PG 70 SMALL WON­DER

Pets (Singapore) - - Contents - BY CHRISTIANN PRIYANKA

Degu

small, adorable and fluffy, De­gus are one of four species of rat­like South Amer­i­can ro­dents found pri­mar­ily in the lower western slopes of the An­des Moun­tains. They are one of the most com­mon mam­mals found in Cen­tral Chile. Its name de­rives from the lan­guage indige­nous to Chile, Ma­pudun­gun.

Un­like most ro­dents, De­gus are di­ur­nal. They are ac­tive dur­ing the day, es­pe­cially in the morn­ings and late af­ter­noons. These ro­dents are ex­tremely in­tel­li­gent and can adapt to dif­fer­ent sleep­ing pat­terns. De­gus have out­stand­ing vi­sion and can even see ul­tra­vi­o­let light.

De­gus form close bonds with their own­ers, es­pe­cially when han­dled daily. They need to be re­warded with treats dur­ing han­dling, so they don’t nip their own­ers. These crit­ters can recog­nise their paw-rents and oth­ers of their kind by sight and sound, and will even stand up to greet them upon recog­ni­tion. These lov­able pets are even known to groom their paw-rents to show their af­fec­tion. They also love to be stroked.

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing us­ing up to 15 unique sounds, De­gus chat­ter, squeak and make war­bling noises—depend­ing on their mood—to tell each other and their pawrents how they are feel­ing.

While this crit­ter has an adorable tuft of fur at the end of its tail, it is not just for aes­thetic pur­poses. When feel­ing threat­ened in the wild, a Degu will drop the fur on its tails in or­der to dis­tract preda­tors. Al­though this phe­nom­e­non is in­ter­est­ing, it is painful for the an­i­mal, as it will chew the end of its tail in or­der to pre­vent any sort of in­fec­tion. Hence, it is im­por­tant not to lift this ro­dent by the tail, as it could cause distress. It also needs to be held close to its han­dler's body be­cause it dis­likes hav­ing its legs dan­gle.

With con­tin­u­ously grow­ing teeth, it

Found on the slopes of the An­des Moun­tains, these tiny crit­ters love to "talk" to their paw-rents and fel­low De­gus.

is im­por­tant to pro­vide De­gus with chews so they can constantly gnaw on some­thing. Since they like to chew, it is rec­om­mended that they be housed in metal or se­cure en­clo­sures. Oth­er­wise, they might chew their way out.

As De­gus are sen­si­tive to di­etary sug­ars, they may de­velop di­a­betes. They may also suf­fer from cataracts, di­ar­rhoea, and over­grown or im­pacted teeth.

A highly ac­tive crea­ture, it is rec­om­mended that your Degu has some su­per­vised ex­er­cise out­side of its cage. In terms of diet, this crit­ter is strictly herbivore. Avoid fresh fruits, as they con­tain too much sugar.

While De­gus are adorable and fun to keep as pets, they are not rec­om­mended for any­one un­der 16 years of age as they are not easy crit­ters to care for. It is also im­por­tant to note that De­gus are con­sid­ered to be ex­otic pets, and while Sin­ga­pore has lim­i­ta­tions on such pets, De­gus are not found on this list. Re­gard­less, it is cru­cial that you check with the Agri-Food and Ve­teri­nary Author­ity of Sin­ga­pore be­fore adopt­ing one.

FAST FACTS • Size Small; 170 to 300g. • Colours Yel­low­ish brown with a pale yel­low spot above and be­low each eye, and a black­tipped tail. • Groom­ing fre­quency Low; pro­vide a dust bath. • Ex­er­cise Ac­tive; needs ex­er­cise out­side of the cage as...

LIV­ING WORLD NIBBLERS WOOD CHEWS KIWI STICKS Over­grown teeth can cause dis­com­fort and pain in your Degu, so pro­vide him with these nat­u­ral kiwi branches to gnaw on. Avail­able at neko­jam.com. SUPREME TINY FRIENDS FARM BATHING SAND Con­tain­ing 100...

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