Despite good care, even a degu can get sick. In this case, it is important to quickly consult a knowledgeable veterinarian who can diagnose and treat the condition. Find out everything about typical diseases of degus here.
Diseases have a wide variety of causes, such as deficiency symptoms or bacterial and viral diseases. The best precaution for the long health of your degus is a species-appropriate diet and sufficient hygiene. But you shouldn’t overdo it either, because animals that never come into contact with pathogens cannot build up a sufficient immune system. In order to detect diseases in your degus early, it is important to conduct regular health checks. You can pay particular attention to the following nine typical diseases of degus.
Cold in degus
There are a number of reasons why degus catch a cold. These can be:
- wet litter
- room temperature too low
You can recognize the onset of a cold by a purulent nasal discharge, eye inflammation, and sneezing. However, since these symptoms do not only apply to colds, an exact differential diagnosis is required in order to choose the right treatment method. If left untreated, a cold can develop into pneumonia, so a quick vet visit is highly recommended.
Diarrhea in degus
Diarrhea can also have various causes. In addition to salmonella, E. coli bacteria are often the reason for indigestion. In some cases, however, the cause of the diarrhea is harmless, for example, excessive feeding of green fodder. Typical symptoms of diarrhea are a mushy or runny stool and smeared fur on the anus.
Worm infestation of degus
Even if degus are kept indoors, they can be infested with worms. One possible source through which the degus can become infected with the parasites is the hay. If the food is not hygienically packaged, it can also be contaminated with worm eggs.
As long as your degus are eating healthy, you will hardly notice a worm infestation. But if there is stress or if the immune system is weakened, the worms will take over and your degus will suddenly lose weight without any apparent reason. In this case, a fecal sample must be analyzed to identify the parasites.
Ectoparasites in degus
In addition to endoparasites that populate the intestines of the degus, the animals can also catch ectoparasites such as mites, fleas, or lice. Indications of this are bald spots, and constant scratching can also indicate ectoparasites. Sources of pests are usually contaminated bedding, contaminated feed, or hay.
If you suspect parasitosis, you should examine your degus closely! To do this, stroke the animal’s fur against the grain and take a close look to see whether you can discover the parasites, their eggs, or feces. If the degus cannot be examined very closely, you can also place a white cloth over the enclosure overnight. The next morning you can then hold the cloth up to the light, where you can quickly spot parasites.
Allergies in degus
If your degus sneeze frequently without them having a cold, it may be an indication of an allergy. The exact cause can usually only be found with a few attempts. To do this, you would have to gradually remove all substances such as food or bedding that could trigger allergies from the enclosure. If your degus then show improvement, you have probably found the cause of the allergy.
Heatstroke in degus
There is a risk of heatstroke in degus due to strong sunlight or overheating of the enclosure. Heat builds up quickly, especially in enclosures with large glass fronts that are in direct sunlight. When transporting on hot summer days, it must also be ensured that the warm air does not accumulate in the transport box. Degus with heat stroke lie listlessly in their enclosure and have an increased breathing rate.
Abscesses in degus
As a result of a bite wound or inflammation in the mouth, for example, as a result of a misaligned tooth, degus can develop an abscess. An abscess is a suppuration clearly demarcated from healthy tissue.
Such an abscess can only be treated by a veterinarian. This will open the pus focus and remove the pus. The abscess cavity is then rinsed and treated with antibiotics. The treatment usually has to be repeated over several days to achieve complete healing.
Diabetes in degus
Degus are relatively susceptible to diabetes mellitus. The disease is caused by a lack of insulin, a hormone responsible for keeping blood sugar levels at a certain level.
Diabetes can be caused by a variety of reasons. In degus, in addition to a diet that is too high in sugar (simple sugar), there is also a genetic component. It is therefore important that you feed your degus a healthy diet and avoid foods that contain too much sugar. You can recognize diabetes in your animals by symptoms such as increased thirst and urination. There is no cure, but you can significantly extend the life of your degus by following a low-sugar diet.
A clouding of the lens (cataract) can also occur as a result of diabetes, which affects the vision of the degus. However, such lens opacity can also be caused by a high aldose reductase content in the lens. This ensures an unusually fast metabolism of glucose and galactose, resulting in osmotically active metabolites (so-called polyols) that are responsible for turbidity.
Many degus grow very old despite lens opacity, they cope well with lens opacity and never have problems with the disease. In some cases, however, there is also an acute course of the disease. Degus affected by this form often die within a few weeks or months of the onset of the disease.
Wounds in degus
Wounds can have various causes, but they are usually the result of biting. It is important not only to treat the wounds but also to look for the cause. In the event of serious quarrels within a group or pair, the animals must be separated.
In order to avoid infection of wounds, the injured animal should be placed in a sick box (e.g. fauna box) in which unprinted kitchen paper is used as a floor. The wound can then be carefully cleaned with a cotton swab. You can use a sterile saline solution, which you can get in any pharmacy, to clean the wound.