In general, food is a significant part of bonding with your pet degu. After all, when starved, most degus will try to escape, become hostile, and are generally cranky.
These are traits that can make them the worst of pets. In their natural habitats, the animals are herbivores that live on occasional seeds, grass, and leaves. Their arid environments also allow them to get a high fiber diet that keeps their guts healthy.
In captivity, you can replicate this natural diet with hay, fresh vegetables, herbs, and pellets. Other than these, give your degu enough clean water to keep it well-hydrated throughout.
Other than the basic foods, your degu will be more than happy to get a few treats in its diet. The treats can be used to reinforce some positive habits or even endear you to a degu.
Most people assume that pet treats should be unhealthy foods loaded with sugar, but this is not so. There are also healthy treats that are readily available, and that your degu will love.
The leading alternatives, in this case, are nuts and seeds. There are many types of nuts and seeds that degus can eat.
The following are some facts that will boost your understanding of nuts and seeds which you can include in a degu’s diet.
Seeds That are Safe for Degus
The most popular safe seeds for degus are pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Pumpkin seeds comprise 45% fat (mostly omega 6 fats) and 25% protein. They are also high in antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, B vitamins, and copper.
In moderation, pumpkin seeds reduce inflammation, improve fertility, and promote bone health in degus. Sunflower seeds comprise 51% fats (primarily omega 6) and 21% protein.
They are excellent sources of B vitamins, vitamin E, selenium, iron, zinc, and copper. Sunflower seeds boost a healthy immune system, support bone health, and improve the appearance of a degu’s fur.
Nuts That are Safe for Degus
Nuts are nutrient-rich fruits that grow in inedible shells. They contain polyunsaturated fats, omega 3 fatty acids, and monounsaturated fats. While these are healthy fats, rodents have been shown to suffer obesity and other health issues when put on high-fat diets.
This makes too many nuts health risks for degus. In moderation, nuts boost the minerals needed for the formation of a healthy immune system in your degu. They also boost the animal’s dietary selenium, copper, and zinc.
These minerals are sometimes low in commercial feeds. Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, and unsalted peanuts are your best options for a degu’s treats.
How Often can Degus Eat Seeds and Nuts?
Though healthy, nuts and seeds are only given as occasional treats. This is because of their high protein and fat quantities that place your degu at risk of liver or kidney issues when fed in excess. Small seeds like sunflower and pumpkin seeds are ideally given once or twice weekly.
Give a degu one or two small seeds per feed. Nuts are larger than seeds and thus best given once weekly. You can give a degu one large peanut per week.
Whole hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, and walnuts are larger than peanuts. It is best to only give one of them to your degu once monthly to avoid a fat or protein overload.
Can Degus Chew Through Walnut Shells?
Yes, degus can chew through walnut shells. Whole walnuts come in gnarly shells that are hard to break. Instead of breaking them for your degu, give them to your pet in their shell.
This way, the rodent can have fun taking time to break the shell so that it gets to the nut and will file its continually growing incisors in the process. The same can be done for whole hazelnuts. As such, walnuts and hazelnuts can become sources of enrichment in your degu’s environment.
Can Degus Eat Almonds?
No, you should not give your degu almonds. Though these nuts are high in vitamin E, fiber, antioxidants, calcium, iron, and selenium, they also contain cyanide. In fact, cyanide is renowned for its “bitter almond” smell.
When ingested, cyanide in degus causes a decrease in motor function because of its neurotoxicity.
This is often evidenced by decreased spontaneous locomotion and general activity levels in the affected animal. Getting your pet degu to a vet as quickly as possible when you notice these symptoms is essential.
Can Degus Eat Fruit Seeds?
No, your degu should not eat fruit seeds. Research has shown that the digestive systems of degus can tolerate small amounts of fruit. In fact, these rodents love fruits because of their high sugar content.
An occasional bite of fruit, typically once monthly, is enough for a degu. Even so, be careful when feeding fruits with seeds to your degu. Kiwis, peaches, apples, nectarines, grapes, and pears should be fed to degus cautiously.
This is because the seeds of these fruits, like almonds, contain cyanide. Take time to ensure you get rid of all the seeds in the fruits before giving them to your pet.
With the facts above, you now know that giving a degu treats does not mean overstretching the budget you put aside for the animal’s care. Provided you get the portions of the nuts and seeds right along with their recommended feeding frequencies, you are sure that they will not harm your beloved rodent.
Other than the treats, take time to pick a good commercial feed for your pet. In most cases, some feeds will cause even more harm than too many nuts and seeds. Do not assume that hamster and gerbil feeds suffice for a degu because they are also rodents.
Hamster and gerbil feeds have high protein amounts that can damage a degu’s kidneys. Other pet owners will opt to mix some commercial feeds for their degus, something that might not only endanger the rodent’s life but also cause nutritional deficiencies.
Thankfully, there are now degu-specific commercial feeds in most pet stores at affordable prices. Take time to look for them or ask your local pet store or vet where you can get these feeds.