Can Degus See in the Dark? How They See the World?

Degus are small, vocal rodents. These social creatures are native to Chile. In the wild, they live in small communities just like prairie dogs. These burrowing pets are one of the few rodents that are active during the day.

That is why many are wondering whether degus can see at night. Degus can see in the dark, but their eyesight is not very good during the night.

Depending on the environment, degus will be active at night, but they will not rely only on their vision.

In this article, I will explain how degus can navigate in the dark and how they see the world.

How do Degus Get Around at Night?

Most of the degus that are kept as pets have evolved to be diurnal. Just like humans, they are awake during the day and sleeping at night. Be that as it may, degus will not have a problem being in the dark. In fact, most of the things that they can do during the day can be achieved at night. But they tend to have somehow poor night vision.

The reason why they are able to see during the day and at night is that, just like most rodents, they don’t have to rely entirely on their sight to move around. They use other senses to get around in the dark. So, you can now stay assured that your pet will not hurt themselves by pumping into strange things in the dark just because they can’t see well.

You see, degus retinas come with two-rod cells and two types of cone cells. One of the cone cells tends to be sensitive to ultraviolet rays. This type of cell will not help them to see during the night. At night when there isn’t much direct light, they will use the other cone (color sensors). That is why they are able to see in the dark, though not so clearly.

Are Degus Afraid of Dark?

The short answer to this question is that degus are not necessarily afraid of darkness. In fact, some degus like being in the dark because the night is usually quieter, meaning that they can hear more.

That is why they can be able to play around at night without getting hurt or losing their way. Surprisingly, they are more active during the day and sleep most of the time at night. But if they have other pet rodents in the cage, degus will not have any problem playing with them during the night.

The only difference in degus vision during the day and night is that they will not seal all the details that they would normally see during the day. With that said, degus might appear to be afraid of the dark, especially when you introduce them to a new environment.

The reason they appear scared is that they take some time to adjust to their new habitat. So, they cry a little at night during their first few weeks when they hear sudden movements. The cry is an alert to their cage mates that there is an impending danger.

The good thing is that over time, they will get used to you making some movements at night. So, they will reduce the crying. To make them comfortable during the night, you can keep several degus in one cage. Actually, they don’t love staying or playing alone.

This is especially the case when it comes to sleeping. These creatures love sleeping on top of each other. Besides being comfortable for them, this habit also makes them feel safe and happy while they are sleeping in the dark because they know that they have each other for comfort.

Do Degus Need Light at Night?

Unless they were active during the day, your degus might not need light at night. Otherwise, they will not differentiate between day and night. It is crucial to put them on a balanced schedule of day and night.

This way, they will be able to be in the sun during the day, then go to sleep. In other words, it will be easier for your pet to sync their sleeping schedule with your sleep pattern.

If you don’t train them to sleep at night, they might not sleep fully throughout the night. They will keep playing around the cage with other friends and only rest when they are tired.

Degus can also snack and drink in the dark. In fact, some degus prefer to eat and drink more at night because there are fewer disturbances.

Do Degus Need Darkness to Sleep?

While most degus tend to sleep more at night, they won’t mind adapting to new sleeping habits. Some degus are crepuscular, meaning that they are active during twilight periods. They might sleep for short periods at night and during the day, and then be active at dusk and dawn.

That is why no one degu is the same. Some will sleep more during the night because they have been accustomed to while others will sleep in short intervals during the day and night. In short, degus might not need darkness or light to sleep.

So, if you want to keep a rodent and still want to enjoy a good night’s sleep, you will be safe with a degu. Be sure to make your degu active during the day, so that they can sleep more during the night.

Can Degus See Colors?

Typically, degus don’t see the world as humans see it. The reason is that these burrowing creatures can only see two colors. One of the colors that a degu can see is ultraviolet and the other one is green. As you can imagine, the world must be so different for a degu.

The good thing with degus is that their belly fur can reflect ultraviolet light. This way, they can communicate or signal each other over long ranges without any sound.


Degus are interesting creatures that love to socialize and play all day. They are unique in that most rodents tend to be nocturnal while degus are largely diurnal. So, if you have been looking for a rodent that will not interfere with your sleep at night, degus might be ideal for you.

Given that degus have been domesticated for a short time, most people are still learning how to take care of them. But the good news is that these rodents are very adaptive to new environments.

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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