Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Giant Gerbil!

So awhile back I was wandering through a small family owned pet shop in my city called Papa Jim's Tropical Fish and I came across a very interesting little critter that I just have to tell you guys about!

Despite the pet shop's name, they do not only sell tropical fish. They have a variety of fish, aquatic creatures, both big and tiny, lizards, hermit crabs, snakes, scorpions, birds, puppies, kittens, and small animals. And by small animals I mean everything from hamsters and mice to bunnies and ferrets! While I was checking out a really cool iguana, I overheard these two boys from around the corner talking. "Check it out!" One kept saying. "I've never seen a gerbil that big!" The other exclaimed. So I made my way to the small animal area just in time to see the two boys leaving. I walked up to a tank and instantly knew what they were talking about! It was an animal I'd only ever read about. A South American Degu! I had never seen one in person before, and was hypnotized by it's adorableness. It scurried around the cage and burrowed into the bedding to show off it's cuteness.
South American Degu
The South American Degu
The South American Degu is a small animal that originated in the lowland areas of Chile in South America. They are brown in color and have long thin tails. They closely resemble gerbils-well, if gerbils grew up to five to seven inches long that is. Degus are very social, inquisitive animals, and they can be very vocal, just as Guinea Pigs. The South American Degu has something very unique about it: when threatened  it can disconnect it's tail as a distraction letting it escape predators. Kinda sounds like a lizard, huh? Only, the Degu isn't as lucky as a lizard, and does not grow it's tail back, so this is a one time thing.

Degu Care
Degus are unique little creatures that require special care. When handling them, the handler must be genlt, as their tails are delicate and can be shed. Unless you want a tailless little Degu, you should be cautious when around one.

Feeding: A Degu's diet consists of a combination of hay and pellets. Since they are so closely related to Guinea Pigs, they can be fed Guinea Pig  food. They typically like corn, carrots, and sweet potatoes, but these should only be fed on occasion. Sunflower seeds, peanuts, and raisins make for good treats. Fruits should rarely or never be offered as they can lead to diarrhea and/or diabetes. Small amounts of fresh grass can be provided as well, though the Degu may just use it as nesting materials. Degu's teeth never stop growing so untreated wood blocks should be provided for them to chew on.

Housing: The South American Degu is a small animal that loves to climb, so wired cages are better for them than tanks. They are very active so they require plenty of space to move around. They enjoy playing in PVC pipes, clay pots, cardboard boxes and tubes, and brown paper bags. The bottom of their cage should be filled with a thick layer of aspen wood shavings.

Cleaning: Degus are naturally clean animals and have little odor. Their cage should be cleaned at least once a week and spot cleaned throughout the week when needed. Degus keep themselves clean but enjoy sand baths. Sand baths consist of an inch or so of Chinchilla sand in a shoe box or bath house.

Breeding: Degus should only be bred by an experienced handler. They have a gestation period of 90 days and usually produce up to two litters a year, that may consist of one to ten offspring. Baby Degus are called pups, and are born with fur, and their eyes open.

I hope you all found this interesting! :)) Until next time!

No comments:

Post a Comment