Submitted by GSPCA on 11:11, 12th Jul, 2013 | 0

On the 15th June the GSPCA accepted two lovely, healthy, female Degu's that an owner could no longer care for with what we thought were 5 babies

Martha and Mary as they are named are fantastic little characters and the team quickly became very fond of them.

With any new mother Shelter staff and volunteers try to ensure they are not disturbed and kept in a quiet place at first.

After a couple of days staff took a much closer look and were surprised to find much more than 5 but in fact there were 10 babies from one of these lovely female Degu's.

Unfortunately one of the young did not survive but the other 9 which were born in mid June are doing very well.

Degu's are seasonal breeders with the breeding season for wild Degu's starting in the Chilean autumn when there is roughly 12 hours light to 12 hours darkness, with their pups being born in early to mid spring.

Female Degu's are pregnant for approximately ninety days, having a comparatively long gestation period (like Chinchilla's and Guinea Pig's) compared to other non-caviomorph rodents.

Their weight varies when pregnant over the course of gestation and according to litter size litters contain an average of six pups, but size can range from one or two up to twelve young.

Amazingling Degu pups are born relatively precocial, fully furred and with eyes open, and their auditory and visual systems are functional at birth.  Unlike most other rodents, male Degu's also take part in protecting and raising their pups until they are old enough to leave the family.

With these babies there is no Dad but both Martha and Mary have taken part in looking after the very 9 young.

Staff have called the nine babies Onzie, Twozie, Threezie, Fourzie, Fivezie, Sixzie, Sevenzie, Eightzie and Ninezie.

Nearly three weeks after the Degu's arived at the GSPCA staff walked in one morning to find not 11 but 16 Degu's after the second female had given birth to a further 5 babies.

All are doing very well and the second litter have been called Bailey, Wicked, Gin, Smirnoff and Guiness.

The GSPCA are now appealing first of all for large Chinchilla or large Rat style cages to house the babies so they can be split from their parents very soon.

We will also soon have 16 Degu's to find new homes and we are asking anyone interested to let us know by leaving your details at the Shelter on 01481 257261 or email [email protected]

Steve Byrne GSPCA Manager said 'All of our 16 Degu's are very cute but it is very important you know what you are taking in with any pet and for anyone interested then you should read up on their needs and care.'

'They are much better than many rodents as pets as they are diurnal which means they are active during the day.'

'This is not the first case of animals being purchased and arriving either pregnant or with young at the GSPCA and it is extremely important that if you are buying pets from sellers or pet shops that you ensure they haven't been kept in mixed sexes as with these two that have become 16.'

'It's certainly the most Degu's we have ever had and we are appealing for large Rat or Chinchilla cages to care for them and anyone to come forward that is interested in adopting them.'

