Degus in their natural habitats are herbivores that thrive on leaves, occasional seeds, and grasses. In the arid environment in which they live, the animals primarily feed on a high fiber diet.
In captivity, most people will opt for rodent pets other than degus believing that the dietary needs of the latter are complex and will make their care hard or expensive. Even so, a degu’s diet is quite simple in captivity.
Your pet degu’s main feed, also called its hard feed, should be pellets or a dry mix. The recommended options, in this case, are degu-specific feeds or quality guinea pig feeds. This is because these contain high amounts of minerals, vitamins, and other essential nutrients your pet will need.
Other than the hard feed, your degu needs water, hay, and leafy vegetables daily. Along with these dietary essentials, your pet needs occasional treats to deliver a few essential minerals for its health.
Degus can eat apples but only in moderation. Apples are among the foods to occasionally include in a degu’s diet as treats. Though they have a high sugar content that in excess might contribute to diabetes in your degu, apples are beneficial when given in moderation.
Apples are also good sources of dietary fiber and contain phloridzin, a chemical shown to prevent bone loss in animals. To guarantee they benefit rather than affect your pet, below is a guideline on the inclusion of apples in a degu’s diet.
Can Degus Eat Apple Seeds?
No, degus cannot eat apple seeds. The green light to give your degu an apple occasionally is good news for the animal because it loves the fruit. Even so, apple seeds are toxic to these small rodents because they contain some amount of cyanide.
The cyanide in various experiments in rodents has been shown to affect locomotion and brain function adversely. While the task of removing seeds from apples before feeding them to your degu seems like too much, it is a small price to pay for the safety of your pet when enjoying an apple.
You, however, need not peel the apple for your degu because the skin is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium. However, the best unpeeled apple for your pet is the organic one that contains no harmful chemicals.
Just remove the apple’s seeds, slice it then chop it into small manageable pieces for a degu before serving it.
Can Degus Eat Apple Leaves?
Yes, degus can eat apple leaves. Apple leaves have been shown to have phytochemicals that will improve the health of your degu when eaten in moderation. While you will come across different apple leaves when shopping, settle for the organic, unsprayed one.
With this choice, you will not be exposing your degu to the dangerous chemicals used in plant cultivation. With the high amount of fibers that apple leaves have, digestion of food is slowed down in your degu, and the animal does not experience any sudden sugar spikes that are typical when taking sugary treats.
Can Degus Drink Apple Juice?
Yes, degus can drink apple juice. It, after all, is just a concentrated form of the apple fruit they are allowed to eat in moderation. Even so, be careful about the type of apple juice you choose for your degu. Store-bought apple juice brands typically contain preservatives and other chemicals that might affect your pet.
The best choice is, therefore, freshly-squeezed apple juice. Even with this option, remember that the juice has very high amounts of sugar that will put your pet degu at risk of diabetes and kidney issues.
To prevent this, it is best to dilute the juice with an equal amount of water. A teaspoon of apple juice per week is generally enough for your degu.
How often should you feed apples to degus?
The leading risk when you feed apples in excess to your degu is contracting diabetes, a condition that is not only incurable but can also prove fatal when uncontrolled. Moreover, too many apples can cause diarrhea in your rodent.
Experts recommend giving your degu an apple slice that is the size of its head once or twice monthly. If your pet already has diabetes, apples should be negated from its diet. If there is any leftover apple in the degu’s cage after feeding, ensure it is removed since it can cause diseases if your pet feeds on it.
What are Other Safe Treats for Degus?
Everybody loves treats from time to time, and your degu is no exception. Too many treats given too often or the wrong kinds of treats can, however, affect your pet.
Other than apples, the following are some occasional treats you can include in a degu’s diet:
- Peanuts, sunflower seeds, whole nuts, and pumpkin nuts once or twice weekly. These seeds have high levels of fats and proteins that might cause liver or kidney damage when consumed in excess.
- Dry crispbreads such as crackers, and melba toasts that are packed with fiber while filing a degu’s teeth.
- Dried herbs, including a mix of parsley, dandelion, rose petals, hazel leaves, marigold, and other herbs are good treats that mirror a degu’s diet in the wild.
- Dried rosehips have high vitamin C amounts though they should only be given once weekly because some contain sugar.
With these tidbits, you are now sure of how best to include apples in your degu’s diet and what to expect. Remember to have specific times for the feeding of your degu. This is because it, like most rodents, thrives on a stable routine that it will slowly learn to anticipate.
You can incorporate the meal times into your degu’s training so that the animal’s appetite is at its peak, and it feeds well. Furthermore, pay attention to the portions of the main meals and treats for your degu.
With too much food available in captivity, a degu can easily overeat and leave you contending with obesity. Too little food, on the other hand, places your pet at risk of diseases because of weakened immunity.