Do Degus Bite? Things to Do if Degu Bites You

Most rodents have sharp teeth that will grow throughout their lives. Degus are no exceptions with their large sharp teeth that scare most kids. They might make weird noise when they are in distress but rarely become aggressive.

Even though, these animals are among the most social and friendly pet rodents you can choose, degus can bite their owners or their mates.

The following tidbits will help you understand this worrying behavior and know how best to deal with it.

What to Do When You Get Bitten By a Degu?

The first reaction for most people when they get bitten by a degu is, of course, surprise and trying to move away from the animal. Even so, your first step should be getting your pet to realize that this behavior is unwelcome.

Your best choice is to remain calm and not attempt to move the body part the animal is biting until it stops doing so. Squeak or whistle so that the degu knows that the bite is hurting you. Waving your limbs with your degu still biting you will only make it more agitated.

Degu bites sometimes transfer bacteria into your bloodstream and should be handled in the same way as other animal bites. The following are some steps you should take to manage the bite:

  • Clean the wound by washing it under warm running water.
  • Apply an antibacterial cream or wash the bite area with antibacterial soap.
  • Wrap the bit area with a bandage to protect it from microorganisms and foreign materials.
  • Get a tetanus injection since animal bites sometimes cause tetanus.
  • Severe bite wounds might need stitches and a course of antibiotics to heal properly.

Remember that, like other rodents, a degu might carry diseases like leptospirosis, salmonellosis, and LCMV that it can transmit to humans through its bite. Keep your pet vaccinations updated to protect yourself against these diseases.

Why Does Your Degu Bite?

As prey animals, degus have little to defend themselves against predators in the wild. They often run and hide in their burrows when they meet a predator. However, a pet degu does not have much room to run and hide in its cage.

Even when you have no ill intentions towards it, the animal might bite you when it is scared, stressed, or in an unfamiliar environment. In most instances, pet degus are scared when someone tries to pick them up from their cages from above.

They interpret this as a predator bird trying to harm them and will squirm, try to get loose, and sometimes bite you.

Degus might also sometimes accidentally bite you when you try breaking them up when fighting. These accidental bites are usually relatively deep and bleed. A few degus bite their owners’ fingers when they smell something good on them and want to taste it. Thankfully, these bites don’t hurt.

Do Degus Bite Each Other?

Yes, degus can bite each other. Most degus will bite each other when they live in cramped quarters with other degus since they become territorial. In particular, male degus are quite hostile towards each other and thus best housed in separate cages.

Though disputes among degus can lead to biting, the animals will, in most cases, resort to squealing, noisy teeth grinding, and snarling when fighting.

How to Stop Your Degu from Biting?

Biting in your degu is a distressing habit. Even so, the animal will rarely bite suddenly. To keep your degu from biting, it is best to learn the warning signs of the behavior. This way, you can interpret your pet’s feelings and act appropriately before it bites. Here are some warning signs you can look out for:

Vocalizations – Some of the sounds you can interpret as warning signs for a bite include:

  • Alarm calls that are generally loud squeaks.
  • Snarling and growling.
  • Chattering of teeth.

Body Language – If you notice that your degu is frightened and trying to escape or is wagging its tail, these are common body language clues that often precede bites. Raised hairs that make a degu look larger than it is are also common when the animal is scared and about to bite as a means of defense.

When you notice these signs, remove the threat causing them so that your degu calms down. Moreover, before handling the animal, wash your hands so that their smell does not cause the rodent to bite your fingers.

How to Handle Your Pet Degu to Avoid Biting?

When your degu has a lot of physical contact and interaction with humans from an early age, it can develop a gentle temperament. Therefore, it will not mind when someone holds it. Moreover, the degu will not bite as long as it is held correctly.

Never hold a degu by its tail. When you do this, the animal interprets the handling as a threat and will try to defend itself. Most degus whirl around rapidly and might bite the person holding its tail as it desperately tries to flee. The tails of a few degus will fall off as they try to flee. Unfortunately, the lost tail will never grow back.

Carefully pick a degu from its cage by placing your thumb behind its front legs and the fingers over its back. You should then lift the animal gently while supporting its hind legs using your free hand.

It is best to hold a degu on your laps or chest where it can comfortably sit for a long time. This guarantees the pet remains comfortable and does not bite when being handled.


The fear of bites by a degu should not keep you from getting one. Thanks to the above information, you know how to handle the bite and prevent it. Therefore, you can expect an enjoyable time with your degu.

However, if the biting persists in your degu, it is best to work with an animal behavioral specialist to stop it before another animal or the members of your family get seriously hurt.

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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