(Octodon degus) #66-40

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Physical characteristics and distribution

Degu Octodon degus

Head and body lengths of O. degus range from 125-195 mm and tail lengths are 105-165 mm. Weights are 170-300 g. Upperparts are gray to brown, often with a tinge of orange. and the underparts are creamy yellow. The tip of the tail is black. The first four digits on all four feet are well developed, while the fifth is considerably smaller. There are long bristles that extend over the claws on the hind feet. Females have eight mammae.

O. degus is found on the west slope of the Andes at elevations of up to 1,200 meters in fairly open areas near thickets, rocks, or stone walls. Degus are diurnal, with the greatest amount of activity occurring in the morning and late afternoon. Colonies build extensive burrow systems with a main area usually located beneath a shrubs or rocks, and complex tunnels and surface paths radiating from it.

The diet consists of grasses, leaves, bark, seeds and fruit, and, during the dry season, is supplemented with the droppings of cattle and horses. O. degus stores food for the winter.

The Degu is the most common mammal of central Chile. It has a strong social organization which is determined by group territoriality. The primary defended territory is the central burrow, where females of the same social group may rear their young together.

It is unclear if there is a specific breeding season for O. degus, and there is speculation that the presence of a male may be necessary for the female to begin ovulation. Gestation lasts about 90 days with litter sizes ranging from 1-10 offspring. In captivity, babies have been born both fully furred with eyes open, and sparsely furred with eyes opening at about 2-3 days of age. Birthweight is about 14 grams. The baby Degus must nurse for at least 14 days and usually for about 4 weeks. Parents cut grass and bring it into the burrows for their young. The average age at which sexual maturity is reached is about 6 months.

O. degus is found in Chile, west slope of the Andes between Vallenar and Curico, to 1,200 m.

Description of the brain

Animal source and preparation
All specimens collected followed the same preparation and histological procedure.

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