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Do Degus Bite?

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Degus (Octodon degus) are burrowing gerbil-like critters from South America. Some people keep these rodents as pets, although they're not allowed in all states. The brownish-yellow critters are bigger than gerbils, with average mature weights of between 6 ounces and 10.5 ounces. These little guys' dispositions, as far as captive pets go, are generally pretty pleasant.

Biting Humans

Degus tend to be gregarious creatures. They don't usually bite people, but it isn't out of the question for them to do so. If a person causes a degu to feel scared, anxious or overwhelmed, the little guy might respond by biting, such as when a person tries to pick him up suddenly or inappropriately. When degus express that they want to be freed, they sometimes wiggle to be let go. They sometimes even try to bite, too. Although this can happen with degus, it's not the norm for those who know and trust their owners.

Biting Fellow Degus

Degus bite fellow degus when a problem arises, such as overly cramped living quarters. Adult male degus also can be rather truculent toward one another. While disputes in degus sometimes lead to biting, other behaviors are more common, namely noisy grinding of teeth, squealing and snarling.

Ouch-Inducing Bites

Take biting seriously, whether directed at humans or animals. Degus' elongated chompers are extremely pointy; they can cause physical harm. When degus bite other degus, they can trigger infections and abscesses. If you're concerned that one of your degus might have bitten another one of your cuties, pay attention to signs of a problem, including skin protuberances, pus and redness. Contact a veterinarian as soon as possible if your degu has been bitten. If your degu bit you or any of your family members or friends, notify a physician immediately, as well.

Caution in Holding Degus

Degus who receive plentiful interaction and physical contact with human beings from tender ages can develop gentle temperaments. These socialized degus generally don't mind when people hold them. They also usually don't try to bite people who hold them, either -- as long as they're held correctly. It's crucial to never try to hold degus from their tails. When people do this, it can cause them to whirl rapidly, desperately trying to flee. This leads to the skin of their tails falling off and the poor rodents losing their tails entirely.