Species Spotlight: Degu


Habitat: Endemic to central Chile in South America

Diet: Herbivore. Eats grass, leaves, bark, and seeds.

Size: Small. Length up to 12 inches. Weight up to 12oz.

Classification: Class Mammalia, Order Rodentia, Suborder Hystrichognathi, Parvorder Caviomorpha, Family Octodontidae, Genus Octodon, Species Degus.

Degus are highly social rodents that are often kept as pets. They are endemic to Chile, meaning that they are found in the wild only in this country. Since their diet consists of plant matter, usually high in fiber, degus do not readily digest sugars. Because of this, they may develop diabetes quite easily. Before these animals gained popularity in the pet industry, they were used in research for diabetic treatments and studies.

Degus are very intelligent and are great escape artists. They can use tools and have been found to stack items according to size. Like other rodents, their teeth grow continuously; however, they chew constantly, which grinds down their teeth and keeps them at the right size. Unlike mice and rats, these animals cannot be picked up by the tail: it will fall off and will not grow back. Similar to rabbits, the degus use coprophagy to get as many nutrients from their diet as possible.

Written by Megan Beaver

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About Akron Fossils & Science Center

Akron Fossils & Science Center features hands-on tours and science activities that put knowledge directly in your hands. Our exhibits display many fossils from Ohio and around the world. In addition to our guided tours, we offer a wide variety of enriching science programs, all hands-on and designed to make science and learning fun and meaningful. We also look forward to having you enjoy our 2 1/2 acre outdoor adventure park called Truassic Park. Our park features a 9-hole mini golf course, giant slide, and 200 FT ZIP- LINE! At Akron Fossils & Science Center, participants and visitors become more than observers; they become researchers, experimenters, and even educators. Our exhibits and programs let you experience science first-hand and encourage understanding and deep, critical thought. A trip to Akron Fossils & Science Center provides more than something to do for one day; it ignites a passion for learning and exploration that lasts a lifetime.

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