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Are Degus Nocturnal? Degus Sleeping Habits Explained

By Eddie Chevrel


Updated on

While most people assume that degus are nocturnal, they are more active in the day, making them diurnal. This guide will give you a clear idea about their sleeping habits and how you can understand their sleep schedule.

Are Degus Nocturnal or Diurnal?

Degus do spend a portion of their activities being up at night. However, they are considered diurnal by nature. It means that they are going to be active during the day as well and will often take plenty of naps during the day to conserve their energy. Their sporadic napping will allow them to continue what they do around 24-hour periods.

What is a normal degu sleep schedule?

Degus will have about 9 hours of sleep at night but will most likely depend on the amount of activity they experience. They like to take very short naps in between which can last several minutes either day or night. Their sleep behavior is a lot closer to crepuscular since they wake up at dawn to start looking for food.

Degus have energetic personalities and they will start showing their full energy around sunset. You might experience a degu that is somewhat lazy just after they wake up. Around 6 or 7 pm is when degus will start becoming more active than any other time.

How to make sure your degu gets quality sleep

When it comes to degus sleeping, you don’t need much except for a room that is nice and quiet. They are especially prone to waking up if there are slight noises in the room. Their ears are continually listening to slight sounds that might be threatening to them.

So what they need is a room that will have good insulation from which you can’t hear the sounds from the street. You should also invest in a good cage with plenty of space and hideouts for your degu to sleep in.

If you have other pets like a dog or cat, they should not be allowed to enter their room. Degus have a shy personality and might perceive as a threat to other pets that are in the same room. If they do, your degus will set off warning foot thumps to warn the others to hide in their habitat.

Do degus need to sleep in the dark?

It doesn’t matter if degus are in the dark or not when they take a nap. They will retreat to a hut, bed, or covered shelter just so they can have a quick nap. They may also find that a shirt pocket is a good place to nap for a few minutes when you handle them.

They are burrowing rodents by nature and these areas are always nice and dark. Since they close their eyes when they sleep, they don’t need much effort to nap or rest whenever they want. They will often pile together in groups to snooze in full daylight if they feel it’s time to rest.

Should I cover my degu cage?

You don’t have to cover their cage. It’s actually not advised since it can raise the temperature inside their cage and also limit airflow. Also, the last thing you want is to let degus chew fabric material that is hung over their cage.

Where do degus normally sleep in the cage?

Your degu will like any spot that is going to give a maximum amount of comfort. This can be from a hut, a cardboard house, a hammock, or a fleece bed. They are not very particular when it comes to comfort as long as they can rest for a bit.

They will even find a location inside the bedding if they want to make a burrow. You will notice they will sleep inside toilet paper tubes and underneath a coconut shell if they feel it suits their mood at that moment. You can be honored if they sleep in or on your hands, but that is quite rare.

How do I make my degus sleep?

With plenty of interaction that you give a degu in the daytime or nighttime hours when you handle them, they will surely get tired. They like racing around their cage with others and also running on their exercise wheel. In fact, anything that is a daily activity will cause them to get tired.

Degus also get tired from food, so you can schedule mealtime when it’s time for bed. They will take their normal portion and will naturally want to rest after that. For your degu to sleep well, a balanced diet is needed.

Degu sleep issues

Your degu can have nightmares just like everyone else and will make squeaking noises while they are asleep. They can also make motions as if they are eating or grinding their teeth. They happen to make twitching movements if they are dreaming of being active and running around.

All you can do at this point is to let them wake up naturally on their own. if they are dreaming, they will make these movements and noises just out of their nature. It’s actually nothing to worry about, so you can relax and watch the show.

What position do degus normally sleep in?

Your degu will sleep in any position they feel is comfortable for them. Most of the time, they sleep on their side, but most often they sleep sitting upon all fours. They don’t usually sleep on their backs unless they are exhausted.

If you see your degu sleeping in their running wheel, it is because they were just too lazy to find a proper place to rest. They can even nap on your lap if they feel comfortable enough or retreat to a pocket where they can snuggle up inside. More often they will pile onto each other in a huddle that is common for degus in a community.

Can you change a degu’s sleep pattern?

You can’t change degus’ sleep patterns, but there are ways to influence the way they sleep. This includes constant training to get them to wake up at certain times using plenty of incentives. This can be from treats and scheduled training times.

After a few months, your degu will come to instinctively know they are going to do something at a certain time of the day. This is essentially degu training and once your degu learns this is part of their normal day, they will expect this again and again. If it works in your favor, then you can repeat this with success every day.

Why is my degu sleeping all the time?

If you have a degu that is sleeping more often this can be cause for alarm but it’s not necessarily a danger sign. It’s only when they are being extremely lethargic and stop eating that it becomes a warning sign. They could have a stomach blockage from something they ingested.

As degus grow older their sleeping habits change so it’s only natural they will have different sleeping times. Just look for abnormal sleeping times that are longer than 9 hours in a stretch.

What are some good degu sleep accessories?

The best sleeping accessory that a degu will like is a great variety of sleeping objects that might appeal to them. You just don’t know what they will find comfortable, but as long as it’s inviting and soft they will probably enjoy sleeping in it. Fleece items like hiding beds or houses are nice places where they can rest. They are also fond of hammocks that they can crawl into.

Give them plenty of choices for nocturnal resting spots, and they will find a particular favorite. They are not very picky and might actually prefer a simple cardboard box.

References and further reading:

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About Eddie Chevrel

Eddie Chevrel is an animal journalist and the founder of ThePetSavvy. He's very passionate about exotic pets and spends most of his free time doing research, meeting, and interviewing people working with animals. Learn more about The Pet Savvy's Editorial Process.