What is a degu?

Degu info

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Briefly: a degu is (currently) a rodent of order Caviomorpha that lives in Chile in South America. Highly social herbivorous mammals, they live in groups, nest in burrows and are diurnal (active during the day). They are about the size of an adult person's open palm and have brown pelts (fur), pale UV reflective ventral (belly) fur, light rings of fur around their eyes and orange teeth. They also have a medium length tail with short, wiry hair becoming longer at the tip. Degus are sometimes referred to as 'brush tail rats' or 'trumpet tailed rats'52 but are entirely unrelated to rats. Other names that local people often use to refer to wild degus include 'chozchoris', 'rata de las cercas', 'raton de tapias', 'bori' and 'Cuming's octodon'52. The name 'degu' is itself derived from its Latin name, Octodon degus. 'Octodon' translates from Latin as 'eight tooth' (octo=eight, dens=tooth), while 'degus' is derived from the Latin word 'degusto' meaning to taste/graze. Octodon degus therefore loosely translates as 'eight tooth grazer', a name which the naturalist who discovered them clearly obtained through aspects of their physiology and behaviour.

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