The reproduction of the octodon: sexual maturity, cycle, gestation and parturition


The only species of kind Octodon that we can breeding in captivity is the Delegate of Chile (Degus degus) commonly known as degus or degus and degu. This is a small rodent mammal very nice, easy to tame, and which weighs no more than 300 grams in adulthood. But a single pair may eventually take up a lot of space very quickly if we are not careful because the female can have four litters per year, up to twelve offspring per litter, and these animals have a life expectancy of a good ten years in captivity… Taking an interest in the reproduction of the Chilean Dègue can be very useful before adopting a couple.

Octodon (Chilean degus): sexual maturity and cycle

The female degus reaches sexual maturity between 6 and 8 weeks while the male cannot begin to reproduce until the age of 12 weeks. However, it is necessary not to breed a female until she is an adult, that is to say at 5 or 6 months because precocity in terms of gestation represents risks. This is also an element that must absolutely be taken into account in all animals.

In the Chilean Dègue female, a cycle hard ovarian between 18 and 21 days. She is fertile only during her heat, namely for 48 hours at most. It is therefore recommended to only bring a male and a female together during this short period because it is only there that the female is receptive. The rest of the time, she risks not accepting sexual assaults from a male which can be the cause of a severe tussle.

Chilean degus or degus: mating

As is the case with the generality of rodents, the mating of degus mainly takes place in the evening or in the middle of night, and when the female is in heat. It is preceded by a courtship ritual which begins when the male and female have accepted each other. Otherwise, it is better to separate them to avoid fights.

They mark their territory, sniff each other, brush against each other then approach each other more and more, cuddle with great tenderness, then play to chase each other and when the female is receptive, she presents her rear- train to his courtier, lifts his tail and gives little cries. The male then rides her and mating only lasts a few seconds. He then releases his sweetheart, and victorious, stands on his hind legs, screaming. Then each gets down to carefully cleaning the genitals of his partner.

Gestation in the octodon

A single coupling is sufficient for the female degus is fertilized. The gestation tough between 87 and 93 days.It is only after the 70th day that we can detect certain signs such as weight gain, and towards the end of this period, the female gets down to building a cozy nest. A few days before giving birth, she is so round that her movements become a bit complicated.

This is the time chosen for extract the male from the cage, without however visually separating it from the female. The two rodents must be able to continue to see and feel each other so that once mother, the female does not repel her companion. It should in fact be noted that thefatherly instinct is enough unbelievable in these degus. The father takes care of his little ones extremely well, is patient, tender and very protective with them. At the same time, he takes care of the maintenance of the nest as well as its reconstruction and invests a lot in relieving the female. To preserve the balance of a family of octodons, we understand that it is therefore crucial to reintroduce the father to his family. But beware: the breeder must have taken care of have him castrated beforehand so that he can no longer cover the female. This is the best solution for regulate the number of litters. Otherwise, barely having given birth, she can quickly find herself full.

Octodon: the birth

Farrowing most often takes place during morning. She is fast since its maximum duration is approximately one hour. A little before, there is swelling of the vulva from which mucus flows.

Each newborn degus is expelled in a few minutes, head first. He weighs between 13 and 15 grams, is already covered in hair, and his eyes are open. The mother eats each placenta as soon as it is expelled, cuts the umbilical cord and cleans her youngs just as soon as they come into the world, which can also be seen in all mammals. The breeder should not handle them, except in cases of extreme emergency, because the mother risks refusing to take care of her offspring and sometimes even killing her offspring.

With its eight udders, she is able to nurse a beautiful litter for the required 5-6 weeks. Babies do not separate at first because by staying close together they keep each other warm. But from their first week of life, the little degus, already very resourceful, start to eat a little solid food. However, their heavy gait lasts for several weeks, and they need to be always near their mother who educates them. They will not be totally weaned that at the age of 12 weeks.

In very extreme cases, a mother degus may engage in acts of cannibalism, but this is quite rare if the breeder makes every effort to provide his rodents with very good living conditions and gives the pregnant and then lactating mother food that perfectly meets her needs. Cannibalism can, for example, be observed if the litter is too large and the female cannot breastfeed all of her young, or if her offspring have been groped by humans and she no longer recognizes their scent. Finally, overcrowding but also stress are aggravating factors.