Hillside Veterinary Centre

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146 Crewe Road, Nantwich, Cheshire, CW5 6NB
Telephone: 01270 625310



Don't grab their tails! Don't feed them sweets!

Dagus, like their cousins the guinea-pig, hale from the Andean Mountains. They have taken the adaptations for surviving this harsh environment further than rabbits and guinea pigs.

They are prey animals. It is instinctive for them to be scared by swooping birds of prey or your hands. Always let your dagu hop onto your hand and never catch it by the tail. The skin will slough off, de-gloving, leaving an unpleasant but survivable bony tail.

Dagus have evolved to survive on poor quality grass and bark, much like rabbits and guinea-pigs. Their teeth grow continually to counter the wear of persistent grinding. Dagus must grind their teeth or they will develop major dental problems. Their diet must be hay based (20% dietary fibre). Not only do they need a fibrous diet - they cannot cope with a high energy diet. Dagus have lost the ability to cope with sudden blood sugar rises caused by eating simple carbohydrates like sugar. Keep pellets to a minimum using dagu, guinea pig or chinchilla mixes. Avoid added molasses or coccidiostats found in rabbit feeds. The feeding of high carbohydrate/ protein diets will cause diabetes and liver failure. Both are fatal in Dagus.

Greens are important in their diet. They may be like guinea-pigs - unable to make their own Vitamin C; but too much will cause bloat.

Dagus don't sweat! Keep their cages out of direct sun. They are prone to heat stroke.


Dagus are sociable rodents about a foot long tip to tail tip. They like to burrow a bit and climb a bit. Their cage should have a solid floor covered with deep litter and wire cage above. They are talkative and day active living up to 10 years. The cage should contain a hayrack, water bottles, food bowls, nesting box, calcium chews and possibly a solid wheel (25cm diameter). Stones to wear the claws down are a good idea as is a chinchilla dust bath; but don't leave the bath in, they'll use it for their toilet. They produce small dry non-odorous dropping and tend to wee at night.

Beware dagus love their food and they will over-eat.

Dagu disorders

Slobbering, pawing at face, reduced appetite and weepy eyes can all be caused by overgrown teeth.

Pale teeth - the dagu's incisors should be orange, pale teeth could indicate Pale teeth indicate a Vitamin A deficiency.

Fat dagus with increased thirst are probably suffering from either Fatty liver disease associated with feeding gerbil/hamster mixers or Diabetes mellitus associated with too much carbohydrate/rabbit feed.

Fur chewing can be associated with boredom, stress, lack of fibre. Stopchew for chinchillas may help.

Dry scaly skin especially on the tail may indicate a fatty acid deficiency.

Bumblefoot or pododermatitis is usually caused by repetitive trauma to the fur pad covering the sole of the foot. Wire mesh floors are the main culprits.

Reproductive disasters.

Dagus breed like … Dagus! Females reach puberty at 7 weeks, males at 12weeks. Gestation is about 90 days producing 5-6 pups. Dagus can conceive within 24 hours of labour. The babies are born with fur, teeth and eyes wide open; and can be weaned at 4 weeks although the mother will lactate for up to 6 weeks. Sexing dagus is difficult: the males' testicles are always internal.

Dagus are prone to cystic ovaries similarly as guinea-pigs.


Dagus can run at 4.9m/s, over 10 miles/hour making them difficult to catch!

Dagus see in two colours: green and UV. Their tummy and their urine reflect UV light. Having a UV light on during the day may enhance their environment and aid Vitamin D synthesis.


Dagus photograph by Heike Hellwig available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Degu-Rudi.jpg [09/09/08]


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