Other facts about Degu's -

  • Degus scientific name is Octodon degus.
  • Degus are a caviomorph rodent.
  • Degus are endemic to central Chile.
  • Degus are sometimes referred to as the brush-tailed rat.
  • The degu is a small rodent with a body length of 25.0 to 31.0 centimetres (9.8–12.2 in) and a weight of 170 to 300 grams (6.0 to 11 oz).
  • They have yellow-brown fur above and creamy-yellow below, with yellow around the eyes and a paler band around the neck.
  • They have a long, thin tail with a tufted black tip, dark sparsely-furred ears, and pale grey toes. 
  • Their fifth toe is small with a nail, rather than a claw, on the forefeet. 
  • Their hindfeet are bristled. 
  • Their cheek teeth are shaped like figures-of-eight, hence the Degu's genus name "Octodon".
  • Degus are highly social.
  • Degus DO NOT like to live alone.
  • They live in burrows, and, by digging communally, they are able to construct larger and more elaborate burrows than they could on their own.
  • Degus digging together coordinate their activities, forming digging chains.
  • Females living in the same group have been shown to spontaneously nest communally and they nurse one another's young.
  • They spend a large amount of time on the surface, where they forage for food.
  • When foraging, their ability to detect predators is increased in larger groups, and each animal needs to spend less time in vigilance.
  • Degu's exhibit a wide array of communication techniques. 
  • Degu's have an elaborate vocal repertoire comprising up to 15 unique sounds, and the young need to be able to hear their mother's calls if the emotional systems in their brains are to develop properly.
  • They use their urine to scent mark, and experiments have shown that they react to one another's marks, although in males the hormone testosterone may suppress their sense of smell somewhat.
  • Degus are highly agile, active animals and therefore require a lot of space to keep them happy.
  • Many Degus owners house their Degus in chinchilla or large rat cages, made of wire mesh with a solid, metal tray.
  • Degus are highly intelligent and require a lot of mental stimulation to keep their minds active and occupied and require a lot of exercise.
  • Unlike some other octodontids, Degus are diurnal (active during the day), and they have good vision.
  • Their retinas include rod cells and two types of cone cells, corresponding to peak sensitivity in the green and ultraviolet regions of the spectrum.
  • Degus are strictly herbivorous, in the wild feeding on grasses and browsing the leaves of shrubs, though they will also take seeds.
  • Throughout much of the year forage is dried and so Degus are specially adapted to a very high fibre intake, and this varies between food types and environmental conditions.
  • Degus like some other herbivores such as rabbits, they perform coprophagy (faecal reingestion) so as to extract more nutrition from their diet and this also serves to maintain healthy gut function during times when food is scarce.
  • Although Degus are active by day, in high summer they do not leave their burrows in the middle of the day and instead emerge to forage in the mornings and evenings.
  • Degus physiology have an intolerance of dietary sugar.

To find out much more about Degus by going to

To see about Nouska the Husky please click here.

If you would like to donate to Nouska the Husky's operation and the other animals in need please call 01481 257261, pop into the Shelter in St Andrews or click on the Paypal link below and reference 'Nouska's Appeal'


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The following are events planned for 2013

Every Tuesday during term time between 10.30am and 12pm at the GSPCA we have a coffee morning with bric-a-brac and pet supplies on sale (free entry) also guided tours at £5 per person minimum donation available at 11am.  Please click here for more details

Friday 12th - Sunday 14th July - A stall at Chaos, Pleinmont Point - volunteers need to help

Sunday 14th July - Labradog Day - a fun day for labrador owners at the Hotel Bon Port - please click here for details

Wednesday 17th July 6.30pm - Volunteer Induction Evening - to be held at the Shelter, more details to follow

Roy Cochrane Presents "Guernsey Changes" a colour slide and chat show at Les Cotils Saturday 20th July.please click here for details

Saturday 20th July a stall at the Guernsey Cheshire Home & the Guernsey MS Society It's A Knockout at Saumarez Park.please click here for details

Sunday 21st July - Family Fun Car Boot Sale at Specsavers - please click here for details

9th - 10th August 2013 South Show GSPCA Stall - volunteers needed to help with the stand

14th - 15th August 2013 West Show GSPCA Stall - volunteers needed to help with the stand

17th August Donkey Derby GSPCA Stall - volunteers needed to help with the stand

21st - 22nd August 2013 North Show GSPCA stall - volunteers needed to help with the stand

GSPCA Flag Day August 24th - we are looking for volunteers to help make this the biggest and best flag day the GSPCA has held

Sunday 25th August - Vale Earth Fair - volunteers needed to help with the stand

Sunday 15th September 2013 - Animal Welfare Seafront Sunday - click here for more details.

4th October - World Animal Day - more details to follow

The GSPCA Mystery of Masquerade Charity Ball Saturday 2nd November 2013 - click here for more details

Fancy doing a sponsored event for the GSPCA?  To download a GSPCA Sponsor form please

Download a GSPCA Sponsorship Form

Would your business, office or school like a collection box or counter box to sell GSPCA goods?  Please email [email protected] for more details




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