New pets are fantastic companions, but, at times, the excitement associated with them wears off when you find out the care needs that come with your pet. It is, therefore, advisable to know as much as you can about an animal before choosing it for a pet.
The degu is one of the currently popular rodent pets. While it is quite social and friendly, most people underestimate how big it can grow. The pet owners thus invest in cages that prove too small for their rodents or do not set aside enough space for the degu. These mistakes stress the animal and might make you regret getting it.
Degus grow to approximately 10-12 inches (25-30 cm) from their noses to the tips of their tails. They weigh about 10 ounces (300 g). Their small sizes make degus ideal for older kids and adults.
This is because they are too small for young children to hold tightly, and if they slip from the child’s hands, the animals often become aggressive.
Below are a few facts that will answer the questions you might have concerning your degu’s size.
Baby Degu Size
Degus can reproduce when they reach 53-55 weeks old. The average weight of female degus at conception is 205 g in the wild, but in captivity, it is advisable to wait until they get to 220 g. The pregnancy lasts for three months, and the female will get about 3-10 pups.
Newborn degus weigh 8-17 g with an average of 15 g. Pups grow at about 1-3 g daily during the first two weeks then increase 5-15 g daily from weeks 2-6. The largest increase in a baby degu’s body mass happens when it is between 4-8 weeks old.
After birth, the pups only need their mother’s milk since it contains all the essential nutrients. Suckling should continue for not less than three weeks for your pup to get immunity and strength.
You can start introducing weaning foods slowly at six days though these will not be fully digested until the pup is fifteen days old. With the right nutritional start to life, a baby degu will steadily gain weight and grow.
How Fast Do Degus Grow?
Degus will be fully grown when they turn four months old. It is best to introduce them to other degus before this time so that the incidences of in-fighting are reduced.
Getting a pet degu that is less than four months old is also advisable because the animal will be better accustomed to its surroundings. Even so, the growth rate of degus will depend on several factors. Here are a few of them:
- Pregnancy: Some pet shops do not correctly sex degus and might sell you a pregnant one believing it is male. A pregnant female degu will, of course, look bigger than an average degu.
- Age difference: Degus continue growing slowly until they reach their full adult weight and size at about 58 weeks or a year old. The weights and sizes of two degus below a year old will thus differ until they reach adulthood.
- Genetics: Genes affect different elements that determine the size and weight of your degu, like its metabolic rate.
- Food intake: Ensuring your degu has enough food to support its growth is essential. Even so, be careful not to overfeed it as this can cause obesity.
- Health issues: Liver and kidney diseases affect the degu’s efficiency in burning calories after it eats. They will also often affect the absorption of fats and proteins. These effects reduce the size and weight of your degu.
Degu Size and Weight Compared to Other Small Pets
Most pet owners think that there is not much difference in the weights or sizes of degus and other small pets. Here is a table that will help you easily compare these elements and make the right choice of a pet in relation to your available space.
|Degu||10 oz (300 g)||9-12 in (23-30 cm)|
|Guinea Pig||32 oz (900 g)||8-10 in (20-25 cm)|
|Mouse||1.2 oz (35 g)||5-7 in (13-18 cm)|
|Ferret||50 oz (1.5 kg)||13-16 in (35-40 cm)|
|Chinchilla||25 oz (700 g)||10-14 in (25-35 cm)|
|Sugar Glider||5 oz (140 g)||5-6 in (13-15 cm)|
|Gerbil||2 oz (60 g)||6-12 in (13-30 cm)|
|Hamster||6 oz (160 g)||5-7 in (13-18 cm)|
Can Degus Become Overweight?
Yes, degus can become overweight. This places them at a high risk of contracting diabetes. It is advisable to regularly weigh your degus and chart the values so that you are sure they are within the healthy weight range.
If a non-pregnant degu is above 250 g, here are some steps to reduce its weight to a healthy one:
- Remove its treats such as nuts because these are usually high in proteins and fats.
- Be strict in keeping the quantity of its hard feed to 10g/adult degu/day.
- Increase the toys inside a degu’s cage for its exercise and take it out of its cage often.
- Train the animal to perform some tricks so that it maximizes activity while stimulating its mind.
Will Degus Stay Small When Kept In A Small Cage?
No, a small cage will not make your degu stay small. The minimum cage size when housing two degus is 24 x 18 x 24 inches. A larger cage than this is a perfect choice. Thankfully, degu cages are inexpensive.
When dealing with an overweight animal, some degu owners will choose to let it stay in a small cage believing that this “squeezes” its body to shape. This, however, is erroneous thinking.
The small cage only makes a degu stressed in its surroundings and leaves you with a pet with which you want to spend as little time as possible.
Moreover, letting your degu live in a cramped cage is quite cruel. Some of the signs of stress in a degu include repeated attempts to escape and loud squeals.
Size and weight might not be significant considerations when choosing most pets, but this is not so for a degu. It, after all, is a pocket pet, and too big of one will not fit in your palms or pocket.
Fortunately, with the above information, you know what to anticipate when keeping a degu and how best to keep it within a healthy size or weight.