Do Degus Stink? Ways to Combat Degu Smell

Most people looking for pets will prefer rodents. This is primarily because their small sizes mean fewer care needs. Though in the past people often settled for hamsters, mice, and guinea pigs, they now prefer degus.

These are small burrowing rodents that are natives of Chile. They are curious and social animals that are diurnal, meaning they will not keep you up at night.

In general, degus are low-maintenance animals that need food and water replenishment every two days along with periodic cage cleaning. One of the things you have to contend with as a degu owner is the smell of your pet’s cage.

The smell is often attributed to the animal’s urine, bacterial proliferation in cages, poop more so when your pet is on a wet diet, spoiled foods, and the oils used for pet grooming.

Though most rodents have urine with a strong smell, degus do not produce as much urine as other rodents. As such, degus do not have a very strong smell as hamsters or pet mice, but sometimes they can stink.

Below are some tidbits on the smell associated with degus so that you know what to expect when getting one.

3 Way to Reduce the Degu Bad Smell

Though the smell of degus is not as overpowering as that of other rodents, it would be nice to have a pleasantly smelling cage when keeping these animals as pets.

Here are three ways through which you can reduce the degu smell in your interiors:

– Use the Right Bedding

The substrate you choose for your degu’s cage is much like the carpet or flooring for your home. The wrong choice will accumulate a lot of pet smells and leave the cage smelling unpleasant despite your constant cleaning attempts.

The substrate serves as the bedding material for your degu, creates a soft walking surface for the animal, and lets your pet burrow tunnels in its cage. When choosing it, consider its toxicity, allergenic and absorbent properties.

The material should also be lightweight and easy to clean. Some of your best bedding materials for a degu’s cage include wood shavings, paper-based substrates, and wood pulp substrate.

– Change the Bedding Often

All rodent cages need spot cleaning at least once daily. A deep clean and a change of the beddings will depend on the rodent type you have.

With a degu, you can deep clean the cage and change the beddings every 1-2 weeks. However, use your nose as the guide to how frequently your degu’s bedding should be changed.

– Use Deep Bedding

Degus love burrowing and building tunnels in their cages. Opt for deep bedding to support this behavior and absorb as much pet droppings as possible to keep the cage odor-free.

Do Degus Smell More Than Hamsters?

No, degus do not smell more than hamsters. On a smell rating scale, experts place hamsters at 5/5 while degus are placed at 3/5. In the wild, hamsters live in dry regions and will thus consume more water than degus.

As such, they produce more urine compared to the latter. The higher urine capacity in hamsters is also attributed to their larger body sizes compared to those of degus.

Moreover, the urine from a hamster has a strong smell and is not as readily absorbed by the pet’s bedding since the animal pees on its exercise wheel, or plastic tunnels rather than the bedding. For these reasons, you are better off choosing a hamster if you are intent on as little smell as possible in your rodent’s cage.

Do Male Degus Have A Stronger Smell?

Yes, male degus have a stronger smell compared to females. Generally, male rodents use their urine to mark their territories. The pheromone trail this leaves lets the other rodents know which male lives in a particular cage.

The urine’s scent can also be used to identify specific traits of a rodent, including its age, sex, and health.  Thankfully, a degu’s pee will sit for some time before it starts smelling hence giving you some leeway to clean it and leave the cage odor-free.

Male degus also use poop when marking their territories. Fortunately, their poop is nearly odorless.

Which Small Pets Stink Less Than Degus?

There are no rodents that are completely odor-free, but some are less smelly than others. The two small pets that are less stinky than degus are chinchillas and gerbils. These two animals live in deserts and are used to drinking very little water.

Their minimal water consumption translates to minimal urine production. Moreover, the poop of gerbils and chinchillas is almost odorless. If you remove the poop immediately you see it and clean the cage periodically, the cages of chinchillas and gerbils will not smell.

Therefore, these animals can be ideal alternatives to degus for those intent on a minimal smell when keeping a rodent. Even so, remember that their personalities and other care needs are different from those of degus.

To further minimize smells in the cages of degus, chinchillas and gerbils, have a bowl filled with pet-safe sand where the rodents can have a bath.


With the information above, degu owners now know what to expect in regards to the smells of their pets’ cages. When keeping a degu, you should also ensure that its cage is well-ventilated to maximize air circulation while minimizing odors.

You can also consider keeping fewer animals in the cage and training your rodent to pee or poop in the same place so that it is easy to see the poop or spot clean to get rid of urine smell. Before heading to a pet store, breeder, or adoption center to get your pet degu, consider your state laws.

In some states, the rodents are considered potentially invasive species and thus illegal to keep as pets. A few states will need a health certificate or permit before they allow you to keep a pet degu.

When choosing your degu at the store, opt for one with a dry mouth, eyes, and nose. Cloudy eyes, a watery mouth, and nasal discharge are the common signs of infections in degus.

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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