Carrots are often a popular treat for our pets.
We know they are good for humans and can be eaten both raw and cooked.
But are carrots good for our degus? We know that not all foods which are good for us are good for our pets, and unlike some other animals, you generally have to be a bit more careful about what you feed degus.
In this article, I’ll run through what I know about whether carrots are good for degus, what health benefits they have, are there any negative health effects of carrots and how your degu can eat carrots.
Degus can eat carrots in very small quantities. They are a great source of lots of vitamins and minerals for degus. However, they also contain a small amount of sugar which degus cannot process effectively and so carrots should only ever be an occasional treat for degus.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of carrots for degus.
Just keep in mind, that whilst there are health benefits of carrots, a degu’s inability to digest sugar effectively vastly outweighs any benefits if they have too much carrot.
Benefits of carrot for degus
Remember the old myth about carrots helping you to see in the dark, well that’s because of vitamin A.
And it’s actually kind of true, vitamin A does help to support good eye health.
Vitamin A is also great for young degus as vitamin A deficiency can stunt growth.
This great vitamin also helps to maintain strong immune and cell functions.
This mineral will aid muscle growth, boost their metabolism and help to maintain a good nervous system and cognitive function.
Potassium also works in combination with calcium to strengthen bones, teeth and hair, keeping your degu strong and helping to give a lovely sheen to their coat.
This nutrient is great for the digestive system.
It is fermented into fatty acids which sit in your degus digestive tract.
These fatty acids prevent the build-up of potentially harmful bacteria in the intestine. Fiber also helps the colon to recover from any damage.
Degus have a high-fiber diet anyway, so the added fiber from carrots is not as beneficial as for some other pets, but it’s still a plus point.
Low in calories
One thing that carrots don’t have much of is calories
That is of course great for keeping weight gain to a minimum.
But the reality is, your degu should only eat such small amounts of carrot, due to its sugar content, that calories shouldn’t be that much of a concern anyway.
Health risks of carrots for degus
This bit is important!
Carrots can make a good treat for your degu but they do have one serious downside… Sugar.
This is the largest risk of degus eating sugary foods.
The gastrointestinal tracts of a degu are intolerant to sugar.
If they digest too much sugar Degus can quickly develop diabetes.
Degus are very poor at regulating their blood glucose levels and as a result, they can become diabetic very easily.
Therefore, you should only ever feed your degu a very small amount of carrot to avoid this risk.
Excess vitamin A
Vitamin A can also cause issues in excess, and carrots are very high in this particular vitamin.
This can lead to an excess build up of vitamin A in the liver.
To avoid these issues, only feed your degu carrots occasionally as a treat.
Frozen carrots are good for degu dental health
Something you may not know is that the crunchy texture of a carrot can actually be good for a degu’s dental health. If you freeze a carrot this only adds to the toughness.
When your degu chews away on a frozen carrot the process actually helps to scrape plaque off the teeth, reducing plaque build-up.
It’s an inexpensive way to keep your degu’s teeth in good order.
However, there is a major warning here, the sugar content of carrots will damage your degu’s health if they eat them too much.
To avoid the side-effects of the high sugar content, only feed carrots in moderation, as a very occasional treat.
Cooked carrots help your degu digest the nutrients
On the other end of the scale from frozen carrots, if you want your degu to get the full nutritional value from the vegetable it is best to cook the carrot first.
Raw carrots are protected by a thin wall of cellulose which makes it hard for your degu’s digestive system to break down.
If you just lightly steam the carrots, they will retain most of their nutrients and be much easier for your degu’s gut to break down.
Can degus eat carrot peel
Carrot peel (or carrot skin) has the same benefits and risks as the rest of the carrot.
Degus can eat carrot peel, but only very occasionally due to the high sugar content.
There’s no need to peel the carrot before feeding it to your degu, but you may want to wash it first.
Can degus eat carrot tops
Carrot tops are perfectly safe for degus to eat.
They have nutritional value too and with a far lower sugar content compared to the actual carrot they make a great treat for your degu.
Can degus eat carrot cake
Degus should not eat carrot cake.
A carrot cake is unlikely to contain any ingredients which are toxic to degus but they will contain plenty of things which are not particularly good for their health, including a lot of sugar.
3 oz (85g) of carrot cake will contain around 0.98 oz (28g) of sugar. That’s a huge amount of sugar for a degu and isn’t far off the amount found in a can of fizzy cola.
Eating too many sugary treats like carrot cake can quickly lead to diabetes.
How much carrot can a degu eat
Even though carrots have lots of healthy nutrients there is also a significant risk when feeding them to degus due to the sugar content.
Degus cannot effectively process sugar if they have too much they can easily develop diabetes.
Therefore, your degu should only ever eat a small slice of carrot every couple of weeks as a treat.
Carrots should not be considered as part of a healthy and balanced daily diet for a degu, only as a treat.
Always show caution when trying new foods
As with every new food you introduce to your degu’s life, you should still approach feeding them carrots with caution.
Whilst this article is a general guide for the average degu and will not be relevant for every degu.
All degus are different, and some might find certain foods harder to digest than others.
If you’re feeding your degu carrot for the first time always make sure you monitor them for the next day or so.
Look for signs of digestive issues, this is quite hard to spot in degus but diarrhea is the most obvious sign, or you might notice they are less active too.
Always introduce new foods one at a time as it will make any changes in your degu’s behavior or health easier to diagnose.
If you have any concerns then stop feeding your degu carrot straight away and consult with your vet.