The Common Degu (Octodon degus) is a small rodent from Chile, related to the chinchilla and guinea pig. It is a mammal.
The Common Degu has brown fur with a creamy-yellow underbelly, and yellow around the eyes. It has a paler band around the neck. It has a long, thin tail with a tufted, black tip, dark sparsely furred ears, and pale grey toes. Its fifth toe is small with a nail, rather than a claw, on the fore feet. Its hind feet are bristled. Its cheek teeth are shaped like figures of eight – and that’s the meaning of Octodon.
It grows to about 25-30 centimetres (10-12 inches) long.
The Common Degu is highly social. It lives in burrows. Degus dig together and form digging chains.
It forages for food on the surface, on the ground. It is a herbivore, eating grass, shrubs, seeds, and leaves. During very hot weather, it stays in the burrow to keep cool, and feeds in the early morning and evenings.
Females are pregnant for about 90 days, before giving birth to 2-12 young, called pups. The pups are born precocial, which means that they are fully furred at birth, with eyes open. Females nurse one another’s young, and males also look after the young until the pups are old enough to leave the burrow.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM