.
Longest Living Degu
If you search the Internet, you might find results showing degus live up to 18 years, but there’s insufficient official information on the longest living Degus in captivity.
According to Wikipedia, there was a report of a 13 year-old degu, though that’s all I found in terms of the longest living Degus, and there is no evidence proving this fact.
However, Degus are among the longest living rodent species. If your octodon baby receives proper care, it may be around for several years!
Do Degus Die Easily?
The Degu’s lifespan depends on several factors, such as diet, environment, and genetics.
In the wild, Degus are exposed to dangers like predators and ingestion of pesticides, which makes them die easily. However, due to proper care and fewer dangers in captivity, they tend to live longer.
Knowing your Degus average life expectancy might help you decide whether they are ideal for your home and how much quality of life you can provide.
Understanding the factors that affect their life lifespan can also help you extend it by providing opportunities for exercise, giving them companionship, and feeding them appropriately.